Last time, we discussed whether your company is ready to upgrade from peer-to-peer file sharing to a dedicated file server. This week, we\u2019ll decide which type of server best fits your needs: a standard desktop PC, or what I call a BeefyPC (same PC tower case, but packs beefier RAM options, power supplies, fans, and disks).Last time, we discussed whether your company is ready to upgrade from peer-to-peer file sharing to a dedicated file server.\u00a0 This week, we\u2019ll decide which type of server best fits your needs: a standard desktop PC, or what I call a BeefyPC (same PC tower case, but packs beefier RAM options, power supplies, fans, and disks).Intel suggests a small businesses upgrade to what it calls a \u201cReal Server\u201d (my BeefyPC) for obvious reasons: It wants to boost processor sales. But in some cases, Intel is right. If you plan to buy Microsoft\u2019s Small Business Server 2000 or the upcoming 2003 version (due out in the fall), or Novell\u2019s NetWare Small Business Suite 6.0 or 6.5 (due in December), you\u2019ll likely need a BeefyPC server. NetWare servers, long content to wring high performance out of low memory amounts, now demand as much RAM (512M-bytes recommended) as Microsoft ones.\u00a0Minimum disk space for Microsoft\u2019s upcoming Small Business Server 2003 is 4G-bytes. Many Pentium IIs and IIIs machines working fine as servers today shipped with disk drives between 2G-bytes and 10G-bytes, so you might need more storage. You should probably bite the bullet and replace any Pentium II servers, because they won\u2019t carry the new operating system load.If you\u2019re still not sure whether to upgrade, breaking down the pros and cons might help:\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Reasons to upgrade:* More RAM - Older Pentium III motherboards often limited the amount of RAM supported. Adding more RAM is the single easiest and cost effective way to improve server performance (mostly by caching data in RAM rather than having to read it off the disk).\u00a0* Faster (and bigger) hard disk drives\u00a0- Over the past few years, hard disks have increased storage capacity and throughput while dropping in price. Standard IDE drives are down to a dollar a gigabyte.\u00a0* \u00a0Bigger power supply - Desktop PC power supplies often work hard to cover the power needs of a single hard disk and other PC hardware - especially with off-brand PCs that cut corners on power supplies.\u00a0 When you stress a power supply by adding a second hard disk, it might develop problems and fail, possibly ruining your hard disk drive(s) as well.*\u00a0More expansion room - When you add a second (or third) hard disk drive, you\u2019ll find plenty of room for it in your BeefyPC chassis. A regular PC might have two 3.5 inch drive bays, one for the floppy and one for the hard disk, but a server case will have four more 3.5 inch bays for hard disks.*\u00a0Faster data transfer between internal components - Motherboard buses carrying data between the CPU and RAM have tripled in speed the last few iterations.\u00a0Reasons to stay put:*\u00a0Cost\u00a0- If you can\u2019t afford it, keep in mind, the upgrade cost for single CPU servers from desktop to server has narrowed to just a few hundred dollars rather than thousands. If you must upgrade, try to go with a single-processor system if suits your network needs. Dual-processor systems often mean different motherboards and other internal components that boost the price considerably.*\u00a0Quick repairs aren't critical - If your business can do without a network server for a day to replace broken hardware, you can always replace a desktop PC in that amount of time.*\u00a0Light load levels - Light duty services, such as a small user population that shares files on the server, but doesn\u2019t execute applications there, work well on a desktop PC server. It\u2019s when you load the server with users and applications you need a BeefyPC.Still on the fence? Here are some examples of how your computing choices can influence your choice between a BeefyPC and desktop PC server. These are just guidelines, though.\u00a0* BeefyPC: You host your own public Web server and e-mail server, so reliability and uptime is critical.* Desktop PC server: You use a service provider to host your Web server and public e-mail.\u00a0\u00a0* BeefyPC: You use an application with a big centralized database, such as Microsoft\u2019s SQL Server, so you need horsepower to process transactions and reliability. Here, you might also consider a dual-processor model.\u00a0* Desktop PC server: You have no central database and stick with standard productivity applications like word processing and spreadsheets.\u00a0* BeefyPC: You route your Internet connections through your file server, so reliability and uptime are critical. Your server also handles virus protection and\/or firewall services.My advice? I suggest you take advantage of low memory chip prices and falling hard disk costs to get the best server you can get. Whichever way you go, get more RAM. Every server, desktop or BeefyPC, always needs more RAM.