Top Ten Signs You Know It’s Time to Buy a Server

Server refers to software, hardware, or both. Server software can be the whole package, such as Mac OS X Server, or one of its features, such as the e-mail server. The Mac that Mac OS X Server runs on is also referred to as a server.

Client can refer to the Mac or PC on a user’s desk, or to a piece of user software, like an e-mail client, that talks to server software.

You’ve probably discovered that you can have a small network without a server. Macs and PCs can talk to each other. They can share files and printers, and you may be able to use a router to share an Internet connection.

But a server enables users to collaborate in ways that aren’t possible without it. A server gives you control; it centralizes data, making it easier to manage. A server provides fast access to information and collaborative tools and provides network security.

At some point, you’ll need to add a server. Here are the top ten signs you know it’s time to buy a server:

  1. You have too many computers to go around futzing with them all.

    With centralized management of client computers, you can set users’ passwords and settings for network access and install software on the client computers from the server. A server doesn’t eliminate messing with individual clients but can cut it down quite a bit.

  2. Users keep running out of hard drive space.

    Instead of replacing or adding hard drives on multiple users’ computers, put one or more hulking, huge hard drives in a server that everyone can use.

  3. Users need special software that everyone can access.

    Database software, accounting software, or software specific to your line of business needs a central location.

  4. You have critical data that would cause big problems if you lost it.

    Storing mission-critical files in one central location makes them easier to back up than when the files sit on user machines.

  5. Your Mac slows when other users are trying to get files off it.

    Your Mac or PC should work for you, not for other users. A server frees up your computer for your work. Servers can also handle multiple users faster than a client computer.

  6. People keep changing settings on Macs, messing things up.

    With a server, school computer labs and even user machines can be managed to keep or restore needed settings.

  7. People in your group need to connect to your network from home or while traveling.

    Your server can provide secure, encrypted access to your organization’s network, even while the user sits across the ocean sipping a cappuccino in a Wi-Fi cafe in Piazza Navona.

  8. You want to host your own websites.

    Whether you or your users want to temporarily post something for your own viewing or permanently for the public, having your own web server gives you the most flexibility to host one or more sites.

  9. Your e-mail inbox fills up with messages about finding times for meetings.

    A shared server-based scheduling server enables everyone to share one or more calendars. Multiple people can change details of an event or adds new ones.

  10. The number one reason that you know it’s time to get a server:

    You want to do all these things and maybe more.

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