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What’s the Difference Between Host and Server?

host and server
Though the terms host and server are often used interchangeably, both are not the same and are two different things.

What is a Host?

A host is a device that is connected to other similar devices or computers on a network.

A device like a laptop, computer, or smartphone, that connects to the network is a host. A network is made up of multiple devices and each device will have an IP address. This device will contain software that allows it to communicate with other hosts over the network. All devices in the network will have an IP address that will help identify that particular device in the network. When one host needs to communicate with another device, the data reaches the correct designation using the IP address of the device with which it wishes to communicate. At times, hosts use hostnames instead of IP addresses to communicate over the network, in which case the DNS will convert the hostname to an IP address.

What is a Server?

A server is a hardware or software that serves information to other computers in a network.

A hardware or software that serves other devices in a network is a server. All the devices to which the server offers service may not be a host and the term used to denote devices using the services is “client.” This client can be hardware or software. A server has the capacity to connect and serve multiple clients. Similarly, a single client can connect to multiple servers and receive services. You can run the server and the client on the same device or you can also choose to have the server on a separate device.

Web servers, proxy servers, email servers, application servers, and communication servers are a few common types of servers. From storing data to sharing resources, servers offer a lot of services.

Different Types of Servers

  • Email Server
  • Web Server
  • Proxy Server
  • Application Server
  • Communication Server

Email Server

Email servers are those that send electronic messages on the web. These mail servers also forward outgoing emails to the corresponding recipient. Every time an email is sent, it passes through multiple email servers before it reaches the recipient. It might look like the email is sent immediately, but in fractions of seconds, the email you send passes through different servers and reaches its destination.

Web Server

Web servers serve HTML files or pages to browsers. Web servers store and deliver web pages upon request from users. Most web pages include images, style sheets, HTML documents, and more. In simple terms, you will need a computer to run a website and that computer that is used to run a website is a web server.

Proxy Server

A proxy server is more like a gateway between the user and the internet. This is an intermediary server that separates end-users from websites they visit. Based on your requirements and use case, proxy servers offer different levels of security and privacy. These proxy servers prevent hackers from attacking private networks. Proxy servers also help build firewalls.

Application Server

Application servers run applications. This type of server has the hardware and software that allow programs to run. The main role of application servers is to deliver static and dynamic content.

Communication Server

Communication servers handle communication-based applications. These servers offer communication services for those who wish to transfer files on a network. Communication servers offer communication channels for single or multiple users. This is based on the hardware and software capabilities of the server.

Wrapping Up

While the basic difference between a host and a server is that a server is a software or hardware that offers services to other devices in a network, a host is a device that connects to other devices in a network. Now that you know the difference between a host and a server, you might have understood that to have an efficient network, you will need both a server and a host.

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