Monthly Archives: April 2010

Handy tips to consider when purchasing a Server or a PC for your Business

Hi All! In our last issue we spoke of the warning signs of PC and Server problems; today we are looking at some factors to consider before purchasing a new machine.  Also, look for more handy keyboard shortcuts, this month, Outlook shortcuts.

There will come a time when you will finally have to bite the bullet and purchase new PCs or Servers for your Business.  This article will take you through the process, outlining simple guidelines and providing handy tips.

Let’s begin with the Computer and some of the Hardware and Software considerations you should take before purchasing:

  • Is this for the home or office?
  • What role will this PC serve?
  • Are the tasks to be completed by the PC basic or complicated?
  • What Operating System do you need?
  • What tasks do you need to perform: work processing, spreadsheet calculations, photo editing?
  • At what level do you need to do the above tasks? This might determine the specific applications that you need
  • Will the PC be part of a network, if yes, you will need to get a network card
  • Dependent on the above, you will need to select the appropriate hard drive size, ram, video card and monitor size.  Other accessory and peripheral considerations include:
    • Do you need to burn CDs or DVDs?
    • Do you need to scan or print from this PC?
    • Do you need to connect more than one monitor to this PC?

Now let’s look at the Server and answer the important question of When do I need a Server?

  • Do you have more than five workstations (PCs)?
  • Are your backups dependent on daily intervention?
  • Are your Critical Operating System and Antivirus updates dependent on your daily intervention?
  • Are your critical files located in different locations on your network?
  • When you make network changes, do you need to do this at each station?
  • Do you want your files/data to be secure and only accessible to those whom you specify?

It’s time for a Server if you answer yes to the following:

  • Are there snags in your workflow?
  • Do two or more people use the same database?
  • Would operations slow down or stop, even for a small amount of time, if one computer were to crash?
  • Do you or your employees need access to email and files on the road?

Advantages of a Server Include:

Centrally Managed:

  • Disaster recovery
  • Antivirus
  • Email
  • User administration
  • Data and Network security

The Server can also:

  • Be the Primary Backup point
  • Host your email and give you control over spam and infected emails
  • Give a higher level of security
  • Deploy new software applications more easily through a network.

Hardware and Software consideration for Servers include:

  • What processor and speed should you have?
  • How many processors do you need?
  • How many network cards do you need?
  • What Server Operating System do you need?
  • What level of redundancy do you need – RAID1, RAID5?
  • Should your hard drives be SCSI, IDE, SATA?
  • Do you need redundant power supplies?
  • Do you need an UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • How many users are on your network?
  • What backup hardware and software should you use?
  • What is the role of this server – file and print, database, application?

Consider the following with regard to components, peripherals and speed for PCs and Servers:

  1. Processor and Speed: Essentially the brain of a computer, a processor is the logic circuitry that responds to and processes the basic instructions that drive a computer.  Instructions are the orders given to the processor by a computer program.  The term processor has generally replaced the term central processing unit (CPU).
  2. Hard Drive Memory: In a personal computer, a hard disk drive (HDD) is the mechanism that controls the positioning, reading and writing of the hard disk, which furnishes the largest amount of data storage for the PC.  Although the hard disk drive (often shortened to “hard drive”) and the hard disk are not the same thing, they are packaged as a unit and so either term is sometimes used to refer to the whole unit. Are you storing information primarily on this machine or your server? How many programs do you have and what hardware and RAM requirements do they demand?
  3. RAM Memory: Random Access Memory (RAM) is the place in a computer where the operating system, application programs and data in current use are kept so that they can be easily reached by the computer’s processor. RAM is much faster to read from and write to than the other kinds of storage in a computer – the hard disk, the floppy disk, the CD-ROM.  However, the data in the RAM stays there only as long as your computer is running. When you turn the computer off, RAM loses its data.  When you turn your computer on again, your operating system and other files are once again loaded into RAM, usually from your hard disk.  RAM can be compared to a person’s short-term memory and the hard disk to the long-term memory.  The short-term memory focuses on the work at hand, but can only keep so many facts in view at one time.  If the short-term memory fills up, your brain sometimes is able to refresh it from the facts stored in long-term memory.  A computer also works this way.  If RAM fills up, the processor needs to continually go to the hard disk to overlay old data in the RAM with new, slowing down the computer’s operations.  Unlike the hard disk which can become completely full of data so that it won’t accept any more, RAM never runs out of memory.  It keeps operating, but much more slowly than you want it to.Having more RAM for a server is of the essence.  Skimping her will cause frustration as all the people in your office use the server for retrieving or storing information simultaneously.
  4. RAID: (redundant array of independent disks; originally redundant array of inexpensive disks) is a way of storing the same data in different places (thus, redundantly) on multiple hard disks.  By placing data on multiple disks, operations can overlap in a balanced way, improving performance.  How critical is the data that you are storing on your server? Do you want to ensure that it will not be lost?
  5. Backup Hardware: Backup is the activity of copying files or databases so that they will be preserved in the case of equipment failure or other catastrophe.  Backup is usually a routine part of the operation of large businesses with mainframes as well as the administrators of smaller business computers.  For personal computer users, backup is also necessary but often neglected.  The retrieval of the files you have backed up is called restoring them.  How are you backing up your data in the event of a hardware failure?
  6. Operating System: An operating system (sometimes abbreviated as “OS”) is the program that manages all the other programs in a computer.  The other programs are called applications or application programs.  The application programs make use of the operating system by making requests for services.Check your software requirements to see what they recommend as optimum to run the programs you need to run your business.  IS that the one you want/need?  Will it be compatible with the other operating systems in your office?
  7. Application Programs: Examples of application programs include word processors, database programs, web browsers, development tools, drawing, paint, image editing programs and communication programs.  Application programs use the services of the computer’s operating system and other supporting programs.  Making sure your application programs are compatible with the operating systems of the operating system and existing or planned hardware must be considered at the same time.
  8. Network Card: A network interface card (NIC) is a computer circuit board or card that is installed in a computer so that it can be connected to a network. Personal computers and workstations on a local area network (LAN) typically contain a network interface card specifically designed for the LAN transmission technology.  Network interface cards provide a dedicated, full-time connection to a network.  Will this computer be part of a network or will it stand alone?
  9. Monitor: Does your job require you to have a screen that has a high resolution or will a lower resolution suffice? For word processing or spreadsheets a lower screen quality is adequate, while the highest quality is preferred for graphics work.
  10. Video Card: An integrated circuit card in a computer or, in some cases, a monitor that provides digital-to-analog conversion, video RAM, and a video controller so that data can be sent to a computer’s display.

Please note: most servers do not come with an operating system or other necessary software components.

Conclusion:

Much like brand name PC advertised on TV or in the mail, if a server has a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Unfortunately advertised prices do not include necessary hardware and software configurations required for most servers.

Business owners often suffer from ‘sticker shock’ when a PC or server is configured for them. Unfortunately, they are used to seeing advertised prices for bare bones systems that will not accomplish their goals.  The systems advertised are not realistic examples of what is necessary for business today.  Part of our job at SMB Services Limited is to help clients understand the investment they are making for the long term when they purchase the equipment they need.

In the end, it is better to do your research than end up with a computer or server that does not satisfy your business requirements.

APRIL QUICK TIP

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1. Ctrl + 1 = Mail

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Notice of Office Closure

In Observance of the religious holidays during the course of this week and next, please be advised that our offices will be closed on the following days:

Tuesday March 30, 2010

Friday April 02, 2010

Monday April 05, 2010

Remote support will be available and ongoing for all our clients.  We will reopen for business as normal on March 31st 2010 and April 01st, 2010 and then on April 06, 2010.

SMB Services Limited wishes you and your loved ones a safe and enjoyable Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day and A Happy and Holy Easter.

Rating 2.00 out of 5