What exactly is a server?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by yettimillan, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. yettimillan macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    Hi im probably gonna get ripped for this but im still not totally sure what a server is and how it works.

    Could someone fully explain to me please, thanks.

    Oh and this Xserve business.
    To be more specific, do you store data on the individual computers or server?
  2. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601


    Nov 19, 2007
    Georgia, USA

  3. yettimillan thread starter macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    Yh i can but its the complicated mac servers i dont understand.
  4. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    Apple's Xserve is pretty expensive and not really targeted at individual users, but it is really just a file server. It acts like another Mac with file sharing turned on where you can create an account and mount its drive to your Mac. The reason for the high price is that it is designed with redundant hardware so that if anything breaks, it can keep running on a spare until a convenient time to get it repaired. Its local disk drives are configured in RAID arrays so that if a drive dies, its information can be rebuilt based on the information on the other drives. It has hardware support to connect to a Storage Area Network (SAN) to provide even more storage. It has multiple power supplies each with separate power cords. But if you take out all of the complexity from the redundant hardware, file servers are really the least complicated kind of server there is.

    You can duplicate the functionality of an Xserve for home use with a second Mac or Linux computer with file sharing turned on, or even with a dedicated Network Attached Storage (NAS) box you can buy for under $500.
  5. pdjudd macrumors 601

    Jun 19, 2007
    Plymouth, MN
    To add on to what you are saying, Dedicated serves alike the XServe have expenses like they do because they are specialized computing devices intended to go beyond the functionality of what a normal computer can provide. They are powerhouse uinits that perform service related functionality and nothing else behind the scenes.

    As you point out, any computer can function as a server, but you are not going to get the same oomph that dedicated hardware like an Xserve offers. Those babies are targeted to be run in enterprises in dedicated server rooms in a racked enviroment with other servers. They are specialized computing devices. An Xserve is not intended to be a desktop computer - its supposed to be a dedicated box. A normal computer can perform similar tasks that a server (like Xserve) can do, but not on the same level.
  6. NC MacGuy macrumors 603

    NC MacGuy

    Feb 9, 2005
    The good side of the grass.
    Well you sit down at a restaurant or bar and then a guy or gal comes over and asks if you'd like a drink. Then appetizer. Then another drink and dinner. You tell them what you want and they bring it to you. You're supposed to leave an overly gratuitous (18-20%) gratuity on top of your bill if they bring you your cold stuff cold and hot stuff hot and in an expeditious manner. Extra $ if they're cute and chat you up or they're ugly and leave you alone;)
  7. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    just to clarify: you can setup an Xserve to be a file server. but they can also be a web server, print server, iCal and iChat server, mail server, etc. not just a file server.
  8. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    A "server" of course doesn't automatically mean needing an Xserve. Depending on the actual requirements, number of users, and the other equipment in the network, the "server" can be any computer - from an Xserve or full spec Mac Pro, through to a Mac Mini or an old G3 iMac (or even older) ... even a plain old Windows box.

    Usually a server is used to store data files and applications (where allowed by the license) that need to be shared by multiple users, and / or as a backup system for individual user's computers. They can also provide access to shared services like the Internet, USB printers, etc.

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