A server is a software or hardware offering a service to a user, usually referred to as client. A hardware server is a shared computer on a network, usually powerful and housed in a data center. A software server (often running on a hardware server) is a program that provides services to client programs or a user interface to human clients.

Services are provided generally over local area networks or wide area networks such as the internet. A client program and server program traditionally connect by passing messages encoded using a protocol over an API.

For example:

  • An Internet-connected Web server is sending a HTML file to your browser software so that you can read this page
  • Local area network server for file, name, mail, print, and fax
  • Minicomputers, mainframes, and super computers at data centers

See also