If you are reading this article from your smartphone, desktop, or laptop, then it is because you have an internet connection that allows you to make connections with the server which is hosting our website in its data space. According to the reports by statistics, the global server market has grown to be 25.7 billion USD in the fourth quarter of 2020 (source). A server is more like a computer that is used to provide services to the other computer, which in most cases are clients such as website owners and e-commerce owners.
When it comes to the server/client approach making the network connection, a server receives the request from the client. The client's machine could be running on the same computer, or it could be running on a different computer that is connected to the server via a network. If you want to run a website online for your business or for your personal blog, you need to get a server space to host it on the web.
Today we are going to find out how a server works, what are the different forms of servers and if you are a website owner, which server is best for you. So let's start the learning process, shall we?
Definition Of A Server
As we said earlier, a server is a computer that serves the information to other computers and clients that are working on them. The computer sends the request to the server in order to get the information from the server. The server interprets the request and sees if it has the requested information or not. After that, if the server does contain the information needed, it will send it to the client, and thus, the process of receiving and sending the information on a network works. That's how most of the Internet works in the modern world.
A server consists of advanced hardware which you might not be able to put in your standard computer. In addition to this, a server is working 24x7 to keep your website up and running all the time throughout the year. There are tons of uses of a server in our normal web surfing, and it's a machine that works behind the scenes to provide you with the information that you need.
How Does A Server Work?
Well, in order to answer the question about how a server works, we need to dig deep into how a server is used as a data center. The very first thing you need to know is that without a server, the Internet which you use right now won't exist. Anytime when you are trying to access a web page, a video on YouTube, or just checking out the old photos from your friend's Facebook. A server is providing your browser all this information.
Given below is a step-by-step breakdown of how your browser sends the web request to the server and how it receives the information from the same.
Step - 1 Obtaining the IP address from the domain name written: When you write down the domain name on the search bar, your browser has to obtain the IP address of the domain name. There are two ways your browser can search for the IP address, the first one is the cache and the second method is by requesting it from the Domain Name Server (DNS).
Step - 2 Browser requesting the full URL: Once your browser gets the IP address from the server, the browser now demands the full URL of the entered domain name from the server.
Step - 3: Web server sends its response: The server will respond to the request made by your browser by sending you the desired page. If the page is not present in the server or there is some issue in sending the correct response to the request. The server will send you the error message.
Step - 4: Browser displays the information: If everything is working fine, your web browser will show you the web page which you have requested by obtaining the needful information of the web page which is provided in the server's response.
Why Do We Need A Server For The Internet To Work?
A server performs an array of tasks in less than seconds to send your browser the necessary information that you have requested. A server is more like a powerhouse of the Internet, and it is used to deliver us all the little things and information that we want from the Internet. Learning about servers and how they process the request is a great way to find which hosting web service will work out best for your website.
The very first thing you need to know is that a server is a repository of the information which is shown on web pages. A request sent by you from the server is basically you entering the web address on your browser's search bar and pressing the enter button. The server gets the request from the different ports, and it sends an adequate response to deliver your browser the web page on the screen that you have requested. In the core of the server's working, you will find it running on a complex process of request-response day in and day out and in each second of the minute.
Different Types Of Server
There are a total of six different types of servers, and all of them are made to perform various functions. A lot of networks contain more than one form of the servers, and all six of them are explained down below.
1. File Servers
From the name, you can make out that file servers are used to perform tasks related to file storage and distribution. A lot of times, multiple clients who are working in the same company use a single server to store all their files and retrieve the files from the server only. For example, if you have a team for editing and marketing for your YouTube channel, then you want your videos to be located in one location so every editor can easily access the file from the server and edit the video in their local system. You can watch its live implementation from a YouTube video (click here).
2. Print Servers
A print server is basically a computer that is attached to a printing machine, and it accepts all the printing requests which are coming from different computers present in the network. This type of server is used in both large and small scale companies where most of the documents need to be printed out.
You can find a print server in action in a government office where all the computers are working on the same network, and there is only one printer dedicated to the department. In 2021, some of the modern-day printers come with an inbuilt server. As a result, these types of modern printers don't require you to provide a computer that could serve as a server for the machine.
3. Application Servers
An application server is more of a software framework than a dedicated computing machine. It is used to deliver content and assets to run the application developed or used by the client. These web applications could be a web application, a browser, or other apps. An application server is used to provide clients and their computers with a business logic that helps them to transform the data into dynamic content and thus, enable the application to perform its assigned task. Moreover, it works as a link between the client, and the server-side code; typical functions which are performed by application servers are transaction management, security, concurrency, etc.
4. Domain Name Serves (DNS)
DNS works as the Internet's phonebook, and a DNS helps in translating the domain names of a web page into IP addresses so browsers can load the internet resources which are stored in it. With the implementation of DNS, you don't need to remember the long number called the IP address of web pages.
The DNS converts the domain name written by the user into the computer-friendly IP address so the machines can communicate with each other in their preferred language and deliver the needed information in time. There are two types of DNS servers and the first one is the authoritative DNS server, and the second is a recursive DNS resolver. Both of these are important, and in a lot of ways, they are said to be the backbone of our modern-day Internet.
5. Mail Servers
A mail server is a system that is responsible for handling and delivering emails over the Internet. A mail server is in the middle of the transfer between the client's computer and the receiver's computer. There are two types of mail servers: the first one is the outgoing mail server, and the second is the incoming mail server.
The outgoing mail servers are also known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). The incoming servers have two categories, first is Post Office Protocol, version 3 (POP3). The POP3 mail servers are well known for keeping a copy of the mail that is both sent and received on the system's hard drive. On the other hand, the second category of incoming servers is Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP); these servers are used to store copies of messages on servers. But mainly, POP3 is used as it allows mails to store on servers as it is more convenient.
6. Web Servers
A web server is the one that hosts web pages in their storage space. The main objective of the webserver is to store, process, and deliver web pages to the users. The intercommunication of the web servers is done by the markup language HTTP. These web pages are mostly static in nature. There are two types of web servers, and there is a public server and a private server. A shared server is also known as an internet server as it allows users from multiple systems to access the web pages which are hosted in it. Web servers are the most abundant form of servers, and the whole Internet is using them to provide you with the information that you need. Some of the common web servers include Apache web servers, Microsoft Internet Information Services, Nginx servers, etc.
Alternatives Of Server
The above-mentioned six types of servers are non-replaceable; each one of them has a unique task that they perform in the network. There is a NAS Network Attached Storage (NAS) which works like a file server, the NAS servers can come in any shape and size, and it depends on you how much local storage you want it to have. Also, NAS can be upgradable, as all you have to do is add more hard drives to expand the storage space. Apart from this, there is no alternative for any other form of server. Servers, as we said, provide important internet structure, and without them, the Internet would not be like what we see now.
Can You Make Your Computer A Server?
The simple answer to this question is yes, you can turn your computer into a server, but if we dig deep and find out how we can make our computers a server, we will find out that it is not feasible to turn a regular household computer into a server. Pretty much any computer can be converted into a server, even a computer that is running on bare minimum hardware. But the main problem of creating your own server is managing the networking side of things. In order for a computer to become a server, other machines should be able to connect with it and access the information stored in it. That's what the main task of a server is in the first place.
Now, if you are thinking of hosting your website on your computer and looking for the whole Internet to use, then you need to perform the routing operations on it. The routing operation could be a port forwarding or any external service which could map a domain name and the subdomain to a changing dynamic IP address. But to make your computer perform all the tasks which are required by a server, you need to upgrade your hardware to the enterprise level, and in no time, you will be crossing the five-figure mark of spendings.
We are not saying it is not possible, but it is not feasible for a lot of website owners. Because you can quickly get the best of the server hosting services in no time by spending as little as $10 per month, and there are multiple discounts and offers which you can receive all throughout the year. Thus, buying a hosting server service is a much better option than creating one.
So this is what servers are all about. If there were no servers, we wouldn't be able to access the information from the Internet, or it is more likely that there will be no internet. Thus, services are vital for the Internet to work. If you are planning on purchasing a hosting web service for your website, we would like you to start with small, and as your website's traffic increases, you upgrade the hosting plan. The best budget-friendly hosting service is shared hosting, in which you can easily set up your website or e-commerce business web page without any issues and only have to pay around $10 per month.
So now you know what servers are and why they are essential for the web; we hope this article has cleared all your questions about the server. But if there are still any queries or questions that you want to ask, feel free to write them down in the comment section for us to know. We will try to answer them to help you out.