What are file servers?

A specific type of storage server, a file server is a computer that contains all the files available on a local area network (LAN). This means whoever has access to the file server, also has access to the files — a multi-user system. File servers can come in different forms, for example some LANs have microcomputers acting as their file server.

What can you store on a file server?

A file server can store a number of different files. From photos and videos, to documents and EXEs, file servers are the best multi-user platform to hold this data. This wide range of files can then be accessed by everyone on the LAN.

Why are file servers useful?

Many businesses find file servers extremely useful. Having a central location in which to keep a large amount of files is great for staff. It’s also great for clients too. Why is this? Well, as file servers are more equipped to transfer high capacity files, this means sharing them with clients is super simple.

Not only does a file server make life easier when it comes to storing and sharing files within their company, but it’s also a great way to secure files, and lots of people can contribute to the adding of data to the file server, this way it serves as a collaborative effort within a business.

Why file servers need security

If your business decides to opt for a file server, it is really important to install protective software. Due to the large number of collective files on the computer, it’s a common target for attacks. We also recommend backing up your files regularly as well, just in case the server fails or some other disaster strikes. When creating backups, you’re going to want several different lots of files stored in various locations. It’s always good to have this in place.

How do file servers work?

File servers usually store their data either as a file or as binary data, and because of this, no extra processing or indexing is needed. Once you have access to your file server, it’s up to you to open and interact with your files — your computer won’t do it for you. It’s then pretty simple and anyone who is on your LAN can also view these files.

How do multiple users access a file server?

As the main function of a file server is to be accessed by multiple users at the same time, features need to be in place to ensure that this runs smoothly. Within a file server there’s a few features that can control user access:

Conflict resolution: Sometimes, files can be overwritten, if this does happen — this feature is here to help, which maintains the integrity of a file server’s data.

File locking: Pretty self explanatory, but this feature prevents multiple users editing all at once. It does so by allowing a user to lock the file until their edits have been made.

Permission management: This allows only chosen users to access certain files, it also changes the settings of which users can edit or delete various files.

Distributed file system: This feature allows files to be copied to multiple locations, to multiple servers.

The advantages of using file servers

If you do choose a file server, what sort of benefits can you expect?

Low cost: Compared to other types of file storage, a file server will come in at a relatively low cost. This is ideal if you’re working to a budget but still want the most bang for your buck.

Customisable: Personalising a file server is easy and you can tailor it to the needs of your business and staff.

High capacity and performance: If you require a fast performing server that can hold a large capacity of data, then you’re in luck. A file server can adapt to fit your needs and requirements, including upping their capacity and performance levels.

The disadvantages of using file servers

As with most servers, there are some downsides. Let’s run through a few of them:

Planning is needed: In order to receive the file server of your dreams, you need to know how much storage capacity you’ll need. Not everyone will be able to give a definitive answer to this, so it can lead to problems down the line when users run out of space.

Constant administration: Although a file server is a great place to store your data, that’s all it’ll do. These servers have very limited features so you’ll be required to do a lot of the leg work yourself.

Security issues: Storing such a large amount of sensitive data in one place can often be a recipe for disaster. Yes, you can make backups and install security software, but with so many users accessing the same server it’s tricky to keep protection levels to the max.

What's the difference between a file server and database server?

A database server manages many other databases, while a file server is responsible for files accessible through a LAN. So, a database server and a file server are not the same thing.

File server vs Cloud server

An increasingly popular way of storing data is via a Cloud server. But how do these fare next to a file server? Well, a file server is physical, while a Cloud server is virtual. This means that a file server is more vulnerable in its physical form than a Cloud server. Although they are both vulnerable to attacks, Cloud servers offer regular back ups and more options of protective software to ensure the worst never happens. Scalability wise, it’s hard to increase or decrease resources on a file server, however with a Cloud server it’s simple and will help to lower overall costs.

So, now that you know more about file servers than you did before, why not give them a go? If it doesn’t sound like a good option for you, we have a number of different server options available. From cloud servers to virtual private servers, you can have your pick.