Recently I was asked: For a small business scenario with file sharing and a database would it be a better move at upgrade time to pull the server and replace it with a decent NAS and transfer the email accounts that runs on exchange to a hosted exchange account?
Great question! I found that most people don’t even know what a NAS is. So let’s start with that. A NAS, or Network Attached Storage device, is a RAID of hard drives that is used for file sharing. A NAS doesn’t run software or have many security features like a server does, but it’s a great option for those that are looking to install a hybrid solution of onsite file storage and cloud software and email and reduce costs. A NAS is about ½ the price of a traditional server since your eliminating the cost of all the user licenses.
What are the benefits of a NAS?:
- Cost – As mentioned above, a NAS is less expensive from the hardware perspective as well as they are easier to maintain so your overall maintenance cost decrease.
- Additional Storage Space – A NAS allows you to easily add additional storage space to your network. This is ideal for companies that work with large data files like a print company or graphic designer.
- Data protection – Offer full-proof (RAID) central back up, which can be automated, for extra data protection.
- Less to go wrong – Since a NAS only serves as a data storage device it is very unlikely that the NAS will become corrupt and need reloaded. Most servers that have issues have software issues that cause corruption since there are so many software running on a server (i.e. ERP, accounting, payroll, Operating System, Printer software, etc.).
On the other hand, today’s small businesses servers are easy to use, and provide many benefits to a small business. Some of the advantages to using a server are:
- Security – Allows you to control who has access to what data, and how they access it from both outside and inside the organization.
- Business Applications – Store shared application data in one central location, such as Sage, PC Law, ERP, EMR, or other 3rd party applications.
- Remote Web Access – Users can securely access their data and desktops from outside the office
- Automatic Desktop Backups – Users no longer have to think about backing up their desktops. The server takes care of this for them, ensuring that their data is always backed up.
- Patches and Other Security Actions – The server will push updates to the users, and from an easy to read Dashboard you can see what systems are lacking current security measures.
There are many options for small businesses. If your workflow is mostly cloud-based, a server may not be necessary, and your resources could be better utilized in other aspects of your business. But if you need more control, flexibility, and growth a server may be your best solution. Talk to your qualified IT professional to see what option would be best for your environment and budget.