Understanding the Basics of a Server: A Host Computer

Welcome Dev, in today’s digital era, where everything is becoming technology-driven, the term ‘server’ is becoming more commonplace. You must have heard the word ‘server’ somewhere, maybe at your workplace, computer class, or while surfing the internet, but do you know what it exactly means? Let’s start by defining what a server is, and its primary function in the IT world.

Defining a Server and Host Computer

A server is a computer system, software, or device that performs specialized functionality to manage network resources. In simpler terms, a server is a computer that provides data or services to other computers or devices over a network or the internet. The term ‘host computer’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘server’ and refers to the computer that provides these services.

A server may be used for storage, hosting websites, running applications, and managing devices such as printers and scanners. It is the backbone of any network, and without it, communication between devices would be impossible. Let’s explore the different types of servers available.

Types of Servers

There are several types of servers, each with its specific functionality. Let’s dive into each of them:

Web Server

A web server is a server that hosts websites and web applications. It responds to requests from web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, and delivers web pages and other web content to the requested client.

A web server may host several websites simultaneously, each with its unique domain name and IP address. It can be configured with many different technologies, such as Apache, Microsoft IIS, Nginx, and many more.

File Server

A file server is a server responsible for storing and managing data files. It makes it easy for users to share files with one another over a network, often using a shared location or a cloud-based service.

File servers provide centralized storage for critical data, such as business files, documents, photos, and other multimedia files. They are often used by businesses, schools, and other organizations that require a centralized data storage system.

Application Server

An application server is a server that delivers applications to client devices over a network. It provides an environment for hosting and executing applications and manages the business logic of the applications.

Application servers are widely used for cloud-based applications and services such as Salesforce, Dropbox, and Google Apps. They can be configured with many different technologies such as Java Virtual Machines, Ruby, and Python.

Mail Server

A mail server is a server responsible for sending and receiving emails over a network. It provides email services such as SMTP, POP, and IMAP protocols.

A mail server is typically used by businesses and other organizations that require email services for communication.

Server Hardware and Software

A server can be either hardware or software-based. The hardware-based server is a physical computer system, while a software-based server is created by installing specialized software on a computer system to provide server functionality.

Hardware-based servers can range from small home-based systems to large-scale data centers that require significant investment in capital and maintenance.

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The software-based server, on the other hand, requires minimal investment in hardware and can often be run on existing hardware used for other purposes such as desktops or laptops.

How a Server Works

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s dive into how a server works. A server works by listening for requests from client devices through port numbers. When a client device sends a request, the server processes it and sends back a response through the same port number. This process is known as the client-server model.

The client-server model is at the core of any networked system, and it enables communication between devices and applications over a network.

FAQs About Servers

What is the difference between a server and a computer?

A server is a computer system, software, or device that performs specialized functionality to manage network resources, while a computer typically refers to a personal or desktop computer used for general-purpose computing.

What is server software?

Server software is software that provides server functionality on a computer system. It includes specialized software such as web servers, mail servers, and file servers.

What is server virtualization?

Server virtualization is the process of creating one or more virtual servers on a physical server. It enables multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server, reducing the need for additional hardware and improving resource utilization.

What is cloud server hosting?

Cloud server hosting is a type of hosting service that provides server resources through a cloud-based infrastructure. It is scalable, flexible, and can be accessed from anywhere globally.


That’s it, Dev! We’ve covered the basics of what a server is and how it works. We’ve also explored the different types of servers and their specific functions. Next time you hear the term server or host computer, you’ll know what it means.

Whether you’re a small business owner or an IT professional, understanding servers is essential in today’s technology-driven world. If you have any questions or need further clarification, feel free to reach out to us.