Affordable Server for Small Offices

Low Cost and Low Noise

Our two biggest complaints about servers for small offices are cost and noise. In the past you have had a hard choice. Choose a quieter desktop computer that saves money but sacrifices safety. Or buy a loud, pricey low-end server with redundant drives and higher quality parts.

But now Lenovo offers the ThinkServer TS200v, a small server with the noise level of a PC but the features of a true server. Pricing of any server depends on many options.

Here is a suggested *minimum configuration* for a small office or solo. The more users in the office, the more RAM and hard disk space you will need.

Lenovo ThinkServer TS200v 0981 - *$825* from (as of 2010-10-12)

  • Intel Pentium G6950 2.8 GHz processor
  • 2 x 250 GB hard drives (SATA 300, 7200 RPM)
  • RAID 1 (second drive mirrors the first for redundancy)
  • 4 GB RAM (2 GB standard, 2 GB added as an option for $94.99 incl. in price)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation

Of course, any server needs to have a backup systems, uninterruptible power supply and other devices, but this configuration provides a good basis for comparison to servers from Dell, HP and others.

Don't try to buy computers from the Lenovo website; talk about aggravating! You are much better off calling CDW to talk with a knowledgeable representative or using the CDW website to configure your server.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation

The TS200v comes with Microsoft's entry level server operating system, Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation. This software supports up to 15 users without requiring you to buy CALs (Client Access Licenses), making it very affordable. You can install MS SQL Server 2005 Express or MS SQL Server 2008 Express for free in order to run Time Matters.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation does not include various services provided by Microsoft Small Business Server, such as MS Exchange for e-mail and Contact / Calendar synchronization to smartphones. But you can avoid the up-front cost and servicing cost of MS Exchange, if you need it, by subscribing to Hosted Exchange.

Keep in mind that Time Matters 11 will include Mobility at no extra charge, giving you access to information via Web browsers in mobile phones and smartphones. So you may not need MS Exchange, either server-based or hosted.

Bottom Line

Is the computer hosting your Time Matters database getting too old or too full? Are you running the Time Matters database on a desktop and are concerned about its reliability? Consider an inexpensive, quiet, but more reliable small server.

For more information on servers, see our guide, Conversion to Version 10, available from our store. Also see:  How to Buy a Server by PC Magazine.