Shared server, VPS, Cloud or Dedicated?
“The server has fallen, the server does not work, that is the fault of the server …” You will have heard these phrases many times and the fact is, it is always easy to blame the computer scientist. But computer scientists also tend to blame another apparently abstract entity, “the server.”
At Loopeando.com we explain what it is, what it does and the types there are so that, next time, you will know if you are being teased!
When I type a url I am accessing another computer that may be on the other side of the world.
When I type a url in my browser, what I’m actually doing is accessing another computer, which may be in my neighborhood or on the other side of the world, which will be the one to send me the data from the website that I have requested, and my browser recompose those data showing me the page already formed.
That computer that I have accessed to send me the requested website is called a server. But the program installed on that computer is also called a server and that is what the web has served me.
The following scheme explains it visually:
A device asks for something (for example, a website)
This request reaches the computer that stores that something (the server)
The program installed on that server extracts the requested data, and sends that data (programming code, in this example) back to the device that requested it. That program is also called a server, in this case, a web server.
The browser of my device, recomposes the received code, and transforms it into a visual image, the web page.
But in addition to websites, we can also request emails, upload files, etc. Depending on what we request, there are different types of servers and, in fact, we can be, together with hundreds of people, using a computer where someone else is doing their daily work, such as updating this blog.
If you want to know more details about what a server is, the types of servers there are, and how to access them, we recommend reading on!
Summary of Contents
What is a server?
What is a server?
The word server refers to the person serving, servicing, or operating an artifact.
Applied to computing, server is exactly that: it is the element that serves or provides a service, and based on this, we can distinguish two different applications of the same word:
Server referred to hardware: It is a computer, integrated into a network, that acts as a service host (display web pages, store files, make e-mail work, etc.). In English it is also known as “host”.
Any computer can become a server, although the servers that we usually use on the internet have certain special characteristics, since in addition to the specific software that allows them to offer services such as those mentioned, they are usually very powerful machines that are switched on 24 hours, 365 days. year.
Server referred to software: It is a computer program, which enables a very specific function, so that other programs (clients) that access it through the Internet or a Lan Network, can make use of this function.
For example: An email server would be a software that enables the mail service, so that other programs, which would be the mail managers (such as Outlook), could access it and receive and send emails.
Usually, the software servers are installed on the hardware server or, if the network is prepared to receive a large number of visits, the software servers tend to be placed on different hardware servers to avoid that a possible specific problem disables all services to all customers at once.
In addition, in the same way that a hardware server must be always on so that we can access it at any time, the software servers are permanently waiting, unless we send them a request.
Therefore, there are as many software servers as types of services that are enabled, and the main ones are mentioned in the next point.
As the word server has two meanings, we will also separate them here:
As we have commented, a hardware server is nothing more than a computer but, as not everyone can afford to have such a powerful computer on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and under surveillance in case any problem happens, that the web does not stop working, rent is usually used.
This rental is offered by the so-called hosting services and its cost usually varies depending on the components that we have assigned (amount of RAM, disk, processor power …) and the use that is given to the machine. Depending on the latter, a server can be:
Shared server: It is one that is not only dedicated to serving customer requests (remember that by customers we mean programs that are accessed remotely), but physically there may be a person working at that terminal.
Another meaning of shared server, would be one in which there is not necessarily a worker in it, but its components are rented to several tenants. So that the users who access your website are not the only ones who consume the RAM or the microprocessor of your server, but are shared among other third-party websites, and depending on the demand for resources requested by the processes they are running, you can resent the performance of yours.
These servers, logically are the cheapest, and are usually dedicated to testing or to people who are just starting out in the web world and whose projects are not going to receive considerable amounts of visitors.
Dedicated server: It is the machine that has all its resources dedicated to serving customer requests.
As in the previous case, there is a second meaning: It is one whose resources are only used by you and by the users who access your / your web / s.
This type of servers, more expensive, means that in practice you have an exclusive computer rental, which is located in a data center that monitors that everything works correctly 24 hours a day.
It is usually the option chosen for people whose websites (because they usually host several of their own) are going to receive a large amount of traffic and / or need to make use of certain techniques that consume a lot of resources, such as email marketing.
VPS: It means “Private Virtual Server”, and is the intermediate stage between the previous two.
Although you share the server with other lessors, through software you are guaranteed the use of the resources that you have contracted. So if you want to increase the RAM, or the hard disk, you are freed, through software, the use of more resources.
In cost and benefits it is also the intermediate stage: More expensive than the shared one, but cheaper than the dedicated one. Without as much maneuverability as the latter, but without being affected by vulnerabilities that may have occurred on the websites of other lessors.
Cloud hosting: It works like a VPS, since it is a virtual machine, not a complete computer. But unlike this one, it is not a portion of a physical server, but of many different servers. So if one of the servers from which it is taking a part falls, your website would not suffer.
But that is not the main reason to hire a Cloud hosting, but its elasticity. A Cloud reacts in real time and automatically to the traffic demands of each moment, that is: If you launch a promotional campaign and manage to attract a large number of audiences, your Cloud would increase its resources by taking them from other machines that at that time they are not using them, and as soon as traffic returns to normal, it will give up those resources it has borrowed.
We advanced that there are as many software servers as services are enabled. The most common are:
Web server: Serves requests to load websites (accepting or denying them) and serves the browser the code that generates them. This communication is done through the HTTP and HTTPS protocols. The most popular web server is Apache, and it is open source.
File server: It is the one that facilitates that the files can be uploaded to the disks of the hardware server, either to store them in the cloud or because they are part of a web. The most common protocols to carry out this transfer are FTP, SFTP and FTPS.
E-mail server: It is the one that manages the sending and receiving of mails, and does it in two parts, being the sending in charge of the SMTP protocol and the reception or synchronization with the server in charge of the POP or IMAP protocols.
Database server: A website is not only made up of files with code, but usually stores part of its content in databases (passwords, user accounts, personal addresses …). This server makes it easier for client programs to access said content and serve it through requests from the web server.
DNS server: It is the server that is in charge of associating a domain, for example loopeando.com, with a hosting (the place where the web files are). So when a url is typed, the system redirects to the hardware server that stores them, which allows us to change the domain of a website so that although the website is the same, it is accessed through another url. It also allows the opposite, that a url points to files on another hardware server or in a specific folder. And why would anyone want to do that? Well, let’s imagine that one of the files on our website is damaged, but I have taken the precaution of having a copy of the files in a security folder. I could make someone write the url of my website point to that security folder while I repair the file. If you are interested in the subject, we recommend you read: What are DNS, types and how to configure them?
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