What is a server?

  CurlyWhirly 16:28 02 Sep 2004

There has been talk recently about PC Advisor's server being unable to cope due to the popularity of this site!
This has been MUCH improved as I have recently logged on and it is presently like greased lightning!

What I would like to know is what EXACTLY a server does and is it automatic or does it require someone keeping an eye on it?
What is the difference between a server and the average Home PC like mine?
For example would it have more RAM (I currently have 1 gb) and would it have a MUCH larger hard drive (I currently have 120 Gb).
Also would it have a faster processor (I currently have a 3Ghz Barton)
This is not a 'true' help question but I felt that if I posted it in Speakers Cprner I wouldn't get any replies!

p.s. I did type 'server' into Google but as a Forum member (Spikey Chris I think) posted a thread recently I am ONE of the 99% of people who doesn't know how to take FULL advantage of search engines as I had 1000's of results but none of them seemed to help me in my query.

  spanneress 16:36 02 Sep 2004

It does exactly what it does on the tin!!

In basic GCSE terms..it serves those connected to it...it has much more power than the average PC. PC's attached to it by whichever topology (network design) have access to facilities provided by it such as data, files,printers etc. The server copes with the requests by using say, a token system and serves the requests of those on the network. Once set up it *should* run atutomatically but obviously requires human intervention st times.

That is the basic idea...there are different servers for different needs..a web server, file server, print server., man servant (I made that one up hee hee).

That do you?

  SANTOS7 16:40 02 Sep 2004

click here uggins of info here

  CurlyWhirly 16:41 02 Sep 2004

Thanks for your explanation.
Thats one thing I don't like about Google and that is when you read the results there are a LOT of sponsored links but I know they NEED to be there so Google can make money but they are nevertheless annoying!
That's what I meant when I said that "none of them seemed to help me in my query!"

  cga 16:42 02 Sep 2004

Thats a good question. Technically, as I am sure you know, a server is any system set up to passively service requests rather than actively make them.

Beyond that we get into the nature of the type of applications that run on servers. Most need a data store of some type so have a Database (often SQL). Most have to deal with many concurrent requests (at least if they are popular).

You can set up a server on your home PC but Server OS's are optimised for this purpose. The processing power etc that you need really depends on the application. The only real gotcha is that the load on popular servers tends to grow in an uncontrollable way.

One other key issue with servers is that of backup. You can backup your home system easily but it is a lot more difficult with a system that never sleeps.

At the top end we have servers at work that cope with 5000+ transactions a second and have 4 x 15 minute outages a year. That takes some managing and an unscheduled outage of 1-2 minutes is very costly.

  herc182 16:43 02 Sep 2004

click here

loads of definitions......

in case you dont know type "define:" and the word you want to define into google and you get a shed load of responses

  CurlyWhirly 16:44 02 Sep 2004

Thanks also.
Ah - Now I know how to use Google a bit better now as you have showed me the way!
You put DEFINE in before the SERVER (keyword).
I will use this method in future and see if it brings me more meaningful results!

  CurlyWhirly 16:46 02 Sep 2004

Thanks to you ALL.
What fast responses, I will check out all the links and info now.

  CurlyWhirly 16:52 02 Sep 2004

As Microsoft is the largest Software company in the world would I be right in thinking that it has more than ONE server to cope with demand, for example, the mad rush for PC users to download Service Pack 2 from it's website?

  recap 18:38 02 Sep 2004

click here this may open your eyes as to how big servers can be?

  Forum Editor 19:07 02 Sep 2004

has server installations that would make your mind reel - they have some of the worlds's heaviest traffic loads and their servers are running flat out, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A point worth making here is that a web server is a slightly different animal to the business network servers mentioned by some of the other contributors. Web servers, and software that runs on them, often have to deal with heavier traffic peaks than the average network server, and many of them run some very specialised sites indeed. Our site is fairly complex by 'normal' internet standards, and our traffic levels can at times be very high. Couple that with thousands of page requests - each one requiring some hefty database activity - every minute of the day, and often late into the night, and you have the potential for the odd problem.

I'm not making excuses - we aim to provide you with a professionally operated forum - but we don't have a huge full-time staff monitoring the server. This is a free resource - I know I've said it ad nauseam, but I'm saying it again- and we have to exist ob advertising revenue. We moved the site to a new server this spring, and performance improved. We've been seeing a few gremlins appear recently, but we're tweaking the database configuration, and it'll take some settling.

Servers are nothing more than computers that do a specialised job. Some of them are very big and powerful and others less so. In the main they're extremely reliable - most server problems are software related.

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