5 Critical Questions When Considering a Server Upgrade

Executive Briefing By Bill MacLennan

CEO at Your Computer Hero

February at Your Computer Hero, was a month filled with server upgrades. It has caused me to reflect on the value of keeping and maintaining a local server versus migrating to cloud based exchange services. As with most things IT related, there is no one size fits all solution. These are expensive upgrades, so it is important to carefully weigh each of the following factors when deciding to upgrade the local server or migrate to exchange hosting: number of users, staff turnover, up front cost, internal staff to manage ongoing changes, existing network assets, control.

How many computer users does the company have?

The first thing to consider when deciding whether to upgrade that local server or migrate to exchange hosting is the number of users you have. With exchange hosting, you pay per user per month. The general rule of thumb is this: if you’ve got twenty-five or more users, it’s more cost effective to have your own server.

Having said this, there are larger companies who use exchange hosting because the factors mentioned below.

How often does staff turn over?

Hosted exchange is more expensive and more of a headache if you are adding and

subtracting users all the time. If there is somebody on staff who can manage these transitions, it helps.

Is the large upfront cost of a local server upgrade feasible, given the long-term savings?

Let’s consider that company with 25 users. For exchange hosting, this company will pay about $250 per month, that’s $9,000 over three years. By contrast, the server will cost about $6,000-$8,000 up front and last about seven years. Over the seven year period the company saves $12,000.

But, be prepared, the server option will require more up-front admin time for installation and working out the bugs. Microsoft does not convert perfectly…not ever. This is the way Microsoft has always been, so there are always a million little fixes that can become a headache for a few weeks after any server upgrade.

What other network assets are already in place?

We did a recent upgrade where the company has a server dedicated to encrypting certain files as they go in and out. This system works seamlessly for the user and was a considerable investment for the company. Moving to exchange hosting would require that they scrap this server, pay monthly for the encryption service and end up with an inferior user experience. Not worth it! So, we went with the local server upgrade.

It is also worth mentioning that, with exchange hosting, some companies will need a local server for accounting software and as a file server. So, this can make a big difference in the solution that fits best.


It is important to note that migrating to hosted exchange will give you less control than maintaining a local server. All things considered, some business owners are willing to live with this. But, it’s a deal breaker for others.

Server upgrades are expensive and complex. Our expert technicians can help you weigh the options and come up with a solution custom tailored to your business needs. Call our shop today if you are thinking about a server upgrade or migration to exchange hosting.