A fileserver is the “main brain” in a network — the central PC that stores all files, runs all networked applications and routes all communication between users and shared peripheral devices such as printers. Until recently, networking has meant investing in a mix of hardware, software and services, sometimes stretching the budgets of small practices. The multiple roles of a network fileserver system have barely changed since the earliest days of PC networking. They allow shared access to documents, legal billing, practice management systems, calendars, e-mail, peripherals such as printers, centralized data backup and Internet access.

Traditional network ingredients include a PC dedicated to network file server functions; a network operating system that manages shared access and centralized activities; and a network systems engineer to configure the NOS (beyond the skills of most do-it-yourselfers).

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