Computer Jargon Demystified – What is a Server?
Perhaps more than any other field, computing is chock full of jargon. For many who are unfamiliar with the terminology, it can make using new technology unnecessarily daunting, when the basics are quite straightforward. One term that can sometimes confuse is the word “server.” So, what is a server, and what does it do?
A server is simply a program, or the computer that the program is running on, which provides a service. That is in comparison to a client, which is the device that makes the request. These form a client-server model, where the client sends an instruction to the server, and the server runs the process and returns the result.
How does this work in practice? You are using servers all the time without realizing it when you access the internet. The server stores all of the information needed to show a web page. When you want to view it, your computer (the client) contacts the server and asks for the information, which the server duly sends back so that you can see the page.
There are many other uses for servers away from the web. Game servers exist for multiplayer games, mail servers are used to send and receive email, and print servers are used in most offices so that one machine can do all the print jobs. However, the principle remains the same in all cases. The client sends a message to a server, which then processes the task.
Servers are yet another example of a simple idea lost behind computing jargon, but the premise is straightforward. Hopefully, now, next time you read a web page or hear someone talking about servers, you will know what they mean.