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What are the differences between servers?

Updated on January 5, 2012

Servers - General

A server is a piece of equipment that allows you to run an application on a computer. What you are able to do depends on the type of server you have been connected to. A server is usually optimized for the users needs and provides access to multiple users at any one time. The number of users will depend on the size and processing power of the server. They are used to offer remote access, database access and more generally in order to transfer files over a secure network.

In fact, any computer can be designated as a server. There are no special characteristics other than it being clearly defined and then linked to on the network. If the server is only going to run one particular application, then the name of the application will also be known by the same name as the server. You can also get a private server but that will be more expensive.

Most network designers will asses the risk of the servers and the information held on them in order to limit damage that a server crash would cause. In order to do this, they would split up one server computer to handle one specific server application. It is also possible to use a server computer as a workstation computer, but this uncommon due the risk and damage that could be associated with this practice. It is also generally prohibited for security reasons and information safety purposes.

Servers vary in size depending on the processing power needed and the amount of workload it is expected to handle during operational time. For example, a batch of server applications may be divided between a number of separate server computers in exceptional circumstances. However in most cases, the server application can run on a single computer if the workload is light enough.

One of the best examples of servers is the Internet. The Internet is comprised of the client to server model where the Internet Service Providers direct the traffic across the biggest group of networked computers in the world. When thinking about servers and their role in daily life, it is useful to picture the Internet as it provides a clear picture of their use and function.

The Idea behind and Different Types of servers

How Servers Connect the Web To YOU
How Servers Connect the Web To YOU
An Average N.O.C. Data Center Server Rack
An Average N.O.C. Data Center Server Rack
A Dell* Server Rack
A Dell* Server Rack

Free Servers - You Get What You Pay for

Certainly, if you are just getting started on the Internet and have just created your first website then you should take advantage of the free servers that are made available to you. This will give you a good idea of how to upload and run a website. It is also a great way to test out a website without spending your own money.

You will Also Need A domain Name You can get both free hosting with domain at,, or many others

As you browse the Internet looking for places to upload your websites, you will be able to find a number of free servers being made available. There are a growing number of companies who are prepared to offer free server space and bandwidth to webmasters, but the question is whether or not it is worth your time.

Using a free server as a web host is also a great idea if you are a website designer. You can showcase your work and get potential clients to view your skills. While there are many advantages to free servers, there are also some disadvantages that you need to be clear about. One of the biggest disadvantages is that you have very limited control over your website.

One of the main disadvantages is that you are likely to have many banner adverts on your website. This is something that you will have to agree to in order to use the free server space. This is also how the owner of the server makes their money. This can look very unprofessional and put off many potential clients and customers from doing business with you.

For example, you may wake up tomorrow morning and find that your website is no longer live. The company who owns the free server may deicide to use it for another purpose and they have the right to do so without informing you. Make sure you always read the terms and conditions before agreeing to use the free server space that is provided to you. If you are looking for a long term website, then you should avoid using free servers for this reason.

Another reason to avoid using free servers is that you will have to share the space with thousands of other webmasters. This means that you will be given a limited amount of server space and bandwidth. This could make your website slow and unresponsive. It could also mean that your website may be offline on a regular basis.

Private Servers - The Next Step Up

A private server is also known as a virtual dedicated server, and it involves a method of making a partition on the physical server. This partition basically creates a number of servers on one main computer however; it now gives each section or partition, the capabilities of running on its own dedicated machine. It also gives the appearance of being a separate entity.

Once this partition is set-up, you the have the ability to run a fully functional, all-inclusive operating system on each of the multiple servers. This also allows you to reboot each server independently of the others. As such, you have a lot more choices and options from a private server.

There are now a growing number of companies on the Internet that offers private servers for a very competitive price. In days gone past, only the top companies would be able to afford such a piece of hardware, but it now very common in small to medium sized businesses online.

There are also companies who offer private servers in addition to their web hosting service, which are offered as standard to most customers. There are many customers who upgrade their requirements and need more space and resources once they are able to build up their traffic online.

Private servers allow companies and individuals to test out the power and usefulness of a dedicated server without having to pay for one, or incur the hassle of setting it up and making any customisation to it. In recent years, this has therefore been a way to transition from shared web hosting and has provided features more similar to dedicated hosting packages.

Because the cost of dedicated servers can be very expensive, the private servers offer a very good alternative, and something that many companies need. There are a huge number of people online that need more specialisation than regular web hosting packages give them, without the need for a dedicated server, which can be hugely expensive to maintain and operate.

There are some limitations to private servers. The most obvious being the lack of power in terms of ram and processing speed, that is common with a dedicated sever. Besides this, you may not be able to install or run some software programs such as firewalls, anti-virus clients and so on. Taking these factors into consideration is very important before choosing between a dedicated server and a private server.

Dedicated Servers - For Serious Business Operations

Dedicated servers are the choice of many of the top Internet marketers, or webmasters online. They give the owner much more customisation, space and are safer than using a shared server. This means they can rely solely upon it for their own use. With a high volume of activity for a business this is often a great way to go.

It is a good idea to start by using a shared sever when you build your first website and need hosting services, but once the website continues to grow larger and larger, and starts to attract many thousands of visitors on a daily basis, then you will need to opt for a dedicated server.

Also, if your website is very graphic intensive or runs a lot of personalised scripts, then a dedicated server should be your choice form the beginning. This will give you and your website users a much more enjoyable online experience, without bandwidth problems and such like.

With a dedicated server, you will have much more bandwidth, ram (random access memory) and software capabilities. It should also cut out a lot of the downtime associated with shared servers, which is very frustrating to both you and your website visitors.

The downtime can occur as many websites are hosted on once shared account, and the flood of website users causes a huge intensity problem for the server, as such sometimes they are unable to cope with the demand. In this instance you have no control over the amount of time the server will be down, and you must reply on the owner of the shared server to get your websites back online as quickly as possible.

There are some circumstances where you would want to choose a dedicated server in the first instance. Such an example would be if you are running an e-commmerce website. Sometimes the software used for the ecommerce website has trouble running on the shared servers. This is due to the lack of options, both in terms of software and hardware.

With a dedicated server you have much more micro-management control, as you can set up your own control panel and really customise every step of the process. You can also host as many websites as you wish, so you have control over the likely use of bandwidth, allowing your most popular websites to be run smoothly.

Email Servers - A Whole Different BallGame

When you are looking into buying an email server, one the highest priorities is always the security aspect. This article is going to detail some of the precautions, options and measures you can take to ensure the mail server is as secure as possible. Email server security, should not only be limited to email applied security operations, anti-virus and anti-spam procedures, however most people only deal with this aspect of the email sever security.

In fact, those items listed above are only the first level of security in the process of safeguarding your mail server. The most important aspects should always be consider before choosing the email server as they will greatly affect your business in the long run. Lets take a look at what these other factors are.

One of the primary needs is to secure the configuration and administration of the email server. While these are often overlooked they are vital as an extra security layer in the fight against damage and unwanted intruders.

You would need to look at the server configuration file and ensure that access is only granted to the server administrator. This means that only one person can reconfigure or modify the server’s settings. The configuration files should always be specific to the administrator and very simple to modify and read, so that changes can be made if necessary.

It is also important that alternative administration modules are provide in order to access the webs interface and the command line interface. It is also highly critical that all the connections to these modules are made through SSL. In order to ensure they are correctly secured, you should use a mail server with customised HTTP server. You can also use a HTML based scripting language in order to achieve this objective.

The email server should also use grey lists in order to temporarily reject email that is from an unknown address. This process will keep the IP address of the sender and then request for the email to be resent. Of course, a valid sender will return the email again, which a spammer will not. This is a great way to prevent spam form the server.

Remember that with an email sever, there is no perfect solution but you should be vigilant and protect yourself as much as possible. Carrying out the checks and guidance given above will allow for the best configuration and mean you have the best chances to avoid any unwanted incidents.

Hope This Helps Explain The Difference For Some of the new people out there always asking me what type of server to get.


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