Servers – Types and Functionality
Have you ever wanted to be able to access all of your important files, music, photos, and more from all computers in your home from one central server? The solution is to setup Server at your home or office.
A server acts as a central repository for programs and/or data, letting employees access those things from inexpensive clients (terminals or workstations) that have a minimal amount of hardware, or remotely via a secure connection. Most also come with print server capabilities that let you share one or more printers over the network.
Storage & Database Servers
Some servers are designed to store files or databases so employees can access and store them in a managed environment. Serving files or databases this way helps prevent issues with multiple versions being stored and modified on multiple computers, and it simplifies backup and security, as all that is handled on the server. Storage servers are constrained by capacity. Buy one that accommodates all your files but still has plenty of room for backup storage and future files. Getting an expandable storage server that lets you easily add drives later is also a good idea, and a good way to save money is to buy one equipped with only the storage you need and then add drives later. Hard drive prices drop considerably over time even as their performance and capacity increases, so you can save a lot of money by holding off on storage upgrades. Database servers are restricted mainly by the number of simultaneous requests for data they can handle. When shopping for one, be sure to buy a server robust enough to handle all our employees and with enough expansion capacity to accommodate the growth of your business.
In a business without a server, employees have their own computers and software must be licensed, installed, and updated on each individual machine. An application server streamlines that by hosting applications such as Microsoft Office on the server. Employees then connect to the server to launch the software. This can cut down dramatically on licensing fees; reduces employee workstation hardware requirements because the server does all the heavy lifting; and makes it much easier to update, configure, and secure applications. Application servers also help you save money when new programs come out that have relatively high system requirements. When this happens, you can upgrade the server to meet the requirements instead of upgrading multiple PCs.
Email, Web & FTP Servers
Managing all types of Internet access is crucial for all businesses, and it is difficult to restrict usage or stave off threats across multiple separate PCs. Instead, consider an email server that lets you centrally control and store all employee emails, or an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server that lets emplo es remotely and securely access files from the road. Web servers also exist that let you host your own company Web site. Many small businesses find that it’s easier to engage a reputable Web hosting company (which is up to date on the latest security techniques) than to host a Web site. A Web host handles the nuts and bolts of Web hosting but lets you configure the site. You handle the parts that matter to you and leave the rest to the Web host.
Windows Small Business Server
When a business is first getting off the ground, it often starts out with a handful of networked computers. As the business grows over time and more people and computers are added, it soon becomes pretty tough to keep track of where important data files are stored, who is allowed to access them, and how-or even whether-they’re being backed up. When you arrive at this point, it pays to invest in a server to give your business centralized data storage, access control, and backup. Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, which is a simplified and streamlined version of its Windows Server 2008 for large companies, provides all of these features and then some. It’s designed for small firms with 25 or fewer users, and you don’t need to be an IT guru to use it. We’ll show you how to set up an SBS 2011 Essentials server and connect your computers to it. Computer Repair Las Vegas NV
What You’ll Need
SBS 2011 Essentials has pretty modest system requirements, so it will run quite well on an entry-level, sub-$1,000 server. You can view the detailed requirements at tinyurl.com/4ux9eo. (It’s worth noting that SBS 2011 Essentials should not be confused with SBS 2011 Standard, a more powerful and expensive version for businesses with up to 75 users.) As of this writing, major server vendors aren’t yet offering products with SBS 2011 Essentials installed (though they likely will before long). An alternative to purchasing a server with SBS 2011 Essentials included is to buy one without an operating system and pick up a copy of the software separately to install yourself. A good choice for a basic server is the HP ProLiant MicroServer ($329; www.hp.com), which is small and quiet, reasonably powerful, and relatively inexpensive. You’ll find the SBS 2011 Essentials software for about $400 from a variety of online vendors. If you’d like to take SBS 2011 Essentials for a spin before buying it, download a 60-day trial version from tinyurl .com/4n63qw2.. You can extend the trial period twice for a total of 240 days visit support.microsoft .com/kb/948472 to see how) and convert the trial version to a licensed copy if you decide to keep it. (The steps outlined below apply whether you’re working with the evaluation or purchased copy.) In addition to your server computer, you’ll also want to get a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), an Internet connection via a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)-compatible broadband router, and for backup purposes, an external hard drive (USB, eSATA, or Firewire) with storage capacity equal to or greater than your server. The computers you connect to your SBS 2011 Essentials server can be running any version of Windows 7, Vista, or WinXP, including Home and Starter editions, or Mac systems running OS X 10.5 or higher. (This article focuses on setting up Win7 systems.)
Install SBS 2011 Essentials
Before installing SBS 2011 Essentials (which we’ll just call SBS from now on) on a server, be sure it has a wired Ethernet connection to your router and is plugged into the UPS-you don’t want the server to lose power, particularly during the lengthy setup process. Also, be sure there aren’t any external hard drives attached to the server just yet because they can cause the installation to fail. To install SBS, you must boot the server directly from the operating system DVD, so turn on your server and immediately look for a boot/startup menu option (often F2, F10, or F12) that will let you do this. When the SBS setup wizard starts, choose New Installation, verify that your server’s hard drives have been detected, and then click Install. SBS will carve out a 60GB partition on the primary hard drive for the operating system, and the remaining space/ drives will be available to store your data. If the wizard doesn’t detect any or all of your server’s hard drives, you’ll need to click the Load Drivers button and provide a disc that contains the necessary drivers. At this point the wizard will start copying files, and when it’s finished, SBS configuration can begin.
Initial SBS Configuration
The SBS setup wizard will now walk you through a number of basic server configuration steps. You’ll be asked to set the server’s date and time and enter your operating system license key (if you don’t have one yet, you can skip it for now). Then the wizard will prompt you to enter your company’s name, choose an internal domain name for your network, and name your server. Next up is to create a pair of user accounts. The first is an administrator account, which will only be used to manage the server. The second is your standard user account, which you’ll use to log in to the server for normal day-to-day activities such as accessing files, etc. (We’ll tell you how to set up additional user accounts later.) Note that SBS 2011 Essentials requires the use of strong passwords by default, so it will tell you if the passwords you choose for either of your accounts don’t make the grade. After you specify your server’s automatic update options (it’s a good idea to let the server update itself so it always has the latest security patches, etc.), SBS will begin configuring itself in a process that can take 30 minutes or longer and will involve several automatic reboots. When the wizard is complete, your server will greet you with the Windows Desktop sporting wallpaper that warns against using the system as a general purpose workstation. In fact, you generally won’t need to touch the server at all, because SBS is designed to be remotely managed from a PC via a Dashboard app. Log off the server now; it’s time to connect your first computer to the server, after which we’ll be able to continue with server configuration.