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When to Use a Server Instead of a Desktop

When making judgment calls for your business, it's sometimes hard to know when the cheaper option is a viable one, and when you truly will get what you pay for. If you search on Google®, you may find articles that support the use of desktops as servers. The phrase that comes to mind is: "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." We want our customers to be set up for success but using a desktop computer as a server will cause more harm than good and here's why. 

The Difference Between Desktops and Servers

What is a server? A server is a computer that has been given the function of "serving" a particular need for multiple users and is the center of the network. A desktop computer, on the other hand, is equipped for everyday employees, business owners, students, and families to use. Let's first start by creating a clear line between desktops and servers. In simple terms, desktops and servers are and should be two completely separate entities. A laptop or desktop should be used as a workstation, while a server is intended to serve. For example, if you go to a restaurant, would you want another patron to bring you your food? Probably not. You're definitely expecting a server to bring your food. The same is true with desktops and servers as they have different capabilities and functions. 

Laptop/Desktop  Server
User-friendly operating system Manages all network resources
Speed and capacity suitable for one userHas a large capacity for all company workstations
Not always online or powered onAlways running
Can share data between a few co-workersShares data company-wide
Lack of permissions controlSecures resources based on employee position or department

Ultimately, there are cases when a desktop can be used as a server in the interim, but it shouldn't be a long-term solution. With the popularity of cloud-based collaboration rising the last several years, we often see businesses believe that if their data is stored on the cloud, it's untouchable. However, those files could still be rendered inaccessible. For example, if a client saved all of their data to cloud storage, they wouldn't be able to reach it during an internet outage. If they had that same data, documents, etc. stored on a server, they would be able to continue operations with their local server. If you invest in a server, we highly recommend that regular backups are made. At TRS, we backup files on the server regularly. This way if an important file is deleted, we can restore it from our last backup and save the day!

How We Can Help

We firmly believe that every business has different needs and resources. We would be happy to have an even more in-depth conversation with you about your company's needs and the limits of using a desktop as a server. 

January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month