All You Need To Know About Servers

If you’ve ever used the internet to access a website, send emails or to read your emails, then you’ve made use of one or more servers.

Servers are very important in the running of the internet!

Although we don’t work with them (servers) directly, we always communicate with them behind the scenes using requests each time we use the internet.

So what are these mysterious but ubiquitous devices ?

A server is simply a computer that provides data to other computers. It may serve data to systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the internet.

So simply, a server is any computer that provides or serves other computers in a network with data. In fact, a regular desktop computer can be turned into a server by adding the appropriate software.

For example, a computer connected to a home network can be designated as a file server, print server, or both.

While servers can run on different types of computers, it is important that the hardware is sufficient to support the demands of the server.

For instance, a web server that runs lots of web scripts in real-time should have a fast processor and enough RAM to handle the “load” without slowing down.

A file server should have one or more fast hard drives or SSDs that can read and write data quickly. Regardless of the type of server, a fast network connection is critical, since all data flows through that connection.

Types of Server

Many types of servers exist, including web servers, mail servers, and file servers. Each type runs software specific to the purpose of the server. For example, a Web server may run Apache HTTP Server or Microsoft IIS, which both provide access to websites over the Internet.

A mail server may run a program like Exim or iMail, which provides SMTP services for sending and receiving email. A file server might use Samba or the operating system’s built-in file sharing services to share files over a network

Web Servers

A web server is a computer that runs websites. It’s a computer program that distributes web pages as they are requisitioned.

The basic objective of the web server is to store, process and deliver web pages to the users.

This intercommunication is done using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). These web pages are mostly static content that includes HTML documents, images, style sheets etc.

Apart from HTTP, a web server also supports SMTP (Simple Mail transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) protocol for emailing and for file transfer and storage.

Mail Servers

A mail server (or email server) is a computer system that sends and receives email. In many cases, web servers and mail servers are combined in a single machine.

However, large ISPs and public email services (such as Gmail and Hotmail) may use dedicated hardware for sending and receiving email.

File Servers

A file server is a central server in a computer network that provides file systems or at least parts of a file system to connected clients.

File servers therefore offer users a central storage place for files on internal data media, which is accessible to all authorized clients.

Components of a server

  • Motherboard
  • Processors
  • Memory
  • Hard Drives
  • Network Connections
  • Graphics Cards
  • Power Supply

How does a server work?

Every time you use the internet you are accessing a server. When you enter a URL into a browser your computer communicates with the server hosting that website and pulls the data onto your machine.

This is a simplistic view of how the process works

  • You enter a URL and your web browser requests a web page
  • The web browser requests a full URL for the site it wants to display
  • This information is sent to the server
  • The web server finds and builds all the data needed to display the site (this is why some sites load quicker than others)
  • Your web browser receives the data and displays the website to you

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