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A server is a computer, a device or a program that is dedicated to managing network resources. They are called that because they “serve” another computer, device, or program called “client” to which they provide functionality.
There are a number of categories of servers, including print servers, file servers, network servers and database servers. In theory, whenever computers share resources with client machines they are considered servers.
However, servers are often referred to as dedicated because they carry out hardly any other tasks apart from their server tasks.
The purpose of a server is to manage network resources such as hosting websites, transmitting data, sending or receiving emails, controlling accesses, etc.
The server is connected to a switch or router used by all the other network computers can use to access the server’s features and services (browsing websites, checking emails, communicating with other users, etc.).
Some of the most common types of server include:
They allow other computers to access a database and retrieve or upload data from and into it.
They provide users with access to files and data stored centrally.
They deliver requested web pages to multiple client web browsers.
They are a sort of “virtual post office” that store and sort emails before they are sent to users upon request.
They are servers that provide an environment with all the necessary requirements to run or develop an application.
Other types of server include:
Nearly all personal computers are capable of serving as network servers. However, usually software/hardware system dedicated computers have features and configurations optimized just for this task.
For example, dedicated servers may have high-performance RAM, a faster processor and several high-capacity hard drives. In addition, dedicated servers may be connected to redundant power supplies, several networks and other servers.
Such connection features and configurations are necessary as many client machines and client programs may depend on them to function efficiently, correctly and reliably.
For example, servers must be able to stay always on to deliver their services, and they’re set up with a certain degree of fault tolerance to reduce the risk of causing service issues.
In order to operate in the unique network environment where many computers and hardware/software systems are dependent on just one or several server computers, a server often has special characteristics and capabilities, including:
The ability to update hardware and software without a restart or reboot.
Advanced backup capability for frequent backup of critical data.
Advanced networking performance.
Automatic (invisible to the user) data transfer between devices.
High security for resources, data and memory protection.
Server computers often have special operating systems not usually found on personal computers. Some operating systems are available in both server and desktop versions and use similar interfaces.
However, an increase in the reliability of both server hardware and operating systems has blurred the distinctions between desktop and server operating systems.