As a small business, you need to be prepared for every eventuality, no matter what industry you’re in. This is especially true when it comes to managing and securing your files, folders, and any other important business data.
These days, a lot of businesses are moving their file storage to cloud servers. However, if you want complete control over your data storage and the fastest possible transfer speeds, nothing beats having your own local server.
But with so many small office servers to choose from, how do you find the right one for you? Fortunately, I've done the hard work for you. Over the past few months, I've tested out numerous computer servers for small business options. Today, I'm here to present you with the five best server for small business solutions. In no fixed order, they are:
- Lenovo ThinkServer TS150 (Eco-friendly High Storage Capacity Server)
- Dell PowerEdge T30 Mini Tower (Portable and Powerful Server)
- NetGear ReadyNAS 424 (Excellent for Data backups)
- Super Micro 5039A-IL (Cost saving Dual-function Server)
- HPE ProLiant Gen10 (Easy to Customize and Cheap)
Recommended for: small businesses looking for an environmentally friendly computer server.
Price from around: $999.50
It comes with four 3.5" hard drive bays and one 2.5" bay.
That's excellent news as it means the TS150 is compatible with RAID 5 storage setups. Remember, you need at least four disks to set up a RAID 5 configuration which will protect your data from drive failure.
The TS150 comes with Microsoft Server 2016 installed by default but is also compatible with VMWare Vsphere, Red Hat Enterprise Server and Windows 10.
The lowest-tier configuration costs $999.50 and includes a 3.2GHz dual-core Intel Core Core i3-6100T processor.
However, for a little extra power, you can upgrade to a $1599.50 four-core 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E3-1245 version. All variants can be configured with up to 64GB RAM.
Eco-Friendly and Quiet
The TS150 stands out because of its low power consumption. Thanks to the use of 1.2V DDR4 memory and efficient processors, the TS150 consumes far less energy than comparable servers. It's also extremely quiet, maxing out at a 26dB noise level.
- RAID 5 compatible
- Up to 64GB memory
- Environmentally friendly
- Very quiet
- More expensive than competitors
- Doesn't support drive hot swapping
Recommended for: users looking for a balance between cost and power.
Price from around: $448
By default, the PowerEdge T30 comes with a 1TB HDD, however, it can support up to four 3.5" drives or six 2.5" drives. That means the Dell T30 is also compatible with RAID 5 configurations.
It's possible to get the T30 for just $447 through Amazon, far cheaper than Dell's own $629 price-tag. And although it's affordable, the T30 is still a great performer when it comes to power.
It uses a 3.3GHz four-core Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 CPU which should provide enough processing grunt for any small businesses.
The maximum amount of memory this server can support is 64GB. Unfortunately, no operating system is installed by default. If you want to use a premium OS like Microsoft Windows Server 2016, don't forget to budget for the cost of a software license.
- Smaller chassis than competitors
- Power CPU included
- Up to 64GB RAM
- Extremely affordable
- Only comes with a single CPU option
- No operating system included
Recommended for: users wanting to create a local cloud business backup system.
Price from around: $399
All the servers we've looked at already are file servers which are great for general use cases like hosting email systems. However, the NetGear ReadyNAS 424 isn't one of those. It's a Network Attached Server (NAS).
NAS systems are better for specific uses like rapid file backups. In fact, the ReadyNAS 424 comes with ReadyCLOUD software pre-installed.
This effectively turns the ReadyNAS 424 into a cloud storage system, one that can automatically backup and sync files to your server remotely.
Consequently, the ReadyNAS 424 is an excellent option for small business data storage.
However, don't use this server if you want to host email accounts or run more general server-side applications because there's no easy way to remove the proprietary software.
Under Powered Processor
Besides, the ReadyNAS 424's default resources aren't powerful enough for other server applications. It uses a slow dual-core 1.5GHz Intel Atom C3338 Processor and only has 2GB of DDR4 memory. Essentially, it doesn't have the processing grunt to do much other than transfer and store files.
This server comes with four disk bays, each of which can support a 12TB hard drive. That means the ReadyNAS 424 can be configured with up to 48TB of storage. At the time of writing, it's possible to buy a disk-free ReadyNAS 424 server for $399 through Amazon. In short, this server solution is an affordable way for your small business to securely store a large amount of data.
- Excellent for file storage
- One of the cheapest small business servers
- Up to 48TB storage
- Automatic backup and sync software
- Not suitable for general server applications
- Slow processor and limited memory
- Can't install standard server software
Recommended for: those looking for a customizable barebones server solution.
Price from around: $454.99
The Super Micro SuperWorkstation 5039A-IL, which is available for $454.99 at New Egg, is an excellent example.
As part of the Super Micro SuperWorkstation range, this server can actually be used to run a standard desktop environment as well as more commonplace server-side applications.
This dual-functionality will be greatly appreciated by smaller businesses who need to save costs.
However, this isn't a great option if your business is short on space. The 5039A-IL has a footprint of 7.5 by 17 inches and weighs nearly 40 pounds.
The upside to that large size is that you get a ton of room to install upgrades.
The 5039A-IL is a barebones server and can accept eight hard drives. Yes, you read that correctly! It also has six PCI slots and can be configured with up to 64GB RAM.
How can it support such an impressive spec sheet? Because the 5039A-IL is powered by a 500W power supply, which is significantly more powerful than the 200W supplies that come with most servers on this list.
The downside to such a large power supply is that this server also uses more energy than the average small business server.
- Jaw-dropping expandability
- Can be used as a standard desktop computer
- Relatively affordable
- Large and heavy chassis
- Uses a lot of energy
Recommended for: businesses looking for affordability and easy customizability.
Price from around: $367
It uses a square chassis to avoid taking up more space than necessary.
If you like to change up your server setup from time to time, I suggest that you give this option some consideration.
Easy access to hard drive bays, memory slots and PCIe plugs make upgrading this little server a breeze.
This is an exceptionally cheap small office server, clocking in at just $367 with its base configuration.
If you're on a tight budget, this may well be the right choice for you.
Unfortunately, HP has skimped on the technical specs to achieve that low price point. The starter processor is an underwhelming 1.6-3.0 GHz dual-core AMD Opteron CPU. 8GB of memory is included as standard, though you can upgrade to 32GB.
No hard drives are included with the cheapest HPE ProLiant Gen10 version, though up to four can be installed.
HPE ClearOS software comes free with all ProLiant servers. This software includes an easy-to-use web interface that helps you configure your server.
Consequently, HP ProLiant Gen10 is one of the best small business servers for beginners.
- Small chassis is great for offices with limited space
- Easy to upgrade
- Great for beginners thanks to the graphical interface
- Relatively underpowered CPU
- Memory maxes out at 32GB
Picking the Best Server for Small Business Owners
Although the servers I've listed here are all excellent options, make sure you consider your unique requirements when deciding which is right for you:
- Lenovo ThinkServer TS150 is a great energy-saving option
- Dell PowerEdge T30 Mini Tower is a powerful small business server with a small footprint
- NetGear ReadyNAS 424 is great if you need to make fast data backups
- Super Micro 5039A-IL can function as a standard desktop, saving you cash
- HPE ProLiant Gen10 is insanely cheap and ideal for customization
If you're put off by the high price of any of these best server for small business options, I highly advise you to consider using a cloud storage solution instead. A cloud storage subscription is generally much cheaper than maintaining your own physical server system.
But what do you think, do you agree with my choices? If I've missed out any of your favorite best servers, comment below!