With business growth comes new challenges that often require new equipment and technology. When your business grows to about 10 people it’s time to consider getting a server to share and store files and applications, protect and back up your data, and share equipment, such as printers.
A server can also be set up for e-mail, for your company intranet, and even to host your Web site. As a more powerful and secure solution than a workgroup or online file-sharing program, a server will help you step up your data security, increase efficiency, and create a platform for your company to grow on.
Servers go a long way toward keeping data secure within your company walls by allowing different levels of access. By setting up various folders, you can grant one department access to a folder while keeping it hidden from people in other departments; for example, there’s no reason your whole team needs to see the accountant’s folder.
Department folders also go a long way toward increasing efficiency. Creating a file structure where documents are easy and intuitive to find is important. You’ll need to have a discussion about how to organize your data and teach employees about your preferred folder hierarchies and file naming structure.
You should also inform employees of what should and should not be stored on the server. The server should be for any information that may need to be accessed by other employees or supervisors for any reason. Personal items do not belong on the server.
Backup and Security
A server is essential for creating a companywide data backup and security plan. Talk to your tech staffer or consultant about setting up a nightly backup to either a separate drive, another server, or a tape, as well as creating a redundant file system (referred to as RAID) to protect you in case a drive fails.
You’ll also want to discuss setting up a firewall to protect yourself from hackers, as well as a VPN (virtual private network) if you have employees who need to connect remotely. It’s also a good idea to keep Web and data servers separate, either on separate machines, separated by a firewall, or by hosting your site and e-mail offsite, to ensure maximum data security.
Where you store your server is also a security factor. Ideally a server should be in a locked room with limited employee and no outside access. The best firewall out there won’t protect from a physical breach, destruction, or theft. The room should be kept cool, have medium humidity, and be free of dust. Plus, your server should definitely be connected to a backup power source.
Maintenance and Monitoring
You should look into setting up a computer-safe firefighting system so you don’t ruin your machines if the sprinklers go off. It’s a good idea to install a monitoring device that will check on temperature, motion, humidity, and other things in the server room so you’re aware of any potential problems.
Monitoring the server itself is also a good idea. By checking on how your server’s memory and other utilities are being used, you can better prevent crashes, determine when you need to add more memory or another machine, and take action as soon as a problem arises.
A server can take some of the load off your technical needs. Though adding another piece of hardware can seem daunting, by centralizing data and especially applications, you can make an update in one place and have it propagate throughout your machines. A server can also allow you to set custom spam and Internet restrictions for your company and give employees more collaboration options on an intranet. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to manage your growing computer systems, it’s probably time to set up your first server.