Your Guide to Buying Servers on eBay

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Your Guide to Buying Servers on eBay

Servers fill a role as host for various types of services. For the most part, this involves business-related tasks, but servers also fill the role of hosting email, games, databases, and more. When hosting a network, whether for games, work-related tasks, or a multitude of other roles, network operators must make sure that the servers used provide enough power to host the activities. Servers must allow for upgrading in case additional employees are hired or more space is needed. For those who want to save money, a wide selection of used and refurbished servers exist to fulfil their needs, as well.

When buying a server, shoppers can choose from a wide range of products. They should base their buying decisions on the specific needs they have. This includes how many people access the server at any given time, how fast the server needs to run, and the power of the server, in terms of memory the user requires to meet the demands placed upon it. Shoppers looking for a wide selection of servers need look no further than eBay.

Types of Servers

When buying a server, businesses or individual buyers must first determine the types of servers they want to purchase. The following table provides more information on the different server types, including storage capacity and lightweight or heavyweight models.

Server Types

Description

Storage Server

Holds backup copies of business data

Located at a remote site, separate from the business

Sometimes referred to as cloud computing

Lightweight Server

For handling and storing email

Requires little hardware to support it

Processing speed and memory mainly dependent on server load

Heavyweight Server

Best for game servers or other online software

Can handle many people working together on the same project in real time

A variety of specific server types exist, depending on the needs of the business. Each server, while similar in operation, usually requires a different set of software, depending on the function, to properly perform its duties.

Parts of a Server

While servers break down into the above-listed server types, shoppers should keep other factors in mind when buying a server, as well. The different components that make up a server, including the motherboard, processor, memory, hard drive, and other components, are also very important.

Motherboard

The motherboard ties together all the other components in a server. The board contains the transistors, capacitors, and a number of slots to hold the memory stick, as well as the graphics card, processor, and other items that aid a server in its day-to-day functions. If shoppers have to buy a replacement motherboard, they should make sure to purchase the correct form factor.

Processor

Shoppers have a wide selection of processors to choose from when buying servers. The processor determines how fast a server can perform the tasks asked of it, as well as how many of those tasks it can perform at one time. Multi-core processors allow servers to perform many more tasks than a single-core processor alone. Most often, motherboards on servers contain more than one processor per board. This allows them to perform a multitude of functions, and users tend to favour multiple processors as opposed to one fast processor. Servers tend to have a fast front side bus to communicate with the memory to compensate for this.

Memory (RAM)

Memory, or RAM, provides one of the single most important components of a server. Servers require memory, and plenty of it, or it can slow down the connection speed of its users as they all try to access the memory at once. This typically equates to a few hundred GB of RAM.

Hard Drive

Hard drives contain the actual mnemonic capacity of a server for long-term storage of information. A variety of hard drive configurations exist, from a basic Raid Array, which allows memory storage to each drive, to flash drives, which tend to run faster than standard hard drives, even though they use a reduced memory capacity. Some hard drives even offer a combination of standard hard drive and flash drive.

Network Card

The type of network card used depends in large part on the number of users expected to utilise a server at any given time. For example, a specialised server that retrieves and stores data at a fast rate needs a high-quality network card, whereas one that only delivers mail to the appropriate recipient can make do with a less powerful card.

Other Components

Various slots exist within the server computer, such as PCI slots. A lot of the additional components depend on the needs of the network. A fast network usually requires the fastest slots and data buses, while a standard server more than likely does not need them at all. When buying memory, try to make a good prediction of how much growth to expect in the future. This way network managers do not need to worry about upgrading their server capabilities too soon as the company grows to accommodate the server size.

Server Operating Systems

Without a proper operating system, or OS, a server becomes little more than an expensive paperweight. The operating system is the connection between the software and the hardware, and it makes everything work together as a cohesive whole. The section below details some of the different server OS options, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Types of Operating Systems

Description

Linux

Unix-like operating system

Offered as a free and open sourced software

Leading OS on servers

Used on embedded systems

FreeBSD

Free Unix-like OS descended from AT&T UNIX via BSD UNIX

Most widely used BSD-derived OS

Free and open source

Windows

Deployed on a minority of servers

Software used to run servers called Windows Server

Current version does not support Itanium

Mac OS X

Unix-based OS sold by Apple Inc.

Runs exclusively on Mac-based computers

Versions named after big cats

The requirements for a server differ from those for a desktop computer. Most often a server operates separately from the function of a desktop, although recently that distinction has blurred.

Server Considerations

Shoppers should keep in mind certain considerations when deciding on which servers they want to purchase. Besides the obvious 'needs' considerations, they must also think about the types of computers the network typically uses, the scalability of any servers, and any necessary backup servers that a company might use, among other considerations.

Environment

This factor refers to the types of computers that network managers expect to connect to a server. Apple computers need to use a Mac OS, while a server that operates with Microsoft computers needs a Windows OS. This also includes Linux servers, as well as mixed-OS environments.

Scalability

Network managers need to keep the expansion of their business networks in mind when purchasing servers. Thinking about whether or not the business expects to increase the number of employees any time soon is a good question to ask before purchasing a particular server. While managers do not want to go overboard and overbuy capacity, they do want to keep the company's potential growth in mind.

Backup

Office and network managers should consider any backup servers that they want to buy. They should align backup servers so that when the main servers go down, the backups kick in and keep downtime to a minimum. Some businesses even operate with backups for the backups, as redundant systems can keep a business running in almost any crisis.

Space

Before purchasing a server, office managers need to consider where to place them. This includes an out of the way corner, closet, or, as may be the case for bigger businesses, a room especially designed for the operation of servers. This includes good ventilation and separate temperature control to keep servers cool and dust free.

New, Used, or Refurbished Servers

When buying servers for a network, shoppers have a few options available to them. This includes new, used, and refurbished servers. New servers include those which come brand new from the manufacturer, typically in the original packaging. Used servers, on the other hand, have seen some use. This does not mean that they are of a lesser quality when compared to new, as many have the same functionality of their newer counterparts, just at a reduced price.

Refurbished servers provide another option for shoppers, holding the middle ground between the amount of time used and price. For the most part, manufacturers replace damaged and worn components on a refurbished server to give it a quality that is like new, but with a lower price tag.

Buying Servers on eBay

Shopping on eBay provides you with a quick and easy shopping experience. The eBay marketplace offers shoppers a host of computer equipment, including servers and other components. To begin searching for products on eBay, enter keywords into the search box on any eBay page. Use terms like 'Intel server' or 'rackmount server', for example, to begin your search. Make sure the terms match your product needs so only the best results pop up. After looking over the list of results, narrow the choices down by clicking on the category and filter options to display the listings that match the closest criteria for your needs. Other helpful aids on eBay include the Search Tips page and eBay Shops.

Before making any purchases, remember to read through applicable product listings and take notice of important criteria, such as cost, item quality, sizes, colour, and any other pertinent terms of sale. Ask the seller questions by clicking the Ask a Question link on the listing page, and do not forget to check the seller’s feedback rating to make sure you are satisfied with their past sales performance as rated by other shoppers.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether shoppers are buying servers to upgrade current networks or purchasing servers for the first time, they first need to consider the exact purpose of the servers. Simple mail servers and print servers require less powerful computers, while game and database servers need a more robust system, complete with faster processors and high-quality network cards. The OS of the computers that managers expect to use on the servers has to be considered before buying servers, as well.

Another consideration involves understanding a server and its various components and how they all work together. Shoppers should keep their required processor speeds in mind when perusing items, as well as the quality of the network cards that they need. A final thought involves making sure that they have the required space to store the server once it is purchased. When looking for servers for business purposes, shoppers can find a wide selection of new, used, and refurbished servers on eBay to meet their needs.

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