Business Security

Choosing the best server for your business

Avast Business Team, 11 March 2021

Find the right server type for your needs using our guide

No matter the size of your company, having a server within your operations can help you store and organize data, work collaboratively, and back up your important documents. However, the size of your business could impact the type of server you use. Read this guide to discover the best server for your business.

What does a server do?

Servers are hardware or software that respond to requests for information made by networked devices or programs, known as ‘clients.’ Servers are more powerful than desktop computers, as they require a large amount of storage and processing memory. Servers are rarely turned off, as they constantly receive requests from clients.

Servers help to manage the resources within a network. Some servers just perform a single function, for example, hosting a website, email management, or file sharing. Modern servers are often capable of delivering on multiple needs. Servers can be used to store and back up your data, allowing your business to work collaboratively. 

Hardware servers are physical devices stored within the office environment, while software-based servers use the cloud to connect to your network. Cloud-based servers still have a hardware form – they are stored in vast data centers operated by a third party. They are sometimes referred to as ‘virtual servers,’ as the third party often allocates storage space from the data center as a whole, rather than assigning a single machine to one client.

Selecting the right type of server

As previously stated, when selecting a server for your business, your options are an in-house hardware server or a cloud-based server. You can also choose a dedicated or shared server. The best server for you will meet the specific needs of your business.

Dedicated hardware server

A dedicated server is used exclusively by one business or network, as opposed to a shared server that is used by multiple sites or networks and accessed via the cloud.

Using a dedicated in-house server will require a large upfront cost, for both hardware and infrastructure, and you will be responsible for setting up the server yourself. However, the investment could be more cost-effective long-term, as you won’t have to pay a continuous fee to lease server space as you would with a shared server.

A hardware server will give you more control over your operations, as you won’t rely on a third party for access. That does mean, though, that your company will be solely responsible for ensuring your data, your employees’ data, and your clients’ data is secure. This may be a good option for larger businesses that have a team dedicated to managing IT solutions.

You will also need space within your working environment to store the server, but will not require internet access to use it, as you can create a local area network (LAN).

Cloud-based shared server

A cloud-based server operated by a third party is a good option if you don’t have the finances to make a substantial initial investment. The scalable nature of cloud servers also means that as your company expands, so can your network. You will only pay for the amount of storage and access you need, which maximizes your cost savings. The process of setting up a cloud server will also be easier than a dedicated server, as the hard work is handled by your third-party provider.

Internet service is needed to connect to your virtual server, but it can be accessed from anywhere. This will enable your employees to work remotely or while traveling – as long as they have a safe and secure connection. 

Regarding security, you have to rely on a third party to keep your data secure. Cloud servers may also be higher targets for cybercriminals, as they host multiple organizations and hold more data than a single server managed by one business. You must therefore ensure that you protect your shared server and endpoints with cloud-based, next-gen antivirus.

Generally, cloud-based servers are a good option for those business owners who aren’t so tech-savvy and are unable to control and manage their network and security.

What you need to consider

There is a lot to consider when selecting your server. From scalability to security, and cost to power, ensuring you have the best server for your business is vital. 

Here are the four main factors you should consider when choosing a server for your business:

1. Power

Different servers offer different levels of power. The larger your operations and network, the more power you will need. If your server does not have enough power to manage the requests it receives, this can result in slow performance and downtime.

If you’re a small business, you won’t require as much power, since fewer people will be connecting to the server and not as many clients will be sending IT requests. Therefore, it’s not worth wasting money on additional power that won’t be put to use – especially when you’re a growing business. Larger businesses should invest in more power to ensure all requests are being met and operations can run efficiently.

2. Scalability

Cloud-based servers offer a scalability that is not as easy as with dedicated servers. 

When using server hardware, you must select the size you need. However, businesses are often changing - for instance, you may be expanding or downsizing to save money. You may opt for a server with more capacity than you currently require in order to allow for expansion and pay for more than you’re using, or have to update your server when you outgrow it. As mentioned above, servers require a large upfront cost.

However, with a cloud-based server, you can easily adapt it to your environment. Whether you’re upscaling or downsizing, you can change your capacity with ease – helping your operations run efficiently and ensuring you only pay for what you need.

3. Security

Server security is crucial for businesses of any size. As an enterprise, you will not only have your operational data to protect, but also the data of your employees, business partners, and customers.

If you’re not confident with managing security measures, or are a small business without a dedicated team, using a cloud-based server is a good option. The third party will share responsibility with your business for keeping your data safe. However, cloud-based servers will also be more vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. Review the security breach history of the third parties you are considering before committing.

If your company has staff who is confident with technology and security, or can employ someone who is, then having a dedicated server is a good option. You will have sole responsibility for protecting your data and control of the security measures used.

Regardless of which option you choose, you must ensure that your business data is protected with next-gen antivirus

4. Cost

Cost is an important factor when it comes to selecting your server. Every business has a different budget and individual needs, and server costs vary.

If you purchase a dedicated server, you will have to pay an upfront cost, yet you’ll avoid a monthly fee. However, you will have to cover another large payment if you choose to upgrade – though you may already have the correct infrastructure in place this time and only need to finance the hardware. You must also consider the costs of paying IT employees to support and manage the server.

With a third-party run server, you will have to pay a regular fee to lease your virtual server. This may not be the most cost-effective solution over the long term, as you will be paying a large amount over time for server space that you do not own. However, the fee will cover support from the third party should you need it, making it easy to resolve any problems. Cloud-based servers are also more flexible and scalable, so you will only pay for what you use.

Operating systems

Your server can run on a variety of operating systems. The most popular include Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Windows 

Windows Server is a popular option for businesses, as it is utilized by a large range of organizations. It is more likely to be compatible with your partners or clients, and familiar to your staff. You may also find it easier to integrate with your existing infrastructure, as Windows Server and Windows (Microsoft Office suite) work seamlessly together. 

Microsoft also provides plenty of support – something which Linux, as a community-led operating system, lacks. However, this support and ease-of-use come with a larger price tag.

Linux 

Linux servers may be cheaper but require more technical knowledge – from installing to maintaining to fixing bugs. Linux does not offer the same support as Microsoft or macOS.

There is also a general misconception that Linux servers are not subject to the same vulnerabilities as other server types. However, it is just as important to secure your Linux server as with any other server. If you do not have the technical expertise to achieve this, you may find that you spend more resources on setup and maintenance. 

macOS 

For those businesses that love Apple’s features, macOS servers will be an attractive choice – the operating system offers Stacks for organization and Dark Mode for your screen. It also works harmoniously with iOS, which is perfect if your staff uses both Macs and iPhones. 

However, while Microsoft and Linux offer a range of operating systems, Apple only provides one version of macOS, which is typically updated once a year. This gives you less flexibility when choosing your solution. 

Next-gen antivirus for servers

No matter which server or operating system you choose, it’s crucial that you protect your network and endpoints. Avast Business antivirus solutions are designed to protect your business using cloud-based threat intelligence, advanced encryption technology, and multi-layered protection. Discover our server antivirus solution.