What are Computer Servers?

If you are familiar at all with computers, you have probably heard the term “server” before.  No, not the ones at restaurants.  These are computers that are made to run certain software, usually known (quite fittingly) as “server software.”

There are a few different types of them, and they can perform slightly different functions.  If you’re looking to understand more about what they are, what they do, and how they work, keep reading!  Hopefully, this article will help explain what seems complicated at first glance but really isn’t once you understand.

The Different Types

The first we will discuss today are web servers.  Most of them are open source, in this category.  They allow us to access the internet via public domain software.  We have them to thank every time we open our browser and search for something.  You can read further on them here: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/types-of-servers.

Next, there are virtual machines.  These are a bit more complex.  It is essentially running a second computer within your first.  You do need some of the physical hardware (an initial desktop and a monitor, of course), but you can run several virtual machines at once when you use the right programs.

Another type is called a proxy server.  This type is usually used to provide additional security while a person is browsing the web.  Essentially, they are a bridge between the host server and a client server.  This means that your data is never sent directly to the host, but instead to the proxy.

File servers are used to give multiple people access to files at once.  A lot of companies and organizations use them for file sharing since it speeds the process up immensely.  Adding things to the “cloud” instead of needing to email them directly is far more convenient and quicker to boot.

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There are also databases.  These are pretty much what they sound like on the tin: they are a large storage space and can usually be accessed by multiple people at the same time.  Retrieving data is far easier using one.  The main perk of this type of server is that they don’t need to run any sort of database architecture to function.

Finally, there are gaming servers.  This is how I first heard of this technology – a lot of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games utilize them to host their large player bases.  That’s a brief overview of the types out there.

Virtual vs. Physical

Within these categories, there are two variations: physical and virtual.  When you are looking to get a server, you should consider which will be the better option for you.  Each has its own perks and drawbacks to learn about.

Physical ones look like normal computers, most of the time.  They are not visually distinct in many cases, but their utility is of course quite different.  They are usually used by businesses that are performing large-scale transactions.  They can store a lot of data.

With their internal hardware, they can run applications and operating systems.  With the physical models, and operating system needs to be installed.  Because of this, each of them can usually only be used for one business.  You cannot host multiple virtual tenants on one of them.

However, with that drawback, I should mention the main benefit.  This is that they are more powerful than the other variety.  Those who are using the physical ones won’t have any problems like bottlenecking.  They also provide constant control and access to the actual computing resources.

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On the other hand, virtual ones emulate the environment of the former.  You can read further on this process here: https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/server.  They are run via a hypervisor.

These servers allow for more delegation in a business.  The workloads can be distributed more easily because you can host many tenants on a virtual server.  Overall, they can also be easier to manage.

However, there are always some negatives.  If there are technical issues you might experience some work bottlenecking, which is not ideal.  Despite this, they are becoming more and more popular in the information technology world.

What’s Best for You?

Well – I can’t entirely answer this for you.  It will depend largely on your own preferences as far as how you want to run your business.  If you have ample space and don’t serve a lot of customers at once, you could choose physical ones.  Like I said, they do have a higher performance overall.

However, if you are doing something fast-paced and are hosting multiple tenants at one time, a virtual one might be a better choice for you.  Research your options and carefully consider them, since the storage of data is a pretty big decision in a business.  Whatever you choose, I wish you the best of luck – hopefully you find the right option for you!

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