A server is a computer that provides data to other computers. It may serve data to systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the Internet.
A server is essentially a computer with software designed to perform a specific “serving” function to other computers. This function can be thousands of different types of serving such as websites, video, music or any other form of data.
A server that is designed and engineered to perform only a few tasks is known as a “dedicated server”. These servers are dedicated to a single task and do that task extremely well.
While servers can run on different types of computers, it is important that the hardware is sufficient to support the demands of the server. For instance, a web server that runs lots of web scripts in real-time should have a fast processor and enough RAM to handle the “load” without slowing down. A file server should have one or more fast hard drives or SSDs that can read and write data quickly. Regardless of the type of server, a fast network connection is critical, since all data flows through that connection.
Many people do not realize they can turn their home computer into a server very easily. They simply need to install software on it to handle specific requests. Once the software is installed, they can then issue requests to their own computer and their own computer will respond properly.