A server is a computer used to manage network resources. This can be a dedicated device, meaning that it only carries out the server tasks, or it can be a computer which also has other functions. There are a number of different server categories, such as file servers, database servers and web servers. ‘Network server’ is an umbrella term used to collectively describe all of the types of servers concerned in this post.
In most cases, specialised hardware and software is used to run a server, though nearly all personal computers are capable of acting as a network server. Server devices typically have a much larger RAM, high capacity hard drives and faster processing power. Even if a personal computer has the same specifications as a particular server machine, it does not mean they can run a network server equally well. Servers are built from the start to carry out particular tasks efficiently, but standard personal computers are not.
There are a number of different types of servers, all with different specialist functions:
- File Server – Used to store the data files of the network’s users.
- Print Server – Manages the connection of printers to the network and processes the printing of documents to these printers.
- Database Server – Controls all shared databases across the network, processing data storage, management and data requests.
- Communications Server – Handles communications across the server, including e-mail, remote access, fax, firewalls and internet connections.
- Domain Name Server (DNS) – Maintains web navigation by translating domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
- Application Server – Provides the platform to run network-enabled software without having to install the software on each individual machine.
There are also servers custom built for specific hosting functions, such as website hosting or hosting multiplayer gaming connections. Proxy servers may also be used in a network. These systems take the request given from a client and evaluates it to simplify and restrict its complexity so it is easier for the server to process. Most proxy servers today are web proxies, used to access content on the internet and provide anonymity.
The client-server model shown below is a simplified explanation of the relationship between the user and the server. The client (user’s device) requests a piece of data from the server and the server responds. This model is in essence the same for any server type, but the complexity of the network is likely to introduce more stages between the client and server.
Servers can be on a business’ own premises and run by an internal team, or hosted off-site. There are a number of different options depending on the needs of the business. On-site servers are usually used by large companies with their own IT department who can maintain the servers with specialised knowledge. However, smaller businesses are more likely to benefit from off-site or cloud hosting solutions.
SeaBro IT can provide servers to cater for the requirements of any business. We proactively maintain and update servers to ensure the maximum security and functionality is in place, all while maintaining a downtime total less than many large hosts. Our friendly team will work with your team to ensure your business operations are constantly improved by server use, whether on your own premises or hosting on our servers. Get in touch to find out how we can support your business’ IT services, no matter the size.