Browse Definitions:
Definition

server

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Server form factors: A guide to rackmount, blade servers and more

A server is a computer program that provides a service to another computer programs (and its user). In a data center, the physical computer that a server program runs in is also frequently referred to as a server. That machine may be a dedicated server or it may be used for other purposes as well.

In the client/server programming model, a server program awaits and fulfills requests from client programs, which may be running in the same or other computers. A given application in a computer may function as a client with requests for services from other programs and also as a server of requests from other programs.

Types of servers

Servers are often categorized in terms of their purpose. A Web server, for example, is a computer program that serves requested HTML pages or files. The program that is requesting web content is called a client. For example, aWeb browser is a client that requests HTML files from Web servers.

Here are a few other types of servers, among a great number of other possibilities:

An application server is a program in a computer in a distributed network that provides the business logic for an application program. 

A proxy server is software that acts as an intermediary between an endpoint device, such as a computer, and another server from which a user or client is requesting a service. 

A mail server is an application that receives incoming e-mail from local users (people within the same domain) and remote senders and forwards outgoing e-mail for delivery.

A virtual server is a program running on a shared server that is configured in such a way that it seems to each user that they have complete control of a server. 

A blade server is a server chassis housing multiple thin, modular electronic circuit boards, known as server blades. Each blade is a server in its own right, often dedicated to a single application.

A file server is a computer responsible for the central storage and management of data files so that other computers on the same network can access them.

A policy server is a security component of a policy-based network that provides authorization services and facilitates tracking and control of files. 

Important server features

Choosing the right server 

There are many factors to consider in the midst of a server selection, including virtual machine (VM) and container consolidation. When choosing a server, it is important to evaluate the importance of certain features based on the use cases. Security capabilities are also important and there will probably be a number of protection, detection and recovery features to consider, including native data encryption to protect data in flight and data at rest, as well as persistent event logging to provide an indelible record of all activity. If the server will rely on internal storage, the choice of disk types and capacity is also important because it can have a significant influence on input/output (I/O) and resilience. 

Many organizations are shrinking the number of physical servers in their data centers as virtualization allows fewer servers to host more workloads. The advent of cloud computing has also changed the number of servers an organization needs to host on premises. Packing more capability into fewer boxes can reduce overall capital expenses, data center floor space and power and cooling demands. Hosting more workloads on fewer boxes, however, can also pose an increased risk to the business because more workloads will be affected if the server fails or needs to be offline for routine maintenance. 

Server maintenance checklist

A server maintenance checklist should cover physical elements as well as the system's critical configuration. Download a PDF of this server maintenance checklist.

See also: server virtualization, server sprawl

This was last updated in January 2018

Continue Reading About server

Join the conversation

17 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

helps me about telling me basic of iis
Cancel
nice
Cancel
it helps me know about it clearly
Cancel
thank you............
Cancel
i think this website is shit
Cancel
ok but with cloud storage these days y would u need a server for a small business with around 5 to 10 employees ?
Cancel
:p
Cancel
What sort of server did Hillary Clinton have at her home in New York and what we're its functions?
Cancel
That should have been the mail server. Mail servers actually stores the mails of all the persons in a organization.
Cancel
this really helped thank you! ^^ *wink*
Cancel
this didnt help me at all
Cancel
Please explain why my computer keeps, coming on with comments saying: (server is not responding) This is a brand new computer. Everything is going down. Thank you for your time.
Cancel
I wouldn't call a sever a program.. more of a machine.
Cancel
Cheers mate your really cool
Cancel
hio
Cancel
The application server actually stores all the applications that are used by the employs of any organisation to use the application directly from the server rather downloading the application in the user system and install it to use them.
Cancel
Hi. Can I know what the different between this server and server operating system?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchCloudProvider

  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.

SearchSecurity

  • cyberextortion

    Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of an attack coupled with a demand for money or some other response in ...

  • Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency is the official U.S. cryptologic organization of the United States Intelligence Community under the ...

SearchHealthIT

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to ...

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient...

  • 21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • Random Access Memory (RAM)

    Random Access Memory (RAM) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

  • floating gate transistor (FGT)

    A floating gate transistor (FGT) is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology capable of holding an electrical ...

  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close