Requirements of a server’s operating system and application software differ from those of a desktop computer. A server is better able to share data from multiple people securely and reduces bottlenecks. Additionally, a server may also provide secure application sharing as well as email, internet connectivity, data backup functionality, and shared printer and fax services — features that can significantly increase a small business' productivity.

For most small to medium business, Dell recommends preinstalled Windows Server® 2008 R2 family of operating systems for your server. Windows Server operating systems can be preinstalled at the factory before the server is shipped to your office, which is not only less expensive than purchasing at retail but also alleviates the hassle of installing the software yourself. In addition, preinstalled OS software has been fully tested by Dell engineers before it leaves the factory and is included in Dell’s support agreements.

With Windows Server software, your server can provide the following benefits:
Centralized Authentication
Servers can house a central user directory that contains the user names and passwords of all the employees in the company. All the desktop systems on the network are connected to the server, which enables users to log in to any desktop on the network with their user name and password. Their files and settings will appear as if they were sitting at their own computer. This functionality is crucial for security and provides the foundation for many other facets of network computing.
Woman Creating Technical Schematic via a Touch Screen Interface
File Sharing
The central user directory can also be used to allow or deny access to certain files. A normal small business server will have file shares available that contain users' personal files as well as shared files that other users can access when necessary.

In-House Email and Implementing Mobile Email
With software such as Small Business Server 2012, your server can be configured to bring all of your email in-house, making users' email access faster and keeping sensitive information within the company's doors. In addition, by moving your company's email to a local server, you can enable email access to your mobile devices, such as a Windows cell phone or BlackBerry®.

Centralized Applications
With Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-on, additional business applications such as an inventory or customer resource management applications can be run from your server and used by your employees while keeping the data safe on the server's redundant storage.

Data Backup
One of the most important services a server provides is backing up your business-critical data. In the event of a catastrophic failure, fire or flood, that data can mean the difference between keeping the doors open or closing them for good. Backup software running on the server makes copies of the server's operating system and files to the tape or other external storage device. Once completed, these backups can be stored off-site in a secure location.
Data Backup
Build an Intranet and Extranet
Server software allows you share information over the internet or through intranets and extranets. You can showcase and sell your products and services over the internet, provide authenticated access to partners to share secured data and create a company intranet site for your employees.

As your server network and infrastructure grow, you may find that some of your servers are running a single application. It may be using only 60–70 percent of its processing capacity. You can take control of this underutilized server capacity by creating virtual machines on a single server through a specialized software system known as "virtualization." So, once you start investing, you can continue to get more out of your investment without adding more infrastructure.