What are servers?

They mediate many tasks that we perform every day, even when we are not aware of it. Servers allow you to use the web, such as when we browse the internet, transfer files, play online games, watch movies, and more. But what exactly are servers ?

The prevailing pandemic has grounded most of us at home. This is a very difficult time, and for most people, especially the younger ones, it can also prove unimaginably boring. So what to do? Adults work remotely whenever possible, and students download online learning. But what to do in your spare time? Well, it depends on your individual needs. For example, you can cultivate talents, pursue hobbies or play games with friends. Entertainment in the form of an online game will provide many hours of fun and will allow you to integrate with friends at this hard time. However, few people know how multiplayer is possible. Servers are used to communicate via the Internet between two different computers – they mediate many network tasks.

WHAT IS A SERVER?

 Servers are programs or, most often, computers that enable sharing and intermediation in the exchange of data and services between clients. A client is a device or program that communicates with a server – when you surf the web, your browser is the client and web hosting is your server. Servers usually run non-stop, offering their resources and services to clients around the clock. They are constantly connected to the network and most often have computer components specially adapted to their task. There are also operating systems for their operation to facilitate communication and increase efficiency, such as Linux Debian. 

TYPES OF SERVERS

Due to the type of data sent, servers can be divided into different types – usually they communicate on one specific port, sending resources in a fixed data format.

  • WWW server – this is the type of server that we probably meet most often. It is used to provide access to websites and their content on the Internet. Of course, in order for it to be visible to each of us, it is required to register its IP address with a DNS name server, and to give it an appropriate, user-friendly domain. In conjunction with a database, it can serve as a device for storing and processing valuable data or, for example, create a forum or an online store.
  • FTP server – it provides various types of files using the FTP protocol. To connect, it usually requires authorization using a login and password assigned to the user. Most often, the web server works together with the FTP server – to upload a website to the hosting, you usually need to use an FTP client to transfer files.
  • Print server – it is a server hosted by printers, which enables remote printing of documents via the local network or the Internet. It is a great solution in larger enterprises due to the elimination of the need to connect a computer to a printer. 
  • MySQL server – a type of server that stores and provides access to database management. The most frequently used phpMyAdmin also allows you to authorize access to specific areas of databases. It is most often used in conjunction with a web server, but it can function as an independent connection point to the base.
  • Access server – most often a network device that provides Internet connection to connected clients. This is usually a router or hub, often found at work and at home.

 

Of course, these are only examples of the most popular types of servers – in practice, most developers are able to create their own server with a unique way of working. Each of the examples listed above has its own port, which is a number by which you can access it, for example, a web server has port 80, and FTP most often has port 21.

WHAT DO I NEED TO HOST A SERVER?

In order to be able to provide services on the Internet, certain conditions must be met. First of all, our computer should have adequate resources that would be able to handle customer requests, but also the proper operation of our system. A more powerful processor and a lot of RAM are useful here. Additionally, in order for our server to be visible on the Internet, our IP should be public. Most do not meet this condition – to ensure security, internet providers often block access to ports, and our IP is usually private. What in this situation? Third-party solutions such as LogMeIn Hamachi come to the rescue. This program allows you to connect two computers on a specific port, mediating between them. It is required to be installed on all clients and server. Renting a dedicated machine is also a good solution. Often they are intended strictly to serve as a server, and as a result have powerful processors and large amounts of RAM. Depending on the desired server, the price may fluctuate significantly. There is a wide selection of server hosting on the Internet – WWW, FTP, MySQL, or machines tailored to our individual needs.

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