What’s a Server OS?

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A server operating system is designed to run multi-user programs, networked applications, and business computing programs. It is important to consider factors such as cost, hardware requirements, bundled applications, security, and administrative tools when choosing a server operating system. Stability and availability of crucial applications are also important. Security can be improved by setting up dedicated servers to handle specific requests.

A server operating system is software specifically developed to serve as a platform for running multi-user computer programs, networked applications, and critical business computing programs. This type of operating system (OS) is often bundled with the most common types of applications implemented in the client-server model, a term used to refer to the exchange of information between computers. For example, a hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) or web server hosts or “holds” the text files, image files, and scripts that work together to form a website. When someone connects to the Internet and types a web address, the server that contains the site’s files delivers or “serves” the requested pages to the client computer or to the machine that made the request.

Frequently used applications in the client-server model handle the tasks of sharing files and printers over a network, hosting and serving web pages over the Internet, terminal services, and sending and receiving e-mail. This type of processing may be necessary when there is a need or desire to host one’s website locally when a domain is owned, to establish an intranet to disseminate information and allow communication strictly between employees of a company, to allow multiple computers to share a common printer or to set up a network drive where files are stored and accessible by a select group of people. The server operating system is the platform on which applications run to perform each of these operations.

There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a server operating system. They include determining how much money you can afford to spend, system hardware requirements, applications that are included or “bundled” with the software, hardware and system power, security, scalability, available administrative tools, and options to install third-party programs. Consideration of administrative tools and knowing how to use them is also important because a server operating system does not tend to be as easy to use as non-commercial, single-user systems are.

If the number of requests that client computers will make to the server is very large, avoiding downtime requires a very powerful server that can run on hardware with very large storage capacity and multiple processors. Other hardware considerations are dictated by the specific server operating system you choose. Stability is also of utmost importance; if a web server hosting a commercial website goes down, a company’s sales could plummet and affect profits. The consideration of the availability of crucial applications that can run under the server operating system is also very important because if what you need is not included, there will be a need to install third-party programs to meet computing needs such as business email management.

Security is also of great importance when choosing and working with a server operating system. One way to reduce the risk of attacks is to set up so-called dedicated servers, which are platforms dedicated to handling only one type of request from client computers. For example, a mail server would only process requests related to sending and receiving company mail; it would not be involved in handling the multiple requests that can be generated by computers sharing a common printer. Sometimes, information technology (IT) specialists even set up one server to handle incoming mail and another to handle outgoing mail.

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