Having a small business network is one of the most important first steps that owners should consider. Most businesses need an IT system to jumpstart their operations, but building a server isn’t always a straightforward task. Many employees and business owners often have trouble configuring the IT systems and their components.
So what’s the best way to set up servers and networks for small business owners? The first step is to select the right network components, server types, and operating systems. After all that has been settled, the next steps are to set up the server location and configure the chosen server. Lastly, it’s extremely important to secure the server and network with the help of an IT professional.
A Complete Guide to Setting Up Servers and Networks for Small Businesses
It’s no secret that technology has become an essential part of businesses. Even small business owners use different types of technology for most of their business operations, which is why it’s not surprising that 41% of them plan to increase their budget for different IT solutions.
One of the most important initial steps that business owners should take is opening server networks for their company. This allows them to streamline processes, store sensitive data, and accomplish other work-related tasks. But if you’re not sure how to start setting up a small business server and network, here’s a handy guide to help you out:
Step 1: Selecting the Equipment and Network Components
Building a small business network requires a few types of equipment. These components are responsible for handling connectivity, running business applications, and taking care of other resources that the business uses. Choosing the appropriate equipment is difficult for most business owners, which is why it’s best to consult a small business IT support team for this.
Here are some of the important network components needed when setting up servers and networks:
The firewall is an important network component that fends off attacks trying to get into the office server. Its main job is to scan all of the traffic in and out of the system and network. It serves as the first line of defense, which is why it’s important to invest in a high-quality firewall.
A network cable is needed for every device in the network to boost the team’s performance. Business owners should also consider hiring an IT company to wire the entire office with network ports, cables, and a patch panel because it’s a complex task.
Another important item in the network is the network switch – a tool that connects all the devices in the system. It also ensures that all the connected devices see the other. The network switch should be enough to accommodate all the devices in the network and a little more. If there are 20 computers in the network, then the network switch should have about 28 network ports.
Wireless Access Points
This network component is in charge of the wireless part of the network. The number of wireless access points needed depends on the size and layout of the office. It’s extremely important to have enough wireless coverage in the office to avoid issues with the signal. Companies may also hire an IT team to perform a proper wireless survey for the office.
There are tons of computers to choose from, but make sure to use business computers instead of home computers to utilize more functions. Business computers were built to withstand the daily duties of office work. They often outlast and outperform home computers. There are many options to choose from so make sure to shop around first to find the right computer that fits your budget and needs.
A network server should be the right size to support all network computers and other devices properly. Consider factors like the types and sizes of applications to be installed, number of users, and security requirements when choosing a server network. If you’re unfamiliar with the different types of server networks, make sure to consult a trusted IT team.
Step 2: Picking the Right Server
Another crucial step is choosing the right type of server – on-premise or cloud-based. While they both have their advantages and disadvantages, it all comes down to what exactly the business needs. Here’s an explanation of how the two server types work:
Cloud-based vs. On-premise Servers
Cloud-based servers work well for SMBs with limited IT resources and physical space. They’re not as quick nor efficient as on-premise servers, but they’re often enough to run basic business operations and applications. Their low cost also makes them an attractive choice for startup businesses. Another benefit of using cloud-based servers is that they’re not power-dependent – the team still has access to files as long as they’re uploaded in the cloud.
Building physical servers require a huge initial budget, but business owners won’t have to pay monthly fees. An on-premise server also gives the team better control over how everything is set up, as well as how the cybersecurity solution is integrated into the system. However, one of the main downsides of using physical servers is the cost of replacing damaged hardware, electricity consumption, and the time needed for cooling down the servers.
Step 3: Choosing the Operating System
Servers require special operating systems that are robust and designed to support a couple of users and devices simultaneously. Some of the most common operating systems for business servers are CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Linux Ubuntu Server, and Windows Server Essentials.
Selecting the appropriate operating system is an important decision that affects the cost and usability of the server. When choosing the operating system for the network, it’s important to consider the following features:
- User-Friendliness – This includes ease of use, configuration, and installation. Windows OS for servers is usually popular with most businesses because the interface and functions are similar to the Windows OS for PCs.
- Support – Since Linux is an open-source OS, teams are most likely spending most of their time online looking for ways to fix common issues within the server. On the other hand, Microsoft has multi-channel customer support that employees may contact. It’s difficult for small business owners to invest in a dedicated IT team for fixing Linux server issues, which is why Windows Server OS is almost always the default option.
- Customization – Teams that are already familiar with how Linux OS works know that this option is more customizable than Windows. However, it might take time for the team to learn about how Linux works.
- Cost – Linux is more affordable than Windows because it’s an open-sourced software. But organizations also have to consider the overall cost of IT systems and operations, including the time and expertise needed to operate and maintain these servers.
Step 4: Setting Up the Server Location
Servers should be isolated in a room for security purposes. Controlling the physical access to the servers helps the team mitigate data security risks. Having a separate server room may even be needed to comply with certain regulations and requirements.
High temperatures might damage the hardware, which is why there should be a cooling system in the room instead of windows. It should also have enough space for employees to reach the front and back of each server. The hardware should also be stored in rackmounts instead of desks.
One of the most overlooked aspects of setting up server rooms is cable management. Even small offices may end up having a tangled mess of cables in the server room, which gets in the way of hardware troubleshooting. Organize and label the cables by investing in a patch panel.
Step 5: Configuring the Server
After installing the chosen operating system, the next step is to configure the server. The steps and complexity of setting up the server depend on its specific type and functionality, but here are some of the common configurations for office servers:
- Set a secure administrator password.
- Configure the networking. Check if the default network settings are already enough for the organization’s needs.
- Add local admin accounts to the computers and connect them to the server.
- Set the server as the domain controller. This allows the computers on the network to join the centralized space for work-related files, applications, and functions. The servers also authenticate user credentials.
- Turn on the sharing options using remote access.
- Set the server backup depending on the company’s backup strategy.
- Configure the firewall to protect the network against suspicious or malicious access.
Step 6: Securing the Server and Network
The server is the most important hardware in an office because it’s responsible for different business functions like service provisions, data swapping, database management, and more. They’re the heart of daily operations and overall functioning of the business, which makes them attractive to hackers and other cybercriminals.
There are many ways to attack a server, such as putting malware, phishing scams, unsecured ports, drive-by cyberattacks, trojans, and more. Servers are still vulnerable to attacks even if they’re not connected to the internet, which is why it’s important to invest in robust cybersecurity measures. Consult with an expert IT team about the best ways to enhance your security system.
4 Common Mistakes When Setting Up New Servers and How to Avoid Them
Server building and hosting is an extremely complicated task, which is why it’s common for many business owners to make mistakes when starting. However, these mistakes may lead to legal and financial consequences so make sure to watch out for the common errors like:
1) Picking the Wrong Server Type
Since there are many types of servers available for small businesses, it’s easy for business owners to pick the wrong one. Using the wrong server type often hinders business operations which is why it’s important to carefully choose one. It might even lead to total crashes that paralyze business functions and cost hundreds of dollars on repair and damage control.
Physical servers are prone to hardware damage, as well as disasters like fires and floods. All types of servers are vulnerable to cyberattacks, so it’s also important to have appropriate security measures in place. Make sure to look at what the company needs and find which server type better suits it.
2) Selecting the Wrong Operating System
Like server types, choosing the wrong operating system may lead to lower productivity or worse, financial consequences. If the team isn’t familiar with the operating system in the servers, it prevents them from accomplishing different work-related tasks quickly because they spend most of their time looking for ways to navigate through the OS.
Unfamiliarity also increases the company’s risk of encountering cyberattacks, which is why it’s better to stick to updated but well-known OS systems. It’s also important to choose an operating system that has all the functions that the business needs to streamline its processes. When selecting an operating system for the servers, make sure to consider its user-friendliness, support, cost, and customization.
3) Underestimating Server Management
Many business owners are clueless about the ins and outs of server management. Setting up servers is a complicated task that may expose the company to tons of security risks if done incorrectly. Without years of studying server management, it’s impossible to know about the little details and best techniques in setting up a server.
The best thing that business owners should do is to hire an IT expert or a trusted server management team. They have experience in managing all kinds and sizes of servers, which allows them to avoid mistakes when setting up and managing servers.
4) Not Having Enough Power Supply
Having an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is extremely important especially for companies with physical servers. This ensures that the servers are still accessible even if there’s a power outage in the area. Make sure to have a backup power supply, as well as proper ventilation in the designated server room to keep the business running even during power interruptions.
Need Help Setting Up Your Server and Network? Get in Touch with Abacus Today
Every organization needs to invest in its own server and network at some point – whether it’s for growth, IT compliance, data security, or business requirements. Setting up a server might seem daunting for beginners, which is why Abacus is here to lend you a hand.
Our highly-skilled team of IT professionals and server management experts can help you set up your business server – from choosing the best server types to enhancing cybersecurity measures. Know more about our holistic IT solutions today by calling us at (856) 505 – 6860 and booking a consultation.