What is .......... a server?

What is it

A server is a computer dedicated to providing some specific service for other computers on the network.

What kind of servers are there?

You call the server by what task it needs to do. For example

Print server: this is connected to the network printers and acts as the go-between for your computer and the printer when you send a document to print. The print server handles the task for you, leaving you free to get on with something else. If a job seems to be taking a long time, then you can normally click on your printer icon in the task bar to have a look at the 'print queue' to see what is holding it up.

File server: This handles the sharing and storing of files on the network. You will normally see 'Network Drives' in Windows Explorer as well as your local 'C' drive. These drives are part of the file server. You can have many file servers on a network.

Web Server: This handles the delivery of web pages and files linked to those web pages. A web server can sit on an Intranet so it remains private to those users. Or it can be connected to the Internet, in which case it will be handling one or more domain names.

FTP Server: Sometimes large files need to be moved from one business to another. In theory an email attachment can be used. But if the file is very large, then it is better to provide an FTP server that both companies can connect to. After you login, you use an FTP client (File Transfer Protocol) to upload the file. Then the other person uses an FTP client to download it.

Video Server: This is dedicated to streaming video, such as news, films and so on.

Are they expensive?

They can be - sometime tens of thousands of pounds. They have to be especially reliable. For example a good file server has several hard disk arranged in parallel (RAID array). Each hard disk has the same data, so if one hard disk fails it can be swapped even with the power still on, this is called 'hot swapping'. Network users are not aware of any problem going on.

What is the future?

Up to now, nearly all servers have been in businesses and organisations such as your school. Now servers are beginning to be used in the home as well. For example, you can now buy 'Media servers' for the home that will store and distribute music, television and video around the house on a wireless network.



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