Why a regular PC is not suitable as a business server.
A PC that meets minimum requirements can be set up as a simple server. Nice as a hobby project or at home as a media server, but the question is whether you turn a regular PC into a reliable server for your company. Why can you better choose a real server for business?
For convenience, SMEs often set up a PC as a server. There was another machine, so why spend extra money on a server? That’s how it works? They are all just computers! But there are a number of reasons why that is not a good idea.
1. A crucial part of the IT infrastructure
A PC is a generic computer that allows end users to run a wide range of desktop applications. Multiple programs can run simultaneously, but they are used by only one user. A server, on the other hand, excels in serving multiple users simultaneously and can simultaneously perform large amounts of tasks. They often fulfill a specialized role. Think of a file, database or web server, or a server running an ERP or CRM system.
A server is therefore a crucial part of your organization’s IT infrastructure, needs to be available 24×7, has high reliability and can withstand heavy loads. For that reason alone, you may wonder how sensible it is to use a generic PC for this. After all, it is not designed or intended for that at all. Only one employee suffers from a faltering desktop. If you use it as a server, it has an impact on the entire organization and your customers.
2. Smarter features
Servers and PCs basically use the same basic components. Think of processors, memory, and storage. But there are essential differences. First of all, the Xeon E3 family is up to 5.8 times more powerful than a 4-year-old desktop PC. The instruction set of an Intel Xeon server processor is also much more extensive. Such a processor has additional instructions to ensure the integrity of the system right from the start. So even before the operating system and security software is loaded. This prevents malicious code from nesting invisibly in the system. A system based on the Intel Xeon processor also offers redundant storage, allowing data to be retrieved quickly in the event of a hard-drive error.
Special ECC memory of servers also has smart error detection methods, with which memory errors are detected and corrected. That is less important for a desktop. After all, the impact is limited if changes to a document are lost because the PC unexpectedly crashes with a ‘blue screen’ after a memory error. With servers, the damage and inconvenience are great, so high reliability is a prerequisite. This is why server components have a higher quality and they are carefully coordinated by the supplier in order to guarantee the best possible operation.
3. Remote management and redundancy
Thanks to a special management interface you can easily operate servers remotely. That is quite different from the remote desktop of the operating system on a regular PC. Via the management interface, you can also access the server if it is off because it is an independent hardware component. You can check the status of the system, adjust the configuration, analyze log files and of course start up or shut down the system.
Furthermore, components of servers can be implemented redundantly. So that a high uptime is feasible and a defect of a component does not lead directly to downtime. Think of dual power supplies, network cards and hard disk controllers with better support for disks in a RAID setup. If a component is unexpectedly broken, it can be replaced without having to switch off the system. Thanks to these hot-swappable components, downtime is reduced to an absolute minimum.
4. The price difference is small
Often there is the impression that a server is unnecessarily expensive and that a much cheaper PC, which may already be unused on a desk, is also suitable to get the job done. But the price difference appears to be small under the line. You already have a server with a similar configuration as a PC for an additional cost of about $ 160. This gives you better performance and more reliability for just 10 cents per day for 4 years.
You can also turn it around. For a small additional charge, you benefit from the extra advantages of a real server. Think of a very high availability, reliable components specifically intended for servers that are perfectly aligned and a performance that is much better. After all, a server is specially designed to be used 24x7x365 and is resistant to continuous and heavy loads. It is not so much the question whether you need a server, but rather which one you can best use for your company.
5. You are not alone
Of course, there may also be something wrong with a server. That is why it is important that you conclude a maintenance contract. In this, you make clear agreements with the supplier about the desired reaction and repair time. Servers nowadays send signals to the supplier at an early stage if problems arise with a component. So that there is often a courier with replacement parts on your doorstep before you yourself have noticed that something is wrong. For example, the system signals that a memory module or a disk is correcting an error just too often. Fortunately, you do not notice anything of that, but as a precaution, you are immediately notified of this. So that the component is replaced preventively and problems are prevented.