The word "server" has long ceased to be a specialised term used only by professionals, moving into the field of everyday communication. Despite the fact that we constantly use such words as "game server" or "email server," and in movies the main characters are doing some sort of manipulations with "servers" too, we don’t always know what a server is. What does it look like? What tasks does it solve? What functions does it perform? Why is it placed in a separate room? And, well, how does a server differ from a regular desktop computer?
Let's start with the definition: what is a server?
A server is a special type of equipment that solves certain tasks. It is a powerful computer (or a network of computers) that acts as a processor and a depository of various digital data. In other words, it is the resource that users of personal computers utilise to communicate with each other and carry out various actions on the Internet.
Simply put, a server is a kind of medium for storing information. Depending on the intended use, the server receives its specification and name. Depending on the required amount of data, people use a different number or different configuration of such media.
The server differs from a regular computer not only by its functions but also physically. Most often, it is a module (a hardware unit) built into special racks, like shelves in a cabinet. A separate set of such modules is called a "server station". Visually, this module is similar to a regular system unit of a desktop computer but placed vertically. There are several basic physical versions of server units, but you will find more info on that in the next article. The room where servers or stations are located is called the "server room".
The server has more memory, increased processor power and hard drives capacity. Also, servers run on their own software. Usually such programs are based on special versions of Windows and Linux operating systems. Sometimes proprietary service software applications are developed for this.
The setting up of a server center is conducted through a special unified console (data entry tools), subsequent control is carried out remotely from a special computer with separate access. This computer equipment is maintained by specialists — programmers, network engineers, and system administrators.
The size of the server room differs depending on the required work capacity. Therefore, a "server" may look like a network of several blocks, or like a room with one or two server racks, or like a separate room with many stations lined up in rows. In the latter case, such "server factories" are called "data centers" that lease their capacities remotely. Companies providing hosting services work in this way.
Another significant difference between a server and a computer is a special working climate and autonomy. In addition to increased processing power and increased memory, the server must provide uninterrupted offline operation. For this, it is connected via special communication lines using fiber-optic cables, and the power is duplicated by a separate power supply system. Each server is equipped with a cooling system that maintains required temperature conditions even under increased workloads. Server rooms also have their own climate control systems that regulate the humidity level and the air temperature in them. In case of overload or unforeseen situations, there are backup stations, which will be used in the emergency mode.
Such measures fully justify themselves, because not only the safety of data and the ability to perform targeted operations depend on the uninterrupted operation of the server but also the functioning of the whole network. It doesn’t matter whether it is a local network of a small company, a server room of a large corporation, or resources of a global network available to users in the form of email, videos, games, and other services.
To sum it up: a server is a separate digital data medium of a computer type that uses special software to solve specialised tasks and operates on an uninterrupted flow basis.
Today, you can choose a server for specific tasks, buy or rent it, choosing the best solution for your tasks and needs in the vast world of computers and the Internet.