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Small Server Bonanza

If you're a small business looking for a reliable server, or a big business seeking a little server for an outlying office, have we got some boxes for you.

Per our request, we received midtower machines; the largest was the white-box unit from Lantech. All were light and easy to move.

In evaluating systems for this review, we considered many factors. We wanted these machines to be viable for at least three years. Small businesses don't have the capital for a replacement cycle any shorter than that,and frankly, we expect users to keep them until the machines drop dead. Little businesses don't grow into big businesses without being thrifty with hardware.

Other key factors that define "real" servers are reliability, compatibility, manageability and serviceability. Until recently, big-name vendors have found it impossible to cover all these bases and maintain a low price. The white box largely filled that bill.

However, a variety of problems plague white-box servers. The biggest headache is caused by software vendors, which are understandably loath to admit there might be bugs in their products. So when you run into a problem and call the software company, it will ask what kind of server you have. When you say, "I don't know, it doesn't have a tag," or "Frog Station PC Systems," it will breathe a sigh of relief and blame your hardware. Call your white-box maker, and you'll be told that there's nothing wrong with your hardware and that you should call the software vendor.

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