Depending on who you ask, it can mean different thing. Typically a server is referred to a piece of computer hardware that is designed to deliver data to a network. But the hardware does not really need to be enterprise grade server rack stuff, to be called a server in your home network. A server can also be a laptop, small desktop computer or even a Raspberry Pi.
I like to define ‘server’ as a role you can assign to a piece of computer hardware. One piece of computer can have multiple server roles, like handling e-mail and a webpage at the same time. A server is a server, because of the software that runs on it.
A computer can be assigned a lot of different roles and one computer is more suitable for one role then the other. Here I will highlight some different types of servers:
|Type of Server||Used for|
|Application server||A server that runs an application. Can be as simple as one simple server that simply serves some files when requests by a webbrowser, but can also include databases or application software to provide more functionality. Most applications that run in the webbrowser do run a whole suite of different software to provide a service.|
|Mail server||A server that handles mail traffic. Commonly it consists of two applications: one for sending e-mail and one for receiving mails.|
|Network Attached Storage (NAS)||A server that commonly has a lot of storage space that can be accessed by multiple clients at the same time. Runs one or multiple file servers for easy reading and writing of files.|
|Proxy servers||Forward traffic from one server to another. It is used for a whole lot of reasons, including but limited to caching, load balancing and additional security.|