How To Choose The Best Server for A Small Business In 2020

Pablo Villaronga | May 16, 2020

small business server

I think you’ll agree with me that choosing the best server for a small business can be a difficult process. With so many server types, processors, hard drive, and other options to choose from, it’s almost impossible to know where to begin. If you want to know how to setup a server for a small business, you’re in the right place.

It doesn’t have to be this complicated. It turns out, there are just four things to really consider when choosing a small business server. In today’s article, I’m going to run down our top 3 small business server choices, and show you how you can choose the best small business server for your needs. Quick NavigationUpdates for 2020How can you use a small business server?How to Choose A Small Business ServerStep 1: Research server specs based on the applications you plan to run.Step 2: Determine the Best Small Business Server LocationStep 3: Calculate Your Business Servers BudgetStep 4: Select Your Server TypeStep 5: Order Your Server and Get StartedOur Top Small Business Server ChoicesBest Budget ServerBest Value ServerBest Powerhouse Server

Updates for 2020

This article has been updated for 2020 to reflect new servers and processors available for small business servers, along with updated pricing and order information.

How can you use a small business server?

A server is a remote computer that is generally stored in a server data center. It is always on and connected to the internet via gigabit ethernet. It can be used to host a diverse variety of services and applications for accomplishing business goals.

Business servers can be used for:

  • Secure email hosting
  • File Sharing
  • Cloud Storage
  • Hosting a website or eCommerce store
  • Hosting SaaS apps such as customer relationship management, invoice management, employee management, or planning and collaboration software.
  • Supporting multiple virtual servers
  • Backing-up business data
  • Storing and collaborating on documents
  • Providing virtual desktops to employees

A small business server can power all of these services and more. A powerful server is capable of supporting all of them simultaneously, although there are benefits to splitting functionality between several smaller servers, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.

How to Choose A Small Business Server

Step 1: Research server specs based on the applications you plan to run.

There are two different ways to determine which processor, RAM, and hard drive requirements you should select when setting up a small business server:

  1. Conducting research yourself:
    • Make a list of all of the applications you plan to run on the server.
    • Consider how many users each application needs to serve, now and in the near future.
    • Take this list and head on over to Google to look for advice and tests conducted by others that show how much server resources this application may use.
    • Wash, rinse, and repeat this step for each application and add at least 20% buffer to account for spikes in resource usage.
  2. Book an expert server consultation:
    • Compile a list of applications you plan to run on the server.
    • Visit our website and book a free consultation
    • We’ll take our decades of experience and match you with the perfect server for your needs.

Just as you probably wouldn’t perform your own root canal or sell a house without a realtor, some things are just better left to the pros.

After all, when you help thousands of people find the right server, you develop a keen sense on which hardware performs best in nearly any situation.

Step 2: Determine the Best Small Business Server Location

When setting up a server for small business, you have two main options on location:

  1. setting up a server that will sit in your office; or 
  2. hosting a server in the cloud.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to just pay a one time fee and buy a server, there are pros and cons to each approach.

Watch our video to help decide if you should buy a server for your office, or host one in the cloud:

Running small business servers in your own office:

Single up-front hardware costMay end up being cheaper in the long-termElectricity to power and cool the server can be expensiveHardware replacement costsNo 24×7 supportNo immediate hardware replacement in the event of component failureNormally no on-site security or support teamInadequate fire-suppression and cooling infrastructureHardware becomes outdated quicklyNo redundant power or networkNormally no 1GBps or redundant network connections

Hosting a server in the cloud:

Latest hardware, upgrade anytime.24×7 expert support with on-site staff for hardware replacementNo additional costs for cooling or powering the serverSecure facility with 24×7 securityRedundant network and power connectionsFire suppression and early fire detectionMonthly recurring feesNo physical access to the server

Step 3: Calculate Your Business Servers Budget

An important consideration when setting up a server is the cost. While every business is unique, here are some factors that may steer you towards a cheaper or more expensive server. This advice applies equally to renting or owning a server.

A cheaper server may be under $100/month when renting, or under $500 when buying.

A more expensive server is typically over $100/month and over $1500-$2000 to buy.

Which comments sound more like your situation?

Buying A Cheaper ServerBuyer A More Expensive Server
My server can be offline for periods of time without any impact on my businessI don’t mind using older generation hardware that may be less efficient in processing tasks or with power consumptionI don’t mind migrating to or purchasing a new server if I outgrow my current serverI don’t need redundant features like dual-ethernet or RAIDMy server workloads are relatively low power operationsMy server won’t be used as a front-end for critical customer traffic such as e-commerceMy server needs to be stable and online, 24x7I need redundancy features like RAID and dual-ethernetMy server will host e-commerce or other customer facing resourcesI have complex workloads such as production databases or big data analyticsI don’t want to have to migrate to a new server for several yearsI want the latest generation hardware that can perform tasks efficiently

Which server type is right for me?

Take our short quiz and we’ll help you determine the perfect server type for your project.

Step 4: Select Your Server Type

If you’ve decided that you want to host your server in a data center, then you need to decide which kind of server to use. There are two main types: Hybrid and Dedicated Servers. We’ve broken them down below:

Types of Small Business Servers

Hybrid ServersDedicated Servers
What is it?A dedicated server shared by a few users, each with their own isolated OS environment.A single physical server dedicated to one client.
Best for?Low volume, less powerful applications.High performance, mission critical applications.
ProsAffordablePerfect for development and less powerful applicationsEntire resources of a server at your disposalEnvironment not shared with any other users
ConsShare a server with other usersUnable to scale resourcesMay be more expensive than other hosting options

Step 5: Order Your Server and Get Started

Now that you’ve determined your resource needs, budget, server type, and more, you’re ready to order your brand new small business server.

If you’ve decided to purchase a physical server, now is the time to order the server and all of the components such as hard drives and RAM.

If you’re going to choose a server hosted in a data center, you’ll simply visit our website and select a server that meets your needs. No need to wait for your server to arrive or mess around with installing the Operating System. Your server will be installed and ready within 24 hours.

Our Top Small Business Server Choices

Best Budget Server

For those lookest for the cheapest server that will perform adequately for non-mission critical workloads, look no further than our top choices for the best budget small business server.

Server PurchaseServer Rental
Server Specs:Dell PowerEdge T30CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530RAM: 4GB (up to 64GB)Storage: Up to six SATA HDD (not included)Server Specs:CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1270v3RAM: 32GB RAMHard Drive: 500GB Solid State Drive1GBps network connection with 10TB of bandwidth.24×7 expert support included
Pros:Very affordable, entry level serverPros:No hardware replacement or maintenance costs for more redundancy
Cons:No hot-swapping of hard drives
No redundant network connections
Cons:No RAID Support for those looking for more redundancyMax 32GB RAMMax 2 drives
Cost:$430 + hard drive + RAM costsCost:$80/month
Operating Expenses:Estimated to be $22/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenanceOperating Expenses:No additional costs for power, cooling, or maintenance.
Buy On AmazonOrder now

Best Value / Performance Mix Server

We’ve selected our top choice for the best value small business server – a server that balances performance with price. These servers will handle most tasks that the average small business may throw at them with ease, and at a great price tag. 

Server PurchaseServer Rental
Server Specs:HPE ProLiant ML110 G10 Tower CPU: Intel Xeon Scalable  RAM: 16GB (up to 64GB)Storage: Up to 40TB HDDConnectivity: 8 x USB 3.0, serial, video, 2 x DisplayPort, audio, Gigabit EthernetServer Specs:CPU: Dual Intel Xeon E5-2697v2, 48×2.7 GHzRAM: 64GB (Up to 256GB)Hard Drive: 2x 500GB SSD1GBps network connection with 10TB of bandwidth.24×7 expert support included
Pros:Perfect balance of value and performancePros:Incredibly powerful processor for the price
Support for up to 8 drives with full RAID
Cons:No RAID SupportNo network redundancyCons:None
Cost:$1225 + hard drive + additional RAM costsCost:$219/month
Operating Expenses:Estimated to be $20/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenance Operating Expenses:No additional costs for power
Buy On NeweggOrder now

Best Powerhouse Server

Just because you’re a small business, doesn’t mean your server has small requirements. For those of you that need to run mission critical applications which require greater server power, our top picks for Best Powerhouse Server are what you’re looking for.

Server PurchaseSERVER RENTAL
Server Specs:Dell PowerEdge T630 5U Tower ServerCPU: 1 x Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4 Octa-core (8 Core) 2.10 GHz  RAM: 16GB (we’d recommend upgrading here)Storage: No drives includedConnectivity: 4 x Gigabit EthernetServer Specs:CPU: 2x Intel E5 2630 V4RAM: 64GB (up to 512GB)Hard drive: 2x 500GB SSD1GBps network connection with 20TB of bandwidth.24×7 expert support included
Pros:Quality hardware selectionsPros:Latest generation Xeon processor offering incredible value
Cons:No included hard drivesStock RAM would need to be upgradedCons:None
Cost:$3449 + hard drive and additional RAM costsCost:$320/month
Operating Expenses:Estimated to be $20/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenance Operating Expenses:No additional costs for power
Buy On NeweggOrder now

Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right small business server for your company. Don’t hesitate to book your complimentary expert server consultation to get started today.