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A server is 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 an 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

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Last updated by: sideshowbarker,