In this article, we will look at what a server is in computer networks and server types.
Although any computer running special software can function as a server, the most common use of the word refers to very large, high-performance machines that function as pumps that push and retrieve data over the Internet.
As a rule, the larger the network – in terms of clients that connect to it or the amount of data it moves – the more likely it is that multiple servers play a role, each of which is dedicated to a specific purpose.
Strictly speaking, the server is the software that performs the task. The powerful hardware that supports this software is commonly called a server since server software that coordinates a network of hundreds or thousands of clients requires hardware that is much more powerful than what you would buy for ordinary consumer use.
Common types of servers
- A large, medium-sized general-purpose network is likely to have several different types of servers:
- Web servers for displaying pages and launching applications when connecting to web browsers.
- Email servers to facilitate sending and receiving messages.
- FTP servers to support file transfer using file transfer protocol tools.
- Identity servers to support security logins and roles for authorized users.
Types of network servers
Many Internet networks use a client-server network connection model that integrates Web sites and communications services.
An alternative peer-to-peer network allows all devices on a network to function as a server or client as needed. Affiliate networks offer more privacy because communication between computers is more targeted, but most peer-to-peer implementations are not stable enough to support very high traffic noise.
The word cluster is widely used in the computer network to refer to the deployment of shared computer resources. Typically, a cluster integrates the resources of two or more computing devices that might otherwise function separately (often, workstations or server devices) together for some common purpose.
Servers at home
Because servers are just software, people can only start servers at home, accessible only to devices attached to their home network. For example, some network hard drives use the Network Attached Storage protocol to allow different computers on the home network to access a shared set of files.