Building a Budget Small Business Server

Networking Software and Products

So, you happen to be the most tech savvy person in the office, and your boss has given you the task of making sure that your computer network is safe, secure, reliable and backed up, but you have no idea where to start. There are plenty of options to choose from when creating your network, some of which are very expensive. You may not even know what you need to get started or what will work best for e-mail, backup, or management of the network. This guide will give you some recommendations for getting started.

This guide will be for a single server network. The server will handle backups, User Management, File Shares, and connectivity with Microsoft Office 365 for Email Services. Your requirements may be different, but this is intended for a new small business, or an existing small business that does not have a server or any centralized management. I will try to provide options to help cover a broad spectrum of requirements.


Server: HP Microserver Gen8

HP Micro Server

Amazon Order Link:

This will be the core of your network. Don’t let the size of this server fool you – It is a very capable server, especially for a small business. The product linked above has the following specifications:

Processor: Intel Xeon E3-1220L v2 Dual-Core 64-bit low-power processor – “2.30GHz” (2 physical cores, 4 logical cores)

Storage: 2 x 1 TB Seagate Desktop HDD Model: ST1000DM003
Memory: 1 x 4GB, 1600MHz, PC3-12800E-11, DDR3, dual-rank x8, 1.50V, unbuffered with ECC dual in-line memory module (UDIMM)


If you have a business that does not require a lot of storage, or you do anticipate backups taking too much space, this configuration may work for you. Keep in mind that while there are 2 x 1TB hard drives, you will only have about 800GB of usable space once the Operating System is installed, and the disks will be mirrored to prevent data loss in the event that one hard drive should fail.

Server Add-Ons: Memory and Disks


Amazon Order Link:

This is an addition 8GB of memory for the server above, giving you a total of 12GB of memory. There are only two RAM slots in this unit, so you will be full at this point, but if you want to be sure you have more than enough memory (and the added cost really isn’t that high..) you could purchase two of these memory modules and max the unit out from the start, which I would recommend to avoid the hassle and downtime down the road.


Amazon Order Link:

The server comes with 2 x 1TB Hard drives, but as I explained above, this could fill up rather rapidly. Fortunately, the server has the ability to house 4 drives, each with a maximum capacity of 4TB. To make the best use of the space, It would be recommended to purchase two of these Western Digital 4TB NAS Drives to use for backups and storage. We can configure the drives in their own mirror, so you will have about 4TB of usable space, while having the piece of mind that if one drive fails, you will not lose any data.

Server Operating System: Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you will notice that I am a big fan of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. This is Microsoft’s latest offering for small businesses that provides a (almost) full server experience at a price point that is affordable for small business owners.


Amazon Order Link:

Features of WS2012R2 Essentials:

This is truly the easiest configuration with the most features, at the best price. Review the link above for information regarding PC Backup, Email integration, User Management, Remote Access and more from Microsoft’s website. If you need help configuring Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, you can refer to some of our articles here.

Price Breakdown and Total

Server: $731.07
Additional Memory
: $149.98
Additional Storage: $318.00
Server Operating System: $386.99

TOTAL: $1586.04

For about $1,500 you can have a fully functional, reliable business system, with warranty and no hand built using consumer grade components and a legal, feature packed Windows Installation to help you connect remotely, share files, back up your computers, and manage the network.

Now, this isn’t a complete and total solution. You will still want to purchase a proper Business Class Router/Firewall, A good network switch, Anti-virus software for your computers, and wireless (if you should choose). However, this is a good start to getting your network started.

Check out our other articles for setting up Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, and if you have any questions, would like to see more articles like this, or have any feedback, comment below.

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