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Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.[/caption]If you are like most small businesses, you acquire desktop computers, phone systems, and software in a random, “buy-it-when-you-need-it” fashion as your business operations demand it.But at some point, this patchwork of stopgap technology you’ve acquired needs to be examined, retooled, and perhaps replaced, depending on your company’s needs.As your business grows, it makes sense to take a broader view of your technology investments. One of the first things you might consider is the role a server would play in your company.Servers can take on a lot of tasks for a growing business, from securing data to enabling better sharing of company resources. But it’s sometimes difficult to know when, and if they’re a smart investment.There are a few common scenarios in which a server can bring real benefits to a growing business - read on and see if any of these apply to you.You need to share files, printers or other resourcesIt is technically possible to set up a simple network without a dedicated server, with just a few PCs connected together.However, if you want to share databases, files, printers or other resources, a server makes it a lot easier.In fact, servers are specifically designed for sharing, so you’ll get better control, faster access, easier management and improved security. And who wouldn’t want all that?Your computers are overloaded and you need more storageIf you have a lot of files or multiple databases, it might be time to consider migrating some of these files to a server.Whether you want to replace your old computers or just improve their performance, a server will give sluggish, data-laden PCs a welcome respite by freeing up memory and storage.You want to have inhouse company emailWhile businesses with only a few employees can get by with using an external service for its email, there comes a time when these services aren’t ideal.Adding a server allows you to bring your e-mail in-house, with the dual benefits of making users’ e-mail access faster and keeping sensitive business information within the company - not on another company’s servers. Plus, you can benefit from shared email productivity tools like Microsoft Outlook.You want to conduct business remotelyIf you have employees that work remotely, or if you’d like the option to work from home, a server will allow you and your employees to remotely access your company network, information and resources.These are only a sampling of the signs that a server could be right for you. The bottom line is this: if you spend a lot of time moving data around, struggling to access things you need, and are worried about security, then it’s time to consider a server.