Fat Client

What Does Fat Client Mean?

A fat client is a networked computer with many locally-stored programs or resources and little dependence on network resources, such as auxiliary drives, CD-RW/DVD players or software applications. Typically, users prefer fat client computers over thin clients because fat clients allow easy customization and greater control over installed programs and system configuration.


Because output is locally generated, a fat client also enables a more sophisticated graphical user interface (GUI) and reduced server load.

A fat client is also known as a thick client.

Techopedia Explains Fat Client

A fat client is often built with expensive hardware with many moving parts and should not be placed in a hostile environment. Otherwise, the fat client may not function optimally.

An example of a fat client is a computer that handles the majority of a complex drawing’s editing with sophisticated, locally stored software. The system designer determines editing or viewing access to this software.

A fat client has several advantages, including the following:

  • Fewer server requirements because it does most of the application processing
  • More offline work because a server connection is often not required
  • Multimedia-rich application processing, such as video gaming facilitation, because there are no increased server bandwidth requirements
  • Runs more applications because many fat clients require that an operating system reside on a local computer
  • Easy network connection at no extra cost because many users have fast local PCs
  • Higher server capacity because each fat client handles more processing, allowing the server to serve more clients

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.