A small but growing business would find itself in need of a server computer to address its networking and hosting needs in the most efficient and secure way possible. Industry giant Microsoft offers its Windows Server to answer this necessity.

Windows Server works by fulfilling the requests of other programs such as HTML pages or files through a local or remote network. These specific functions delivered by Windows Server include:

  • Returning a list of local disk drives on a server
  • Listing all visible servers of a particular type or types in a specified domain
  • Returning configuration information about a specified server
  • Setting the operating parameters for a server

Only a user defined with administration functions can serve these administrative tasks to control Microsoft Server’s operation, user access, and resource sharing. Although local workstations can also be used, majority of management functions can only be done on a remote server.

The pros of the Windows Server

Investing your dollars, time, and effort in a new a Windows Server promises the following benefits:

  • Security – Security of files and the network is one if not the most important issue addressed by the Windows Server. Investing in a reliable server allows the business to define users, restrict access, and assign roles to ensure only the right persons are allowed to view and manipulate company data.
  • Reliability – Having a dedicated Windows Server increases the reliability of a network in ways a regular peer-to-peer sharing relationship cannot. For one, the Windows Server would keep the network running even in case of hardware malfunction in a user’s computer.
  • Centralized data storage – Data storage is secure in multiple hard drives. This centralized storage allows multiple users to access the centralized databases for a more efficient process.
  • Virus Management – With the Windows Server, it is easier to monitor and regularly update anti-virus programs in all computers to ensure the protection of the network.
  • User friendly and ease of use – For users of the Microsoft Windows operating systems, moving forward to a Windows Server would be an easier and more familiar road. If your website already relies on the .Net framework, Microsoft Front Page, .ASP and Access database, then the Windows Server is the right choice.
  • Application development – If you intend to develop Microsoft based applications, then logically, a Windows Server from the same family will make this possible.

The corresponding cons

Pros always come mirrored with a string of cons, and Windows Server is no exception. Although the Windows Server is backed by the trusted reputation of Microsoft, it still suffers from the following drawbacks:

  • Speed and rebooting – Windows Server is observed to run slower than its alternative and requires more frequent rebooting, which then translates to site downtime.
  • More system resources – Related to the speed and performance lapses of the Windows Server, it also requires more system resources such as more disk space, higher RAM, and increased bandwidth. All these ultimately lead to more expenses for the business.
  • Stability – Although using Windows Server hosting is more stable than peer-to-peer or home group sharing, its platform still suffers from downtime and server problems every so often.
  • Compatibility – A Windows Server would want to work with its family of products, namely only the compatible Microsoft development tools and applications. This limits the user’s application options, such as not being allowed to use UNIX developed CGI or PERL applications. Telnet or SSH, which are also UNIX developed, can also note be used with a Windows Server.
  • Costs – Windows Server costs money, and comparably costs more than the UNIX alternative. Also as mentioned, it runs only on compatible Microsoft applications which likewise do not come for free. This leaves the business owner with having to spend for the initial cost of the hosting package, and for subsequent costs of the applications needed to run it.

As with any decision, the final say on getting a Windows Server hosting package rests on whether the weight of the pros outweigh the cons. For users and businesses already equipped and happy with Microsoft tools, then a Windows Server would be the next logical extension. Otherwise, it might be best to explore other options.