Regardless of what kind of small business you run, if you are even remotely successful, then you are eventually going to need a server to host your software and website. With everything these days connected to the Internet, it is practically impossible to run a business without the right information technology infrastructure.

HP small business servers are some of the best around, given their effectiveness and reliability when compared to their affordability. If you think this is what you are going to go with, then keep reading to learn 5 criteria to apply to your search to make sure you get the best HP small business servers possible for your growing company.

1) Server uptime: Whether you decide to buy your own server to operate internally, rent space on a shared server, or contract for a dedicated server, you should expect your website and internal operations to be up and running every minute of every day. While no server has 100-percent uptime 24/7/365, many servers have uptime percentages north of 99 percent.

When possible, set up an arrangement that has a backup server that kicks in when the first goes down, and also have a tech support program where specialists will be on the case promptly, night or day, when something needs investigated and fixed immediately. The Internet never sleeps, so when your server goes down, you are practically out of business until it comes back up.

2) Are you okay with refurbs? Many HP small business servers start their working lives as rentals or leases out to offices and corporations, only to be returned to the manufacturer or seller at the end of the contract. These leasing arrangements are typically far less in duration of time than the expected life cycle of the servers themselves, which means there is a strong market for refurbished servers.

They come at far lower price points than brand new servers, and yet you can still expect many years of quality service from them. Their processing power and hardware specs might not be top of the line due to age, but before they are offered as refurbs, they are updated, upgraded, and inspected thoroughly to make sure that they will live up to included warranty guarantees. Refurbished servers are a great way to get maximum bang for your buck while sparing a landfill a machine full of chemicals you don’t want leaching into the ground.

3) How long is the warranty if you buy one? If you do choose to buy your own small business server rather than rent space on someone else’s, then you need to have it covered through a rigorous warranty that involves a 24/7 support package. Bigger businesses and major corporations might be able to do their own protection packages in-house using their own personnel, but if you run a small business, you do not have the level of resources to have around the clock technical support from your own staff. Always make sure the warranty is three to five years. Many servers on the market are only covered for a year, but you want multiple years so that you know you do not have to buy another server for at least that length of time.

4) Does its specs fit your current needs? This can be a tough one. It is not actually that hard to figure out if any particular server will stand up to your current online demands and traffic needs, but the decision you must make is if it is going to be enough on its own. Hopefully, your business is growing, which means if you get a small business server that fits your current needs, it will not be adequate by itself for long. You need to decide in advance whether or not to go up a grade or two to have growing room or if you are just going to add an additional server later as the circumstances dictate.

5) Is it really an HP small business server? HP does make servers dedicated specifically for small business needs, but that does not mean that every listing you see for an HP small business server is actually one of those machines. Third-party vendors sometimes reclassify other HP servers as fitting for small businesses, and they might work out fine, but they might also not be what HP specifically or originally intended.

Also, you have to be on the lookout for refurbished machines that might have been upgraded with non-HP parts. It is not really a matter of violating the original warranty, as any refurbs you look at should have their own warranty, but non-native components might not mesh as well with the original holdovers, and can result in hardware that is not as effective or efficient as you might want.

Your small business server can be the very heart and brain of your company. Whether it is processing online orders, loading web pages from your site for Internet users, routing emails, storing files in your database, or even handling your VoIP in the office, you need a machine that is robust, reliable, and affordable. These are all things that HP small business servers are renown for. Whether you rent one, go for a hosting package on one, or flat out buy one of your own, use these 5 criteria to choose wisely for the sake of your business.