Sooner or later a growing business will need a server of some sort to allow staff to share information and collaborate. There may be fewer name brand manufacturers selling servers these days but the reality is that there's as much choice as ever, thanks to the ever widening range of server categories.
In this Top Ten we've selected the crème de la crème of servers, ranging from simple network storage device, through servers aimed at small businesses to the sorts of servers large enterprises depend on.
So here, in no particular order, are the top ten servers for businesses large and small from basic level Network attached storage (NAS) servers, to high-tech high-spec Blade servers you can build a growing business on,
Network attached storage servers
1/ Synology DiskStation DS212j
About the size of a shoebox, this NAS server might be super-compact but it packs a lot of functionality in its diminutive form-factor.
Sold without hard drives, this two drive-bay unit supports RAID 0, 1 and JBOD disc configurations, and if you're looking for something bigger, then larger versions of the DiskStation are available, which can take up to a dozen drives.
Synology's well-regarded server OS, DiskStation Manager (DSM), is supplied on CD and is easily installed from a network PC. DSM is a full-featured server OS, lacking only the bells and whistles required by large organisations. You get the usual file sharing (supporting Windows, Mac and Linux platforms), printer sharing, plus a basic mail server as well as support for DLNA media streaming. You can even set up your own private cloud storage for sharing data with remote users. An online app centre lets you download free upgrades and add-ons – free antivirus protection is one must-have available.
A couple of USB 2.0 ports let you plug in external storage for backup – both desktop PC and server backups are supported. Last but not least, the DS212J sips electricity, just 17.5W, and runs whisper-quiet.
2/ Buffalo TeraStation Pro TS-QVH12TL/R6EU
Despite its mouthful of a name, this TeraStation Pro is a very capable NAS device. Carrying a price tag worthy of a full-blown server, this device features the increasingly common Intel Atom 1.66GHz Dual Core CPU with 2GB RAM.
Basic management info is displayed in an LCD panel at the front. Underneath it are four drive bays holding a total of 12GB of hot-swappable storage. As you might expect a variety of RAID configurations are supported: RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 as well as JBOD. Connectivity is also very good, with pairs of Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on board. Interestingly it additionally features a 9-pin UPS port and a switch to toggle between booting from the internal disks or a USB drive.
It's no laggard either offering very good read/write speeds and good integration with existing networks, supporting an alphabet soup of file sharing protocols: CIFS/SMB, AFP, HTTP/HTTPS, FTP/FTPS/SFTP, NFS file sharing protocols as well as LDAP and Active Directory.
On top of this it also features a print server, a web server, MySQL database server support, a BitTorrent server, virus scanning, Amazon S3 support and Time Machine compatibility.
3/ QNAP TS-219P II
Superficially, the TS-219P resembles the Synology DS212J – sold without disks, it's roughly the same size (ie small) and can take a pair of drives. But it's noticeably dearer and this premium means it enjoys a superior specification – a fast 2GHz Marvell Kirkwood MV6282 CPU, 512MB of DDR3 RAM, hot-swappable drives, three USB 2.0 ports and a pair of eSATA ports, a comparative rarity on NAS boxes. RAID is supported, with RAID 0, 1 as well as JBOD.