What is a server?


A server is a computer program or device that provides a service to another computer program and its user, also known as the client.


A server is like an apartment building. It is the infrastructure that allows the apartment to exist. The building provides lighting, gas, electricity and occupancy space to each apartment.

If everyone who lives in the apartment building tries to enter the front doors at the same time, the apartment building may not be able to handle that as well as another building with larger doors. If each apartment is over maximum occupancy, the apartment building may not properly serve its people.

So, as the building owner, you either need to improve the building infrastructure to accommodate the quantity of people or you buy a new building to serve more residents.

As the building owner, you need to know the limitations as to what your apartment building can serve.

In other words:

Servers are the physical computers that allow your websites to live on the internet. When something lives on the cloud, that just means that it is not on a local or private server and instead is on a server that is shared by numerous others.

Why is a server important?

It's one thing to know what a term means, but that is worthless if you don't know why you should know what a server is in the first place. Let's break down the importance of this tech term based on two high level categories. We'll walk through an explanation as well as provide a score, 1-10, that shows you how much you should care about servers.

Pre-Product: 5/10

The first will be if you do not have a product yet. This means that you don't have a physical product. Maybe you're in the ideation phase, or maybe you're almost ready to start development. Whichever it is, we'll get into why a server is important and why you should or shouldn't care about it if you do not have a product.

It is important that you are familiar with what a server does and why you need one. In order to launch a product, you need to connect to a server. You can use one of the standard options (AWS, GCP, Azure) but you should plan ahead to determine which server you will be using and understand why you have chosen that provider.

Live Product: 7/10

The second category is if you do have a live product. Maybe you just launched your business or maybe it's been live for years and you're continuing to improve its quality. Regardless of the scenario, if your product is live, a server carries a different weight.

Once your product is live, it is important to know what server you are using as you will be paying for its services! Server costs can get expensive if you don't maintain them, so ensure that you keep an eye out on your server, have optimized it properly, and are keeping your monthly costs down as much as possible (TIP: shoot us an email for insights as to how to get free server credits).

Examples of servers

So you know what a server is, by definition. You know if you should care about it or not depending on your situation as a business/company/product. To dig in deeper, we will walk through some examples so we can make sure you really have a solid grasp on servers.

Five most popular servers:

We're going to walk through some of the most commonly utilized servers. According to Web3Techs Surveys, here is a breakdown of the top 5 servers used around the world as of May, 2022:

  1. Nginx - 34.1%
  2. Apache - 31.3%
  3. Cloudflare - 21.6%
  4. Litespeed - 12.3%
  5. Microsoft IIS - 5.9%

In total, there are over 10,000 server providers around the world...that is a lot of providers to try and search through. While you don't have to use these providers, they are a good place to start your search!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Servers are the physical computers that allow your websites to live on the internet.
  2. If you don't have a product yet, start to plan ahead so you know which server you will choose.
  3. If you do have a product, it is important to know what server you are using.
  4. There are over 10,000 server providers around the world, with a handful that are the commonly used options.
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