If you look at this diagram what you will see is that all the computers, the internet and printer are attached to a server computer which runs the network. This computer is called the server computer.

Since everything goes into the server if it is slow everything runs slow. If you have a small system of up to two or three computers then often this server is used as a regular computer too. However, once you get to about five computers, most people have a server computer that does nothing else but runs the network. It is the first machine turned on in the morning and is the last one to be turned off. Because nothing works unless the server is on, if the server is down your business may come to a halt. If the network speed is slow, it costs you in salaries, your time and bad customer service all who are useless waiting for the computers. For this reason, the server is often the best computer on the network.

A useful rule to speed up your network is turning off all computers that are not being used.

What we often do is when a client needs a new computer, is retire the computer that is getting replaced, get them a good computer which we use as a server and use the existing server computer as the replacement computer.

The next question people often ask is it better to buy a server or have one built. This is a difficult question to answer. If you ask people, half will answer buy, and the rest will say build. If I am buying a server, I often look at the specifications and say I like the processor, the RAM is good, but the hard drive could be a lot better and besides they really need........ An off the shelf server often does not suit. Conversely what people do like is that many brought computers have a manufacturers warranty. This warranty often is good although in practice often can be limited. For example, if you were to say that the server is intermittently failing, I have seen them refuse to fix it until the user can prove it is happening. If you report something is wrong, they come out and look at it and decided that the computer is fine or that they never guaranteed it the way you are using it, that your version of windows is not covered, etc then you can get a big bill as the manufacturer's charge-out rate which generally is huge. We have an additional problem that we cannot fix the server, as the manufacturer warranty is voided if we do. With us, one big plus is that unlike many suppliers, we offer a warranty whether you buy or have one built.

Overall I have yet to see anyone who bought a server, who at one stage has not wished that they brought a bigger one. So I would recommend for the slight additional cost to get a better one.

If possible, try and store it in a room away from everyone as they often are noisy. Try putting it in a spot which does not get too hot which is not damp. Try and put it in a place that is away from pests, we frequently find spiders living in servers. Because of dust, I prefer computer tower cases as the dust tends to settle at the bottom where its easy to clean. Try surrounding it with wood, I never recommend metal cupboards. If you look after your server, you should get many years of service from them.