How Does a Computer Server Work

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Computer Server Work.

 

The field of information technology and computers was foreign to me for a long time.  It felt confusing, and like any time I started to read about it I was way over my head.  However, one of the key components to achieving higher understanding with them is to study what servers are and how they function.

While it might seem complicated, I can assure you that it isn’t.  Learning about them and the different types can really increase your overall understanding of computers and how they can serve your business.  Just keep reading!

What are They?

Before we can talk about how they work, let’s start with the basics.  What are they?  Well, if you are deeply familiar if the topic, you might consider reading this article: https://www.cs.rochester.edu/~kshen/papers/usenix2010-li.pdf.  However, if you’re looking for a more basic overview, I will provide.

At their core, they are a computer that provides things for other computers.  This might include software, storage, data, or resources.  There are many forms of them to keep in mind, all with distinct purposes.

First, let’s discuss database ones.  These are servers that store data that can be accessed by several people at one time.  They don’t require the normal architecture that plain databases need to run, instead relying on their internal hardware.

Of course, there are web servers.  For these, they are what allow us to access the internet.  They operate very similarly to physical computers in that they can run most of the same programs.

Email servers are another story.  They usually run on something known as simple mail transfer protocol.  The mechanisms of it is fairly simple – they transfer the data from one client to another client.  Sometimes the data is lost in the transfer, so formatting might not show up the same.

Finally, there are file servers.  They are considered a modern addition to the list of variants and can help in mapping out large amounts of files.  With them, the users can access the shared files from their own desktops.  Talk about convenient.

Obviously, there are more types.  However, I tried to stick to the basics so as not to overcomplicate things.  You can always explore the different types of servers with a search online for more details.

How They Work

While this is not too hard to explain, it is more complex than the last topic.  Try to remember what you’ve learned so far as you continue.  If you ever get lost, feel free to read again.

They operate via a system of request and response.  So, when you search something on a search engine, that is a request.  The websites that are pulled up after is the response.  See?  Simple!

 Why They Matter

If you spend any time on the internet at all, you should know that without servers you wouldn’t be able to.  They are the backbone of the world wide web, even if we do not think of them often.  Many big technology companies have huge physical servers that make up entire rooms.

For our businesses, though, we probably don’t need anything that big.  However, investing in some (be they physical or virtual) can really make some tasks easier.  Sharing files and other data becomes far simpler.

Not convinced yet?  I understand.  There are whole fields of academia dedicated to this topic.  You can read some examples of this here if you are curious: https://www.nhpittsburgh.com/solutions/resources/upcoming-events-and-webinars/network-server-types-explained.

In a business setting, this technology works tirelessly to process and maintain data.  Twenty-four hours a day, in fact.  They require minimal maintenance, thankfully, though you should keep an eye on them.  The physical models take up far more space but work faster and more reliably.

What is nice about them is that you can scale them to your needs.  As your business grows in the future, you can expand your servers to meet that demand.  Adding components and making them larger is a relatively simple process and does not require a lot of technological know-how.

Another perk that is worth mentioning is the added security they can provide.  Of course, it is harder for hackers to get access to an encrypted server.  Proxy ones can protect your information as you browse the web, since your data is sent to the proxy rather than the host.

It also gives you a sense of safety because your data will not disappear just because you are using another desktop.  Instead, you can access it anywhere with a virtual server and most places with a physical one (if you set up a file one).  It’s quite convenient.

As a final note, they have become increasingly relevant given the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is because they are accessible remotely.  Without them, who knows how we would have continued working during the peak of lockdown!