A clinic owner called us because her team was experiencing slow server access, and we are a local IT services provider.
We went to her office to perform an assessment. We found some scary server practices in play. We're sharing this story with you because we want to help you avoid the pitfalls of using a computer as a server.
Using A Computer As A Server
a.k.a. A Frankenserver
In this office (and in many others we have assessed), the owner purchased a regular computer and installed server software on it to use it as a server. But this is not a server. This is a workstation, trying to be a server, without the additional safeguards that a true server is equipped with, such as powerful memory to run server applications, redundant drives, redundant power supplies and error checking memory.
Sooner or later, this workstation will fail as a server.
This is especially true when a frankenserver like this is also used as a workstation by anyone in the office due to:
- increased risk for network wide malware and viruses (it came as no surprise that when scanned, thisFrankenserver had 3 viruses on it)
- increased risk for relatively benign errors such as a software crash causing data loss on the server (this also happens on workstations, but the consequences are greater on a server)
Cutting Costs Leads To IT Problems
This owner didn’t hire a reputable IT company to advise them when planning their server purchase. They opted to cut costs instead. This ill advised computer as a server strategy increases risk for a small business owner.
In addition to using a frankenserver, and then doubling it as a workstation, this office also had no data backup in place. So if (or rather, when) that workstation crashes or dies, all of the client and sales records for this clinic could be lost forever. And with 3 viruses on the "server" when we assessed it, that is a real possibility.
Did you know that 40% of businesses that experience a data loss like that close forever? Every small business needs a good data backup solution. If you have on site back up, such as an external drive, that is a good start, however it does not protect your data and your business in the event of a fire, flood or theft. Maybe you take the drive home and think you are safe, but fire, flood and theft can happen there too. Also, drives can be lost or damaged in transit. Offsite data backup is a better option that can protect from more risk factors.
Correcting The IT Problems
So in this office, we have a computer as a workstation, infected with viruses, and no back up in place. We proposed the following recommendations:
- Installation of a dedicated Windows Server 2012
- Online data backup of clinic data with Canadian cloud provider
- Wipe and reload a clean, virus free operating system on the current franksenserver and assign it to the admin employees to use
- Add office wide antivirus on all devices - use a product with a subscription for active filtering, such as BitDefender
- Do not allow anyone to use the server - remove monitor keyboard and mouse from server to remove temptation (also known as a headless server) and add an administrators only password so that no one except manage and IT Support can access the server
Nearly 90% of business owners recognize the value of professional IT advice, but only 37% use professional IT advice when planning or implementing business strategy. To avoid grave consequences, get professional advice from a tech support company before you make IT purchases or plans.
IT Services In Toronto: For business owners in Toronto looking for small business IT Solutions, call on TUCU. Established in 2003, we offer server, network, cloud and IT support and solutions for busy professionals and small teams.