Types of server computers and their functions

7 types of server computer, include file, database, application, web, virtual, etc.

A computer server is a computer system or program that manages and controls access to a network’s centralized resources. The server includes hardware, software, and data that is stored on them. They are powerful computers that can serve multiple clients simultaneously.

The server computers are used for different purposes and functions. They include database storage, user management, security, and hosting of websites and applications, among others. The server themselves are web, application, proxy, games, DNS, virtual, etc.

Functions of server computer

  1. Storage of data and databases: server is used to store files and all organization data for easy sharing. The organization that has ERP software has its databases stored on the server.
  2. Central management of resources: server computer is used to centralize organization IT operations. With a central server, it becomes easy to monitor and manage data, users, and security from a common point.
  3. Serve data to client devices: the main function of the server is to serve client devices and applications with requests. For example, if a user requests a webpage hosted on the server it should be able to deliver that data.
  4. Security of the network: computer servers should have best-practice security protocols implemented on them. This makes it hard to be accessed by any unauthorized person. Additionally, it also offers security for clients’ devices by controlling user login and authentication.
  5. Manage users’ login: any user who accesses the server in one way or another should use their unique username and password. This data should be managed from the server. It can also be used to manage access to all client devices used within the organization.
  6. Manage access control: server should be capable of managing who has access to what and their access right levels. This is part of security that ensure data of files are only accessed depending on the user’s job description with the organization.

Hardware computer servers

A computer server is a powerful computer that is used to serve data and applications to other computers and users (clients). It has high processing speed, storage capacity, main memory, and general functionality than personal computers. 

There are different ways that a server can look for small servers that look similar to a desktop computer. For big data centers, they are rack servers where you don’t find any mouse, or keyboard of monitors connected to them.

An organization’s hardware servers are usually located in a server room which is a critical business point of the organization. Those who don’t have a physical server can outsource the services from companies that specialize in data center services.

Server software

Physical hardware cannot function without having software to run on them. The main server software is the server operating system. It is sometimes called a network operating system. It has all the functions of an ordinary operating system and some additional functions. 

The extra functions include managing user data, security of the network, serving client computers with data, share storage space among others. It can handle multiple requests simultaneously from different clients.

Apart from the server operating system we have other software used in the server. The software gives the server its main purpose and function. The purpose of the server gives us the different types of computer servers.

Types of computer servers

These types of servers come about from the purpose that it is dedicated to at that particular moment. The types mean the computer server is dedicated to a specific role. Please note that a single server can have more than one role and purpose.

These types of server computers are:

Web servers

These servers host websites and provide the necessary infrastructure for users to access web pages over the internet. As you read this information you have requested the data from a web server. 

The server has the data and protocols that are required to serve the data and render it to the client device appropriately. Web servers mostly serve static web pages that have minimal user interaction.

Application servers

These servers host applications and provide the necessary infrastructure for users to access and use these applications over a network. To access your organization’s Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) you access a server that acts as an application server. 

When you are using an application from your smartphone or computer the data is coming from an application server. These servers offer data that has more user interaction compared to web servers.

Mail servers

The servers provide email services, including sending, receiving, and storing emails. They have different mail protocols that allow them to send and receive emails from one address to the next. 

File servers

These servers store and manage files that can be accessed over a network. The files can be shared on a specific drive on the network. The server can restrict different file access to a specific group of users and the right to modify. 

This configuration help organizations to share common data and files. They can include the organization’s policies, videos, images, and shared projects among other files.

Database servers

These servers store and manage databases, allowing users to access and manipulate data stored in the databases. The database can be the relational database of any other that the organization is using.

This is a server that can be queried to filter data using specified criteria. The user requires skill in how to make queries to get the right data. They mostly work together with the application server since data on the application comes from the database.

Virtual servers

These servers use virtualization technology to create multiple virtual servers on a single physical server. Each virtual server can run its own operating system and applications, effectively functioning as a separate server.

One physical server can have different virtual servers acting as a database, web, application, and file server. This is used to maximumly utilize the physical server. Instead of using it to run only one type of server using virtualization, you can run multiples.

This is the type of server that is used for those company that offers cloud computing services. Each client is assigned a virtual server to run their applications.

Domain Name System (DNS) server

The server is used to translate the website hostname to the IP address of the server where the website is located. Every website on the internet has a unique IP address which should be mapped properly to access it.

For example, when you type www.knowcomputing.com the DNS server translates the address to the IP address that is assigned to it. The most common DNS server is Google which has an address of 8.8.8.8.

Proxy server computer

This server role act as an intermediary between the client and the server on the internet. It is an additional security feature that helps reduce hacking. 

When a user sends a request to the server it goes through the proxy server. The server then changes the IP address of the requesting device then send it to the server over the inter that the client requested. 

This means that even if the request is intercepted you cannot be able to tell where it comes from since the address was modified by the proxy server. They can also be used to hide the location where the request is coming from. If for example, your country restricts access to a certain website you can use a proxy to bypass that and still access it.

Game servers

These servers host online multiplayer games, allowing players to connect and play games over the internet. The servers are optimized to offer fast responses for high graphic data that is used in games. The server should provide a seamless same interface for all users that are playing from all locations and devices.