What does a server do?
A server is a computer that serves information to other
computers. These computers, called clients, can connect to a server
through either a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network
(WAN), such as the Internet.
There are a number of different types of servers, including Web
servers, mail servers, and file servers. A web server serves Web
pages to computers that connect to it. It also can parse scripting
languages such as PHP, ASP, and JSP. A mail server stores users'
e-mail accounts and sends and receives e-mail messages. For
example, when you send an e-mail to a friend, the message is sent
by a mail server, using the SMTP protocol. A file server is a
computer that stores files that can be accessed by other computers.
File servers are often used within local networks and typically
require a password or some kind of authentication to connect to
These are a few examples of some common servers, but several other
types of servers exist. Just about any computer can be used as a
server if the necessary server software is installed on it. While
servers typically don't need a lot of processing power, lots of RAM
and fast hard drives are helpful for dealing with heavy traffic to
and from the server.