What is Server, Types of Server and Their Functions

What is a server?

A server is a computer that provides services to other computers, such as file sharing, email, and web hosting. Servers are normally connected to the Internet via a local area network (LAN), but can also be connected directly to the Internet or through service providers.

A computer server is used to support client-server applications and services. Servers may also include storage, database, or other computing resources, usually provided in a computing facility dedicated to hosting server applications or for providing a service to other computers.

N/B: A server can run on the windows, Linux and Unix operating systems.

A server can be either physical or virtual, depending on how it is configured, whether it has its operating system, and whether it can be safely accessed from outside the network boundary.

Types of Servers

Below are the most common types of servers;

Web server

Web servers are programs that manage and deliver web pages from the Internet to your computer or mobile device. Web servers receive requests from clients (e.g., browsers) and serve up the requested page(s).

The most commonly used web server is Apache, which has been around since 1995 and is open-source software. Other popular web servers include Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) and Apple’s Apache HTTP Server.

Proxy server

Proxy server

A proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between the client and the network. The main function of a proxy server is to pass requests from the client to other servers, thereby providing a convenient and secure way for users to access information on the Internet.

The purpose of using a proxy server is to hide your IP address, which is essentially your computer’s unique identification number.

In addition to hiding your IP address, a proxy can also help you access websites that may be blocked in your area or region.

For example, if you want to visit a website that is restricted in your country but is accessible from another country or region, then you can use proxy servers located in different countries or regions.

Virtual server

A virtual server is a computer that runs a complete operating system as a virtual machine. The virtual server is executed on the hardware of the physical computer. This allows for the isolation of operating systems, applications and data from one another, thus providing greater security than other types of servers.

A virtual machine server can be used to host multiple operating systems or applications, each with its own set of resources. This means that different tasks can be performed simultaneously by different users and it also means that a single server can run multiple operating systems at once without affecting each other’s performance.

File server

A File server is a server that stores files and other data. File servers are very important in a modern network. They store files, like documents, images and videos. The main function of a file server is to provide fast access to the files stored on it. File servers can be used for all kinds of purposes, such as sharing files between different users or even between different locations.

File servers are often used by companies that have large amounts of data that needs to be stored somewhere safe and secure but still accessible by everyone who needs access to it at any given time.

Application server

An application server is responsible for routing requests to different components within a system. This is referred to as request routing or dispatching. The server might also be responsible for building page views before sending them to the client or executing business logic on pages after they have been received from the client. The key difference between an application server and other platforms is that an application server has access to all parts of the system; there is no single point of failures like in a database or web server.

File transfer protocol server

FTP servers work by connecting different computers, or users, together to allow them to share files. The server is the central point where all the connections are made and where all the information is stored. The user who wants to access the remote file will log into the FTP server and request that it connect with their computer. Once connected, they will be able to view any files on that server’s hard drive.

The main advantage of using an FTP server is that it allows users to access remote files more securely than if they were accessing them directly from their computer’s hard drive. This is because when you access a file through an FTP server, you are simply logging into another user’s computer without having access to their data or files.

Mail server

A mail server is a type of computer software that is used to send and receive electronic mail messages. The mail server accepts mail for delivery or forwards incoming messages to other mail servers or other recipients.

Mail servers have been available for many years now, but it was not until the early days of the Internet that they became popular.

Mail servers were initially designed to support large amounts of mail traffic by providing redundancy in case one machine failed.

Today, most organizations have at least one dedicated mail server that provides access to their internal email system as well as external email services such as Gmail and Yahoo!

Print server

A Print Server is a software program installed on a computer that manages network printing for multiple users on multiple computers located anywhere in your organization. It allows users to share their printers easily with others who require access and makes it easy for users to set up their printers if desired.

A Print Server can also be used by end-users as an offline viewer for inspecting documents after they have been printed out

An advantage of using a print server is that it allows you to manage your printers from one location.

Gaming server

Gaming servers are different from normal servers because they are designed to run games and other applications. The most common purpose of a gaming server is to host multiplayer games such as Counter-Strike or Call of Duty.

A gaming server has multiple processors and memory chips to allow it to run multiple applications at once while also having plenty of power to handle heavy tasks. The memory chips allow the gaming server to store information in the RAM area so that it can run multiple programs at once without having to reload the program every time it runs.

Domain Name System server

The DNS server is the computer that acts as a phone book for the Internet. It holds information about each domain name and its corresponding IP address, so that when you type in a web address, your browser can find the correct host on the Internet.

Functions of Server

Below are the functions of servers;

1. Provide access to a computer programs or data

This means that the server can be used by anyone who has access to it, whether they are using it directly or indirectly.

2. Provide storage for information or data

It holds information in its memory, and this information can be accessed by other programs or people on other computers. For example, a database program may need access to all of its data to run properly.

3. Act as an interface between two programs or hardware devices

These programs communicate with each other through the network connection that the server provides.

4. Performs calculations on behalf of another program or user

This can be done with electronic calculators and scientific software packages such as Matlab (Mathematical Laboratory).

Provide services for users on the internet such as web hosting, email accounts and virtual private networks (VPNs).

5. Provides authentication and authorization services for users of a network.

Ensures data integrity, ownership and confidentiality are all maintained on files being stored on the server.

6. Keeps track of files when accessed or created

Provides information about who is accessing files and what they are doing with them.


Servers can provide many different services such as desktop computer setup, web hosting, remote access, data storage and backup, application hosting and deployment.

Servers are used for various purposes such as providing network infrastructure for large enterprises; running servers for websites such as Facebook; providing infrastructure for peer-to-peer (P2P), file-sharing applications like BitTorrent; and providing cloud computing resources via virtualization software.

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