The pros and cons of using thin clients

The pros and cons of using thin clients

Unless your employee’s job involves graphic design, audio/video editing, database processing, or other tasks that require large amounts of processing power, then that employee won’t need a powerful standalone computer. Instead, that employee would be fine with sharing a computer with someone else.

Nowadays, computers are so powerful that one can support multiple users at once. Therefore, instead of providing your staff with typical PCs, you can let them use thin clients instead.

What are thin clients?

Compared to their much larger predecessors (i.e.the traditional PCs, which are also referred to as “thick” or “fat” clients), thin clients are significantly smaller. This is because they have only one processor, and they don’t have physical storage. Rather, thin clients can be aptly described as input/output (I/O) redirection units. That is, they take a user’s inputs, such as mouse clicks and keyboard strokes, and send these to a remote server. That server then processes the inputs and sends the consequent outputs to the corresponding client, which promptly conveys what it received onto the user’s monitor.

Thin clients normally have minimal operating systems (OSs) in addition to firmware (i.e., software that enables electronic hardware to function as designed). Beyond the OS and firmware, thin clients can’t have other software installed on them. Because these devices do very little processing, they are often also referred to as dumb terminals.

A subtype of thin clients called ultrathin or zero clients have no OSs and let remote servers process everything for them.

Why should your staff use thin clients over regular PCs?

By having your staff use thin clients instead of thick ones, your business can reap the following benefits:

  • Hardware savings – Because thin clients are so pared down, they’re much more affordable than computers that have plenty of bells and whistles.
  • Energy savings – Thanks to their minimized design, thin clients can do with just 1/50th of the electricity that fat ones consume. Therefore, having a fleet of thin clients would mean considerable energy savings and could even help your organization become carbon neutral.
  • Roomier and quieter workstations – Due to their bulk, traditional computers either cramp up leg space or take a significant chunk of your desk’s real estate. This is never a problem with thin clients. Furthermore, while we may have gotten used to the whirring sounds that PC fans make, the silence provided by thin clients allows staff to focus better on their tasks.
  • Simplified device management – Everything from device enrollment to security policy implementation to app delivery can all be done in the data center — nothing needs to be done at the endpoint side. This means that there’s no need to bother end users during their shift, and your IT team will have more time for non-maintenance tasks.
  • Improved data security – Since thin clients carry only the bare essentials when it comes to software, they have markedly less vulnerability to malware. Additionally, the problem of shadow IT is significantly reduced because users can’t install unvetted apps onto thin clients. Everything end users utilize must come from the centralized server, which IT admins keep a very close eye on. Users also can’t save or copy data onto the clients — it can only remain on the server. This means that you have a tighter, more secure grip on your data.

What are the drawbacks of using thin clients?

There are a few cons to using thin clients that you must consider, namely:

  • Limited processing power – IT admins designate only a portion of a remote server’s data processing resources to each user. A user who would require much more processing power would need a machine that could deliver what they need.
  • Reliance on network connection quality – Since practically all the processing is done by the server, that server’s connection to users’ devices must always be maintained.
  • Single point of performance drop or failure – Central servers with insufficient processing power will provide laggy performance to end users. And if a server fails, then this means downtime for your staff.

Much like any IT solution, the use of thin clients is not one-size-fits-all. You’ll need to ascertain if it's the option that best fulfills your business requirements — and you’ll need to implement it optimally, too. To do both, turn to Complete Technology. Let our IT experts help you leverage the latest and best tech so that your business can enjoy significant cost savings, employ greater efficiencies, and see sustained growth. Leave us a message or call 816-326-1143 today.


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