About Start Software

Start Software is an award-winning developer and leading publisher of asbestos software, systems for the legal services industry and more.

Want to know more about asbestos software Alpha Tracker? Alpha Tracker is the most used asbestos software in the UK, Australia & New Zealand with more than 60m items of asbestos data stored.

Our legal services software Alpha Legal helps will writers, accountants, solicitors, IFAs and estate agents to communicate securely with clients. Read about developments here on the blog.

Or need help with Alpha Anywhere or Alpha Transform projects or software development? You'll find useful info here.

Decisions, decisions, decisions! What sort of server should you use for Alpha Tracker?

One of Alpha Tracker's strengths is that we can be flexible about where it is hosted.  We consider it to be your system and your data - so it is vital that you have a say about where the system is run.

We try to provide options for all sizes of organisation from shared server space for the smallest asbestos consultancies through to complex on-premise installations for the UK's largest business (literally - they use Alpha Tracker!) and all sizes in between.

Choosing where to host a server can be tricky! 

We are often asked for our recommendation, so here goes - here are the essential choices:

Are you wanting to prioritise security/reliability or price or performanceThat's the critical factor.

Security/reliability?  Choose the cloud.  Amazon AWS is the world’s biggest cloud infrastructure provider.  We run Alpha Tracker on virtual cloud servers which protect against physical server failures and provide the benefit of “instant” backups and restores in the unlikely event of a problem.  Costs are often the highest of the three options discussed here.  Performance can vary because the virtual server is sharing physical hardware with other virtual servers.

Price?  Choose a rented physical server because you'll get more "bang for your buck" compared to a virtual server of the same cost.  We use two server partners in the UK - Fasthosts & UKFast.  Alpha Tracker is installed onto a specific physical server in a datacentre.  Performance is good because the server is dedicated to your Alpha Tracker and nothing else.  Security, reliability and speed of backups/restores is not quite as good as a cloud server.  For example, a physical server can fail at any time and a datacentre may become disconnected from the Internet if there is a major physical event (fire, for example).  If your budget is really tight, you could even use a shared server (a server which is running other Alpha Tracker systems, too).

Performance?  Choose a rented physical server at a datacentre close to the majority of the system users.  So, for example, a London based one or a Perth (Aus)-based datacentre or one in Auckland (NZ).  UK prices tend to be pretty keen so a server based in Australia or New Zealand may be more expensive but will give better performance to users if they are based in those countries.  Security, reliability and speed of backups/restores is not as good as the cloud servers.  For example, a physical server can fail at any time and a data centre may become disconnected from the Internet if they suffer a major physical event (fire, for example).

In all of the options, above, you can choose to pay for the server direct or we can procure the server on your behalf and recharge the cost plus a small admin fee to you.  You may want to pay direct to keep your charges to a minimum and so that you could use the server for other purposes (eg data backups from another company server).

You can also buy a server and ask us to install Alpha Tracker onto it - this is called an "on-premise" installation but (at the time of writing in November 2021) this is becoming quite unusual.

Still confused?  Get in touch (UK or Aus/NZ) - we can talk you through all of the options to help you to make the best choice.


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