iCast: What Is A Computer Server?
- November 8, 2012
- Posted by: Craig Chamberlin
- Category: Uncategorized
You may have heard the word “Server” thrown around regularly by IT geeks and your cousin who is awesome with computers. Servers are really not much different than your run of the mill computers and this video explains the difference between the two.
A server is essentially a computer with software designed to perform a specific “serving” function to other computers. This function can be thousands of different types of serving such as websites, video, music or any other form of data.
The function of a computer server is best illustrated with an analogy. When you are at a restaurant, you have a server and a customer. In the world of computers the server is still called a server, but a customer is called a “client”.
The client issues a request to the server, such as “I would like to see the website Google.com please.” This request to the server is sent through their web browser. The server receives the request and is able to return the page Google.com because it has software installed on it to handle those requests.
Just as a server at a restaurant, the server is only designed to handle specific requests. It wouldn’t do you much good to ask your server for a steak if they only serve pasta. The same goes for computer servers, if they receive a request they are not designed to handle, they respectfully let you know it’s not possible.
A server, in this sense, is just another computer with software installed on it to handle specific requests. Now IT and engineers learned that if they dedicate a computer to a single serving task that it will perform that task much more efficiently. So they began to build hardware and software combinations for specific functions.
A server that is designed and engineered to perform only a few tasks is known as a “dedicated server”. These servers are dedicated to a single task and do that task extremely well.
Many people do not realize they can turn their home computer into a server very easily. They simply need to install software on it to handle specific requests. Once the software is installed, they can then issue requests to their own computer and their own computer will respond properly.
Self-serving servers, or “localhost” servers, are servers that are also clients. These are extremely popular for web designers who want to test their webpage while they are designing it. If their computer is also a server, they can have their own computer serve them the webpage for troubleshooting.