Traditionally, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) equip their staff with personal computers (PCs) for work. But in recent years, some organizations have been provisioning thin clients instead. Should your company switch to thin clients, too?
In this blog post, we'll discuss what a thin client is and its pros and cons so you can determine whether it's the right IT investment for your business.
What is a thin client?
In comparison to PCs, which are also referred to as "thick" or "fat" clients, thin clients are significantly smaller. That's because they are stripped-down computers with the bare minimum hardware, which means they don't have the same processing power and memory as a standard PC. Instead, they rely on remote servers to compensate for the resources they lack and function like a normal computer.
Thin clients send a user’s inputs (i.e., mouse clicks and keyboard strokes) to a remote server. That server then processes the inputs and sends the consequent outputs to the corresponding client, which quickly conveys what it received onto the user’s monitor.
Thin clients typically have only firmware (i.e., software that allows electronic hardware to operate as designed) and minimal operating systems (OSs). Aside from the firmware and OS, other software can't be installed on thin clients. Since these machines do barely any processing, they are also called dumb terminals.
A subtype of thin clients, zero clients, do not have any OSs and completely depend on remote servers to do the processing for them.
What are the advantages of using thin clients?
There are several reasons why you may want to switch to thin clients, including:
- Reduced energy consumption – Thin clients use less power than PCs since they don't have a hard drive or other storage devices that require electricity to function.
- Improved security – Since thin clients don't have storage devices, tall data is processed on a remote server. This makes the data easier to protect against external threats, such as viruses and other malware.
- Increased flexibility – Thin clients can be easily scaled up or down to meet your business's changing needs. For example, if you need to add more users, you can simply provision additional thin clients without having to worry about increasing your server capacity.
- Lower total cost of ownership – Overall, thin clients are cheaper to maintain than PCs. That's because they have a longer life span and require less IT support. Additionally, all data created or edited on thin clients are stored directly on a server, so you won't have to worry about performing backups.
What are the disadvantages of using thin clients?
Thin clients are not suitable for some use cases because of the following drawbacks:
- Less processing power – Since thin clients rely on a remote server for processing power, they may not be able to handle resource-intensive tasks as well as PCs can.
- Potential security risks – Although thin clients offer improved security in many ways, there is still a potential for security risks if the server is not properly configured.
- Increased latency – Since thin clients need to send input to a remote server and then receive output from that server, processing delays may occur, which can be frustrating for users.
Should your company switch to thin clients?
For many SMBs, thin clients can effectively replace most — if not all — of their PCs. However, the use of thin clients ultimately depends on your company's specific needs and budget. If your employees' tasks do not involve graphic design, audio/video editing, or other tasks that require large amounts of processing power, then thin clients may be enough for their needs.
To enjoy all the benefits that come with using thin clients, you need to ensure that these machines are always running optimally. SpectrumWise can help you do this and also help you leverage other IT solutions that drive business growth. Schedule a consultation with us today.