A thin client is a network computer that doesn’t contain a hard drive and therefore relies on a connected server to retrieve data and run programs. Thin clients are basically low cost, stripped back PCs that are devoid of all unnecessary features, expansion cards/slots and attached peripherals. Thin clients rely on the server to handle most of their data processing and are optimised for server based or cloud computing.
Thin clients offer a number of benefits to companies over traditional PCs. They can often work out cheaper to buy because there are fewer components to pay for and the parts that are included in a thin client are often less powerful and less expensive than those found in a full fledged PC. Fewer components means thin clients are more economical to run since they consume less power than traditional PCs. They are also easier to manage since software installations, patch updates and file storage are all done centrally via the server and deployed via the network. This also makes thin clients more secure and less vulnerable to viruses and malware since individual users cannot install their own programs or store files.
Before choosing a thin client, consider the following key questions. How will your IT needs change in the next few years? While this can be difficult to predict, technology advances rapidly so it’s important to try and choose a device that has sufficient longevity, especially since thin clients typically have a longer shelf life than conventional PCs.
Thin clients come with a variety of processor, memory and graphic card options. While the bulk of the processing will be handled by the server, you might want to run some apps locally so consider the resources that will be required based on the programs you need to run. For certain applications (e.g. graphics programs such as Photoshop) the thin client also has to handle part of the work. You should ensure your chosen thin client has enough power to render the graphics and cope with high refresh rates if required. If you need to connect multiple monitors to your thin clients, make sure you pick one that has a graphics card fitted that supports 2 or 3 monitors as not all thin clients do.
Do you need Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity? While historically thin clients were connected to a network via a wired ethernet cable, workers are increasingly working remotely and may need wireless connectivity. Some thin clients come with Wifi and Bluetooth as standard and for other models, there’s an add-on to support it.
Finally, consider the support cover on offer by the manufacturer as the duration and type of cover does vary. Three year cover is common with some thin clients covered by a collect and return service which is more convenient and offers peace of mind.