If you are reading this article from your smartphone, desktop, or laptop, it is because you have an internet connection that allows you to connect with the server hosting our website in its data space. According to statistics, the global server market has grown to 25.7 billion USD in the fourth quarter of 2020 (source). In this article, we will go through the different types of servers out there. A server is more like a computer used to provide services to the other computer, which in most cases, clients such as website owners and e-commerce owners.
When it comes to the server/client approach to 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 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, 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; 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. Furthermore, a server is working 24x7 to keep your website up and running 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 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 centre. The first thing you need to know is that without a server, the Internet you use now won't exist. Anytime 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 with 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: 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 is the cache, and the second 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 you requested by obtaining the needful information of the web page 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 you requested. A server is more like a powerhouse of the Internet and is used to deliver all the little things and news we want from the Internet. Learning about servers and how they process requests is a great way to find which hosting web service will work out best for your website.
The first thing you need to know is that a server is a repository of the information shown on web pages. A request sent by you from the server is 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. Most networks contain more than one server form, and all six of them are explained 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. Multiple clients working in the same company often use a single server to store all their files and retrieve them from the server only. For example, suppose you have a team for editing and marketing your YouTube channel. In that case, 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 a computer attached to a printing machine that accepts all the printing requests from different computers in the network. This server type is used in large and small-scale companies where most documents must be printed.
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 came with an inbuilt server. As a result, these 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 web applications, browsers, or other apps. An application server is used to provide clients and their computers with a business logic that helps them 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 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 translate the domain names of a web page into IP addresses so browsers can load the internet resources 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; the first one is the authoritative DNS server, and the second is a recursive DNS resolver. Both are important, and in many ways, they are said to be the backbone of our modern-day Internet.
5. Mail Servers
A mail server is a system responsible for handling and delivering emails over the Internet. A mail server is in the middle of the transfer between the client's and receiver's computers. 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 known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). The incoming servers have two categories: Post Office Protocol, version 3 (POP3). The POP3 mail servers are well known for keeping a copy of the mail sent and received on the system's hard drive. On the other hand, the second category of incoming servers is the 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 its storage space. The main objective of the webserver is to store, process, and deliver web pages to the users. The markup language HTTP does the intercommunication of the web servers where the web pages are primarily static. There are two web servers: 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; the whole Internet uses them to provide you with the information you need. Some standard web servers include Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Services, Nginx, etc.
Alternatives Of Server
The six types mentioned above 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 how much local storage you want it to have. Also, NAS can be upgradeable, as you must add more hard drives to expand the storage space. Apart from this, there is no alternative for any other server form. 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 running on bare minimum hardware. But the main problem of creating your server is managing the networking side. 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, 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 spending.
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, there are multiple discounts and offers that you can receive throughout the year. Thus, buying a hosting server service is much better than creating one.
So these are the different types of servers available in today's infrastructure. If there were no servers, we wouldn't be able to access the information from the Internet, or it is more likely that there would 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.
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