In computing, the term server is used in two ways. It can describe a computer program that provides a service to other programs running on the same computer or a different computer across a network. The programs requesting the services are referred to as clients. A specific example is a web server that serves requested web pages or files, and the user’s browser (the client) that requests them. The computer that hosts the server application is also frequently referred to as a server.
While the term is widely used in IT, servers are typically used to describe the hardware and software that hosts services to other computers (and their users). In a client-server architecture, the server fulfills requests from
client programs, which may be on the same or other computers.
The server may provide these computer services to other computer systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the Internet. And various computing services may be fulfilled by the server, resulting in different job-focused designations like database server, file server, mail server, print server or Web server.
Technically, although many devices are specifically branded as servers, the role of acting as a server is often fulfilled by machines not classified as severs. For example, server software can be run from a laptop, allowing it to host services for other PCs. For example, a small business or home network might use a simple PC as a file or print server.
While the term server is broadly used in IT, it typically describes a computer intended host applications, with the features and capability required to handle the heavy demands of a business network environment. Common server features include:
* A faster CPU than typical PCs;
* Increased high-performance RAM;
* High I/O throughput;
* Large storage capacity, often through multiple drives
* Improved fault tolerance;
* Redundant power supplies, storage and network connection.
Because the server is designed to function and be accessed remotely over the network, they often operate without a monitor—sometimes called “headless”—or other input device. Similarly, many lack graphical user interfaces (GUIs), audio or USB interfaces, to reduce unnecessary resource allocation.
Most large businesses use servers consisting of rack-mountable hardware designed to meet the requirements of their specific purpose. For example, Web servers have the processing and RAM required for the workload of running Web scripts in real-time, while file servers need the capability to support multiple drives and read-write data quickly.
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