A server in computing is:

  • A computer software application that carries out some task on behalf of users. This is usually divided into file serving, allowing users to store and access files on a common computer; and application serving, where the software runs a computer program to carry out some task for the users. This is the original meaning of the term.

  • The term is now also used to mean the actual computer on which the software runs. Originally server software would be located on a mainframe computer or minicomputer. These have largely been replaced by computers built using a more robust version of the microprocessor technology that is used in personal computers, and the server term was adopted to describe such microprocessor based machines.

Table of contents
1 Usage
2 Server hardware
3 Server operating systems
4 Historical note
5 See also
6 External links


Sometimes this dual usage can lead to confusion, for example in the case of a web server. This term could refer to a machine dedicated to websites, and it used in this sense by companies offering commercial hosting facilities. Alternatively, web server could refer to software such as the Apache HTTP server, which runs on such a machine and manages the delivery of web page components in response to requests from browser clients.

Server hardware

A Server computer shares its resources, such as peripherals and file storage with the users' computers, called clients, on a network. It is possible for a computer to be a client and a server simultaneously, by connecting to itself in the same way a separate computer would.

Many new devices now come with server capabilities. The X-Internet, Web Services, and Microsoft's .NET initiative all work to make even the smallest system a server.

Many large enterprises employ numerous servers to support their needs. A collection of servers in one location is often referred to as a server farm.

Server operating systems

The rise of the microprocessor based server was facilitated by the development of several versions of Unix to run on the Intel microprocessor architecture, including Solaris, Linux and FreeBSD. The Microsoft Windows series of operating systems also now includes server versions that support multitasking and other features required for servers, beginning with Windows NT.

Historical note

Mainframes and minicomputers were originally accessed using dumb terminals, which were unable to carry out any significant processing. This largely ended with the widespread use of personal computers by users.

See also

External links