Buying a used server is a great way to get a high-quality state-of-the-art server at an affordable price. You can save money and still get the very best in quality if you do your homework.
Things to consider when shopping for used servers:
Where to find used servers
- Age and amount of use of the used server - Try to purchase a used server that is only a few months old and has received little to moderate use. While you want to be frugal, you don't want to buy out-dated technology and worn-out hardware.
- Operating system - Do you plan to run Windows on your server? How about Linux or UNIX? A used Windows server will need more memory and CPU power than one running Linux or UNIX.
- Multi-Processor - If you will be placing heavy demands on your used server, you'll be better served with a model that has two or more CPUs to share the workload. Otherwise, you can opt for a less expensive single processor machine.
- Memory - More memory is always better, but when shopping for a used server keep in mind that memory is relative cheap right now and you can easily add more later.
- Hard drive(s) - Data storage space and hard disk access speed are two of the most important considerations when shopping for a used server.
Since a server is used to store and distribute data over a network, lots of storage capacity is imperative. And keep in mind that the data needs to be accessed and distributed as quickly as possible.
Look for a used server with the fastest hard disk(s) possible. For the best performance, look for a used server that is equipped with a bank of RAID hard disks.
- Video Adapter - Advanced video capabilities are largely irrelevant and should be only a minor consideration when you're shopping for a used server.
- Rack mount or stand alone - If your organization requires just one or two servers, then you should opt for stand-alone desktop used servers. If you need several servers, a rack-mount setup will save space and money.
Used servers can be found in many different places. Here are a few places to look:
- Public auctions - Companies go out of business all the time and their assets are sold at auction. Used servers are often sold for pennies on the dollar at these sales.
- Used hardware dealers - There are companies that buy used computer hardware, refurbish it, test it, then re-sell it at a discount. Some companies even offer a guarantee. If you want a used server that has been tested and cleaned (at a higher price), this is a great option.
- Ebay - You'll find a large selection of used servers there, but you won't be able to see or touch the item until the transaction has already been completed. You usually won't receive a guarantee, but a great price might make the risk worth it.
- Directly from the manufacturer - Dell, Gateway, and most other major PC manufacturers offer refurbished servers at reduced prices. These used servers have often received little or no use.
What usually happens with a refurbished server is the original purchaser has a problem with the item (or they simply don't like it). They return it, the manufacturer cleans it up, tests it, makes repairs (if needed), and then sells it to you at a discount, usually with the full warranty!
A used server can save your organization money while still providing all the power and capabilities that you need, but you need to be diligent in your selection process and check out all the options available in context with your needs.
Sources for used servers
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