A server is a computer, perhaps it could be referred to more descriptively as a computer on steroids! Now that you have that powerful image in your mind of a massive computer with bulging biceps, it is probably a little easier for me to explain what a server actually is.
Why, you may ask, can’t a computer do the job? And what exactly makes a server better than a computer? I’ll answer these questions once I have highlighted the differences between servers’ strengths versus computers’ strengths.
Computers run multiple tasks and small applications much more cost effectively than a server would do, for an individual user to access. Think about your computer right now, you probably have email, a word editing program and a few other applications open in your system tray all together with your web browser in which you are reading this website. And it handles all the concurrent tasks simultaneously. But, importantly, only you are using it. Computers are designed for one person to use at a time.
On the other hand and very simply put, a server “serves data”, as it is serving this website to you. It is better suited to less concurrent applications, the fewer and more dedicated the tasks or applications, the better. Because its strength is that it can cope with a huge number of concurrent connections wanting this data – it serves! In other words, it can handle a lot of people simultaneously accessing those few applications at once.
Even more specifically, a web server is the term for a web hosting server running very specific applications and tasks. It doesn’t have differing applications to open at different times (as a computer may require). It always has the few needed applications running and it knows how to handle numerous simultaneous requests. It is built to serve these pages on this website as quickly as possible.
So to answer the questions above:
A computer can do the job of a server (and very often does), however it is not the best suited hardware for the particular task. An analogy might be a hammer and a mallet. You could use a hammer to do the job of a mallet, but you probably wouldn’t achieve the best and most precise result possible, and vice versa, you could use a mallet instead of a hammer, but probably exert a lot of unnecessary force and frustration to achieve the end result.
vAlso – a server isn’t “better” than a computer! It’s just different and better suited for specific tasks, as is a computer better suited for other tasks.
NewSprout Hosting’s MD, Gavin Payne, has been Hosting servers, applications and websites for over 10 years, helping global companies including Telstra, Bidvest, VISA, AVIS, AT&T, Peugeot, BMW, Motorola and many others build their online presence. NewSprout is an Australian company offering website hosting, email services and domain name registrations to business and personal clients. For more information visit https://www.newsprout.com.au/web-hosting