The Definition and Purpose of a Computer Server

Servers Are The Heart and Lungs of the Internet Servers Are The Heart and Lungs of the Internet The internet wouldnt exist without servers A server is a computer designed to process requests and deliver data to another computer over the internet or a local network. The word server is understood by most to mean aweb serverwhere … Continue reading “The Definition and Purpose of a Computer Server”

Servers Are The Heart and Lungs of the Internet

Servers Are The Heart and Lungs of the Internet

The internet wouldnt exist without servers

A server is a computer designed to process requests and deliver data to another computer over the internet or a local network.

The word server is understood by most to mean aweb serverwhere web pages can be accessed over the internet through a client like a web browser. However, there are several kinds of servers and even local ones like file servers that store data within anintranetnetwork.

Although any computer running special software can function as a server, the most typical use of the word references the very large, high-powered machines that function as the pumps pushing and pulling data from the internet.

Mostcomputer networkssupport one or more servers that handle specialized tasks. As a rule, the larger the network – in terms of clients that connect to it or the amount of data that it moves – the more likely it is that several servers play a role, each dedicated to a specific purpose.

Strictly speaking, the server is thesoftwarethat handles a certain task. However, the powerfulhardwarethat supports this software is also usually called a server because server software coordinating a network of hundreds or thousands of clients requires hardware much more robust than what youd buy for ordinary consumer use.

While some are dedicated servers where the server operates one function only, some implementations might use one server for multiple purposes.

A large, general-purpose network supporting a medium-sized company will likely deploy several different types of servers:

Web servers show pages and run apps through web browsers.

The server your browser is connected to right now is a web server thats delivering this page, any images you might see, etc. The client program, in this case, is most likely a browser like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc.

Web servers are used for all sorts of things in addition to delivering simple text and images, like for uploading and backing up files online through acloud storage serviceoronline backup services.

Email servers facilitate the sending and receiving of email messages.

If you have anemail clienton your computer, the software is connecting to anIMAPorPOPemail server to download your messages to your computer, and anSMTPserver to send messages back through the email server.

FTP servers support the moving of files throughFile Transfer Protocoltools.

FTP servers are accessible remotely viaFTP client programs.

Identity servers support logins and security roles for authorized users.

Hundreds of different types of specialized server types support computer networks. Apart from the common corporate types, home users often interface with online game servers, chat servers, audio streaming services, etc.

Many networks on the internet employ aclient-servernetworking model integrating websites and communication services.

An alternative model calledpeer-to-peer networkingallows all devices on a network to function as either a server or client on an as-needed basis.

Peer networks offer a greater degree of privacy because communication between computers is more targeted, but most implementations of peer-to-peer networking arent robust enough to support very large traffic spikes.

The word cluster is used broadly in computer networking to refer to implementations of shared computing resources. Typically, a cluster integrates the resources of two or more computing devices that could otherwise function separately for some common purpose (often a workstation or server devices).

A web server farm is a collection of networked web servers, each with access to content on the same site that functions as a cluster, conceptually.

However, purists debate the technical classification of a server farm as a cluster, depending on the details of the hardware and software configuration.

Because servers are just software, people can run servers at home, accessible only to devices attached to their home network. For example, some network-aware hard drives use theNetwork Attached Storageserver protocol to allow different PCs on the home network to access a shared set of files.

The popular Plexmedia serverhelps users consume digital media on TVs and entertainment devices regardless of whether the media files are on thecloudor on a local PC.

Since uptime is of utmost importance for most servers, they are normally never shut down but instead run 24/7.

However, servers sometimes go down intentionally for scheduled maintenance, which is why some websites and services notify their users of scheduled downtime or scheduled maintenance. Servers might also go down unintentionally during something like aDDoS attack.

Clients and servers are the basic building blocks of computer networks

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