Server Alternatives: What is right for your company?

Server Alternatives

Server Alternatives: What is right for your company?

If your server is old, working slowly or inconsistently it may be time to start looking at server alternatives. Depending on how the company uses the server will determine the server alternatives available.  Some business owners decide it is time to try something new while others know that the programs they use still demand the use of a server.  A closer look from a knowledgeable IT technician can present some server alternatives.

Why move away from a server?

Secure Access

The office has changed. Staff members are working in a variety of locations instead of just the office environment. Even in different locations, employees still need to share files. A server allows for shared files and shared access through a Remote Gateway or VPN. This requires licensing and management. It will be unreliable though if the equipment is older.  Internet connection quality at the office or at the remote location also effects the reliability of the access.

Servers need to be maintained and require hardware updates. It is expensive to buy a new server, have it configured and data moved to it. It also requires a knowledgeable IT technician to complete the configuration and advise on appropriate equipment for the company’s needs.  This is definitely worth the time and expense when the staff needs to access common software that is hosted on the server.

Transition from a server to SharePoint or GoogleDrive

There is another option if the company is not tied to program that is hosted on a server. If the company needs a place to share files, there are other solutions.  SharePoint gives a great option for sharing files with the whole company, specific groups and individuals securely.  It is easy to access the files through the Microsoft 365 online portal anywhere that has an Internet connection.  It is easy to manage access since everyone that has a Microsoft license can access the files from anywhere in the world.

Secure Access to Files and Folders

Access is attached to their license so if someone new starts with the company, s/he will have access right away.  When someone is terminated, the same holds true and the access can be removed instantly without losing access to files created by the staff member. Certain files and folders are protected in a server with domain permissions.  The same is true for SharePoint.  Each site, folder or file has access restrictions or allowances.  So some folders may be open for public access so a rep from another organization can access its contents.  While other sites or folders may be accessible only by certain departments within the company or even just between a couple people.

Easy Access to Files

Employees do not always like change to the work flow.  So they may not like the idea of having to access their files online.  Microsoft has a solution for this issue.  The site or folder can be synced to the File Explorer.  Most staff recognize File Explorer as the little yellow folder at the bottom of their screen.  They have used this in the past to access files from the mapped network drives or shared server files.  Sharepoint syncs to this folder so files are easily accessible in a familiar location.  It is also easier since staff can easily save and open files in other Office programs like Word and Excel since it is easy to browse to the location in the File Explorer in these programs.

Are there Google Server Alternatives?

Google Workspace also has a file server alternative.  So if the company uses Google based email, GoogleDrive allows for folders and files to be shared between employees.  They can also be shared outside the organization as well.  The files are saved as GoogleDocs and Sheets instead of in Word or Excel format but can be reformatted when downloaded or shared.

Backup & Sync for Easy Access

GoogleDrive was originally created to be an online platform but now has a way to sync documents to the File Explorer as well.  Backup & Sync allows folders to be synced and opened on the desktop.  There is not a Google program to open the files so they will open in Office software or online.

Security

With a server, the security was provided through a VPN or Remote Gateway but these are not needed since the files are in the cloud.  This takes out one step that can lead to failed file access if it malfunctions or has not been set up yet but also makes companies nervous about security.  Security is paramount when considering company files.  SharePoint and GoogleDrive are easy to access online so it is important to keep secure.   Microsoft protects SharePoint and Google protects Drive with Multifactor Authentication.  So even if a hacker discovers an employee’s password, the text message or app authentication can prevent access to the account.

Server Alternatives: Issues and Solutions

I have QuickBooks and other on-premise software and don’t want to go online.

Specialty software requires a different types of server alternatives.  SharePoint and GoogleDrive are excellent alternatives for a file server but will not host specialty software.  Many times the data for the software will also need to be held on the server or the alternative device.  If QuickBooks or other software needs to be accessed by different people at the same time, a server is required.  If only one person needs to access the software at one time, a computer can be used.  This computer can be set up for remote access if a staff member needs to access it from home.  The server or computer will need to be backed up to ensure the data will not be lost if the computer dies or crisis hits.

Do Server Alternatives work for Large Files?

Architects and Engineers work with large files and having the ease of accessing data out in the field is ideal. Since these files are so large it is best to VPN from these remote locations to the server.  Bringing large files from the cloud to the computer and uploading them afterwards can take a long time to process.

Will SharePoint or GoogleDrive bog down my computer?

Most of the time working with SharePoint and GoogleDrive will not slow down the computer.  The speed of access depends on the Internet connection since the files are held in the cloud.  So any edits will need to upload to the cloud through the Internet.  So when employees are working in the office or remotely, their connection to the files is dependent on their Internet connection speed.  If it is very slow, the time it takes to access files or upload changes will be slow as well.  This is the same though for accessing files remotely through a VPN though too.

Do I need backups?

Servers needs to be backed up since it is the vessel for programs and files. SharePoint and GoogleDrive files do not need to be backed up.  Microsoft and Google are large companies that have data centers all over the world.  The information in the cloud is held in large data centers that are well protected.  The biggest threat comes from employees that mistakenly delete company files from a server or the cloud.  SharePoint allows users to rescue files that have been mistakenly deleted for 90 days which solves most problems when an employee deletes a file or folder.  These files also can be backed up though. Both SharePoint and GoogleDrive files can be downloaded as a whole and backed up to an on-site device or off-site to protect against crimes like Ransomware attacks.  The biggest safeguard is protecting the account with multifactor authentication to avoid an account breach.

What is the right solution for my company?

There are many factors that affect the choices business owners make to select a secure, easily accessible solution for a server or server alternative.  BlueKey IT Services helps business owners find a solution that will work best for their needs.  In fact, BlueKey offers a free a Network Assessment for businesses that are interested in figuring out what may work best for them.  TeamBlue also offers IT consulting for its clients that have an aging server that needs replacing or options for server alternatives to replace it.  Give BlueKey IT a call to explore the server alternative that is best suited for your company!

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