LeoGlossary: Server (Computer)

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A computer server is a device or program that provides services or resources to other computers over a network. It can be thought of as a provider of information or functionality that other computers can access and use.

There are many different types of computer servers, including:

  1. Web servers: These servers host websites and serve web pages to visitors. They can also host other types of content, such as images, videos, and audio files.
  2. File servers: These servers provide shared access to files and folders, allowing multiple users to access and edit the same files.
  3. Print servers: These servers manage print jobs, directing them to the appropriate printers and handling any necessary formatting or processing.
  4. Database servers: These servers store and manage large amounts of data, allowing other computers to access and interact with the data.
  5. Game servers: These servers host online games, managing the state and allowing players to interact with each other.
  6. Mail servers: These servers manage email, allowing users to send and receive messages.
  7. Application servers: These servers host software applications, allowing users to access and use the applications over the network.
  8. Proxy servers: These servers act as intermediaries between clients and the Internet, filtering or modifying network traffic as needed.
  9. Load balancing servers: These servers distribute workloads across multiple servers, improving performance and reliability.
  10. Network attached storage (NAS) servers: These servers provide shared storage for a network, allowing multiple users to access and share files.

Computer servers can be implemented using a variety of technologies, including dedicated hardware, virtual machines, or software running on standard computer hardware. They can be run on a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Unix.

A server is a powerful computer designed to serve resources and handle requests from other computers, known as clients, over a network. Think of it as the central hub of a computer system, providing data, applications, and services to the various devices connected to it.

What Servers Do

Serving resources:

  • Storage: Servers can store large amounts of data, like files, databases, and email, making them accessible to other computers on the network.
  • Applications: Servers can run software applications like web servers, email servers, and game servers, allowing clients to access and use them remotely.
  • Processing power: Servers have powerful processors and large amounts of memory, enabling them to handle complex calculations and tasks for multiple clients simultaneously.

Handling requests:

  • Clients send requests to the server for specific resources or services.
  • The server processes these requests, retrieves the data or performs the required task, and sends the response back to the client.
  • This back-and-forth communication allows clients to utilize the server's capabilities without needing the processing power or storage space themselves.

Types of servers:

  • Web servers: Host websites and make them accessible through the internet.
  • File servers: Store files and share them with authorized users on the network.
  • Mail servers: Handle email sending and receiving for a domain.
  • Database servers: Store and manage databases for various applications.
  • Game servers: Run online games and facilitate interactions between players.

Benefits of using servers:

  • Centralized management: Easier to manage resources, security, and updates from one central location.
  • Improved performance: Servers can handle heavy workloads efficiently, providing faster response times and smoother operation for clients.
  • Scalability: Systems can be easily expanded by adding more servers to accommodate growing needs.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Sharing resources among multiple clients can be more cost-efficient than providing each client with its own hardware.

In summary, computer servers are the backbone of our digital world, powering everything from websites and online games to email and cloud storage. Their ability to store, process, and share resources makes them essential for a connected and efficient computing environment.


The history of computer servers is a fascinating journey of evolution, mirroring the advancements in computing technology itself.

Early Beginnings (1940s-1960s):

  • 1940s: The concept of centralized computing emerges with the development of early mainframe computers like ENIAC and UNIVAC. These massive machines served as centralized processing units for multiple users, acting as the first true servers.
  • 1950s-1960s: Mainframes become more powerful and smaller, but remain expensive and accessible only to large organizations. The concept of "time-sharing" allows multiple users to share the processing power of a single mainframe.

Rise of Minicomputers and Network (1970s-1980s):

  • 1970s: The rise of minicomputers, smaller and more affordable than mainframes, makes centralized computing accessible to smaller businesses and institutions. Minicomputers often served as file servers and shared resources for local networks.
  • 1980s: The development of personal computers (PCs) and the TCP/IP communication protocol pave the way for local area networks (LANs). Servers dedicated to file sharing, email, and early web hosting emerge.

The Internet and Server Boom (1990s-Present):

  • 1990s: The widespread adoption of the internet creates a global demand for server infrastructure. Dedicated web servers hosting websites and online services become crucial. The first commercial data centers, housing rows of servers, are established.
  • 2000s-Present: The rise of cloud computing, where server resources are rented on demand over the internet, revolutionizes the industry. Virtualization technology allows multiple servers to operate on a single physical machine, maximizing efficiency.
  • 2010s-Present: The explosion of mobile devices and big data further fuels the demand for server power. Advancements in server hardware and software lead to increased performance, energy efficiency, and security.

Key Milestones:

  • Development of mainframes: Pioneering centralized computing and multi-user access.
  • Rise of minicomputers and LANs: Making centralized computing more accessible and distributed.
  • Birth of the internet: Driving the demand for web servers and global data centers.
  • Cloud computing: Transforming server access and resource management.
  • Virtualization: Optimizing server utilization and flexibility.

The Future of Servers:

The future of computer servers is likely to be shaped by:

  • Continued miniaturization and increased density: Powerful servers in smaller packages.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Enhancing server intelligence for automated tasks and security.
  • Green computing: Developing more energy-efficient and sustainable server solutions.
  • Edge computing: Processing data closer to the source for faster response times.

The history of computer servers is a testament to the human desire to connect, share, and process information. As technology continues to evolve, servers will undoubtedly play a vital role in shaping the future of our digital world.


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