What is a Server?

What is a Server?

A server plays a pivotal function within computing systems, whether it be a powerful computer or dedicated software managing network operations. As the central nexus for services such as website hosting, email handling, and data warehousing, a server efficiently responds to client requests and allocates network resources.  

Fundamentally, this linchpin technology ensures coherent interconnection and resource availability across networks through seamless communication. When pondering the question “what is a server?”, envision it as the crucial component guaranteeing smooth distribution and accessibility of data in diverse digital applications. Read further to know more about it. 

What is a Server? 

Answering the question, what is a server? can be done right when viewed from a technical vantage point. It can be referred to as a host, a specialized computing system designed to fulfil requests and provide services to other computers, known as clients, within a network. The server’s primary function is to manage and distribute resources, such as data, applications, or processing power, efficiently. This involves responding to requests initiated by client devices, ranging from simple file retrievals to complex database transactions. 

The server meaning extends to hosting, where it stores and serves website content to users upon request. It operates on client-server architecture, establishing a connection to deliver requested information. In essence, a server functions as a centralized authority, ensuring the seamless flow of data, managing network traffic, and executing various tasks according to predefined protocols. Its role in facilitating communication and resource sharing is fundamental to the interconnected landscape of modern computing, making servers indispensable for numerous applications across diverse industries. 

How servers work? 

 Now, you might have an idea about what is a server. So now, learn about how a server works. Depending on how the word server is being used, a server’s operation can vary greatly. A computer that runs server software is among the things that constitute a physical server. 

A virtualized version of a real server is called a virtual server. Similar to a real server, a virtual server has its own apps and operating system. Any additional virtual servers that might be operating on the real server are kept apart from these.  

Installing a lightweight software component known as a hypervisor on a physical server is the first step in the process of creating virtual machines. Making the physical server capable of serving as a virtualization host is the responsibility of the hypervisor.  

The virtualization host allows one or more virtual machines to access the actual server’s hardware resources, including memory, CPU time, storage, and network bandwidth.
An administration console provides the ability to assign unique hardware resources to every virtual server.  

The fact that several virtual servers can run on a single physical server instead of each task requiring its own physical server helps drastically reduce hardware expenses. So, this is how server worksin reality. 

What are the types of servers? 

Now you might have got the answer for how server works. Next, here are the types of servers you should know: 

1. Application Server 

Applications, regardless of their nature or purpose, can operate inside the structure and environment provided by the application server. Web-based apps can be created and executed by an application server.  

There are numerous varieties of application servers, such as those for the Java programming language, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), and .NET Framework. By using a more centralized method for program updates and upgrades, application servers facilitate data and code integrity.  

Through the centralized management of the authentication and data access control, they provide security. By restricting network traffic, performance can be improved for applications with high demand.  

2. Catalog Server 

Catalog Servers keep a table of contents or index of data that is accessible over a sizable distributed network. Users, computers, files exchanged on file servers, and online applications can be found on distributed networks. Directory servers and name servers are a couple of examples of catalogue servers. Computer programs that require network search functions can be considered Catalog server clients. 

3. Database Server 

Client computers can access databases through database servers. An SQL query, for example, can be used by users to access, change, store, and retrieve data from a database. Database servers handle database management systems (DBMS) security and recovery.  

They keep non-database, digital, and application files. Many businesses use a database server for storage. By using a query language unique to the database, users can retrieve the data by performing a query.  

4. Computing Server 

Any computer program that requires more CPU power and RAM than a personal computer can afford to use these types of servers, which share vast amounts of computing resources over a network, including CPU and random-access memory. To implement the client–server model, a client computer must be networked.  

5. Fax Server 

Sending and receiving fax messages from a computer connected to a Local Area Network (LAN) is made possible by a fax server, which is installed in LAN servers. These servers share one or more fax machines over a network, eliminating the difficulties of physical access.  

6. File Server 

File servers handle the central storage of data that is available over a network to various customers. Businesses use file management to give different work groups access to the same file. By enabling automatic file versioning and a centralized backup of all company data, file servers guard against issues caused by different local file versions.  

Transmission methods, including Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), File Transfer Protocol over SSL (FTPS), and Secure Copy (SCP), are used if the file server is accessed over the internet. The protocols SMB (Server Message Block) and NFS (Network File System) are used in Local Area Networks (LANs).  

7. Game Server 

Gaming servers connect the global online gaming community. They are compatible with multiplayer games. These servers also synchronize player action in the virtual environment and maintain player and game data. Well-known game server providers offer rented game servers for titles. 

8. Mail Server 

Mail servers make email management and storage easier. For sending and receiving emails, it uses many protocols. Your email provider will give you your mail server address and other details. These details usually appear in your email provider’s documentation or on their support page.  

For instance, a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is used while sending an email. Emails are stored and received by the server using the Post Office Protocol (POP3). Mail servers function similarly to a regular post office, storing and organizing mail before forwarding it to its intended recipient.  

9. Print Server 

Network clients are connected to printing equipment through print servers. They take in print tasks from users and queue them up in case printers can’t handle the volume of requests in a given amount of time. Several protocols, including JetDirect, Line Printer Daemon, and Internet Printing Protocol, are used by these servers to complete printing tasks.  

10. Proxy Server 

A proxy server bridges the gap between regional and global networks. Receiving requests from one network and relaying them using its own IP address acts as a communication link between participating networks. These servers store frequently requested web pages in a cache, which facilitates quicker page loads in the future. The network’s bandwidth decreases significantly as a consequence. 

Proxy servers are also essential for network load balancing because they filter network traffic and are always up. As a proxy replaces the client’s original IP address, these servers also maintain their anonymity. 

11. Web Server 

Web servers are made to run websites and applications through web browsers or client programs. They are in charge of handling user delivery, processing, and storage of web material.  

They facilitate information flow between network devices by supporting protocols, including SMTP, FTP, and HTTP. To more effectively control user access to hosted files, web server software is installed on every machine in a network that hosts websites.  

ALSO READ: Everything You Need To Know About Web Servers & Types Of Web Servers 

How do you choose the right server? 

While learning about what is a server, it is important to know about choosing the right server. Virtual machine and container consolidation are two of the many important factors to take into account when choosing a server.  

The first step in building an IT architecture is determining which processes will be handled by the server. The objectives and technology used by the company can be used to determine the infrastructure requirements. Crucial factors to take into account are budget, security, performance, scalability, and flexibility. Create a plan that outlines your short and long-term objectives.  

As cyber risks are growing and hackers are becoming more creative in their methods of stealing data, you need to ensure that your servers have a high level of safety and data protection. Safeguarding information through cloud-based security tools like Sitelock is important, particularly when it comes to sensitive financial information. 

Regarding memory, more memory is better in terms of retention. It will cost high initially, but it is preferable to having to shut down your network to install and upgrade your server’s memory when you could have completed it during the first deployment. To minimize the difficulty of bringing down your network, utilize the memory on your server fully. 

If your servers are physically hosted on your property, you are responsible for keeping an eye on them and fixing any components that are damaged. Consideration should also be given to cooling, electricity, and storage. There may be an unexpected shutdown if regular maintenance is ignored or put off. Another popular option for many companies is cloud-based servers, which require very little maintenance from inside staff. 

Key components of a server 

When understanding server meaningand its components, it is important to recognise that servers are complicated systems made of many software and hardware components. So, it becomes important to understand the key components of the server to manage and maintain this vital infrastructure. Here are the key elements that constitute a server:  

1. RAM 

Working data and machine code are kept in RAM or short-term memory. RAM allows processors to read and write data more quickly. Getting data out of RAM takes far less time than getting it off in hard drives, as servers are processing multiple instructions at once.  

Also, a computer program that is executed by the CPU usually stays in the main memory (RAM). Ultimately, the server computer’s execution speed can be impacted by the memory’s performance.  

2. Processor  

A server’s primary component is its processor, sometimes referred to as its CPU. It is the server system’s central nervous system. Modern, high-tech server computers come with multicore, powerful processors that can handle hundreds of commands at once.  

3. Storage  

Servers use storage components to hold different files required for the operation of machine code. This covers data from websites, applications, databases, operating system files, libraries, and other sources. Data is stored on servers using solid-state drives (SSDs) and conventional hard disks.  

The requirements and needs decide which storage element is best. Compared to file archive servers, which do not necessarily need to be quick, database servers should be able to read and write data more quickly. The fact that a single storage device can have a detrimental effect on server performance must also be taken into account.  

4. Bandwidth 

Through the internet or a combination of networks like WAN and LAN, servers handle user requests and provide content. Servers with more bandwidth will inevitably be able to handle more customers and respond to inquiries faster. 

5.  Network interface card (NIC) 

The NIC connects the server to the network, facilitating communication with clients and other devices. For load balancing and redundancy, servers may have multiple NICs. 

6.  Motherboard 

 The motherboard is the main circuit board that links and combines several hardware parts, such as the RAM, CPU, and storage units.  

7. Operating system (OS) 

The OS is the program that controls hardware resources and offers services to users and apps. Linux distributions, Windows Server, and Unix versions are popular server operating systems. 

8. RAID controllers 

To improve the reliability of data and provide redundancy, a redundant array of independent disk (RAID) controllers is used to manage several hard drives. Data loss from failed drives can be prevented with RAID arrangements. 

9. Backup and restoration methods 

For data protection, hardware and software backup solutions are important. These parts help in the creation of data copies and guarantee that data can be recovered in case of hardware malfunctions or loss.  

10. Server management software 

Administrators can monitor and manage server resources, set up preferences, and carry out remote administration operations with the help of server management software.  

11. Battery backup 

When there is an electrical loss, UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies) temporarily supply electricity to servers, allowing them to shut down smoothly or function until backup generators or power sources take over. 

12. Tools for reporting and monitoring 

Software for tracking servers keeps tabs on the usage of resources, performance, security issues, and possible threats. These solutions offer data in real time and produce reports for proactive management.  

13.  Expansion slots and ports 

Servers often come with expansion slots and a variety of connectors to connect extra hardware, like network cards, storage controllers, and graphics cards.  

Examples of the servers 

Servers are flexible computer devices with a wide range of uses in a variety of sectors and applications. Understanding server uses helps facilitate the understanding of their varied functions within modern technological settings. Here are a few common kinds of servers used in different industries: 

  • E-commerce website server 
  • Online gaming server 
  • Financial trading server 
  • Hospital information system server 
  • Email hosting server 
  • Cloud computing servers 
  • DNS server 
  • VoIP server 
  • Video streaming serve 
  • Online collaboration server 

Why Are Servers Always On? 

While learning about what is a server, you might have thought about why the servers are always on. It is because servers are mostly used in services that require constant functioning, which necessitates that the servers are never turned off. Unfortunately, if a server fails due to unintended consequences, then it may lead to network issues, which can create many problems. So, to avoid any escalation of issues, the servers are always on.  

Where Are Servers Stored? 

In most cases, the servers are stored in data centres. These data centres are physical locations that will have a lot of hardware equipment like computing machines and more. Your business data will be stored in data centres that will have the necessary IT infrastructure like servers, data storage devices, and network equipment.   


In conclusion, servers sit at the core of our digital lives, orchestrating connections and coordinating computing resources. Whether routing traffic between devices on a local network or handling requests for crowded global websites, servers toil to work on the web holding information and powering modern connectivity. Only by understanding the server meaning of—what servers do and how they do it—can we grasp their role as the unseen infrastructure enabling the interactions and access upon which the internet age depends. 




Web hosting specialist with a knack for creativity and a passion for baking, serving up tech solutions with a side of sweetness.