Nowadays most businesses use technology to make operations efficient. Businesses daily feed in loads of data to their systems to ensure a faster pace of work. But did you ever think about where this data goes (and comes from)? A server is a place where all the data of a website is stored securely and can be accessed as and when needed.
A server plays a vital role in improving the operations of any business. If the server is strong and advanced, then storing and accessing data can be achieved conveniently. All you need to do is opt for a good quality server and install it properly.
What is a Server?
A server is a computer that collects, sends, and manages data. It is the data center for computers connected to the same network. So, when you are setting up an IT infrastructure, a server is one of the most vital components in the setup.
How Does a Server Function?
Every time you click on a URL while surfing the internet, you are sending a command to the server to display the data which you wish to view. So, when you click something on the internet, your computer communicates with the server and then pulls out the requested data from the server.
In a nutshell, the server serves as the data provider for your computer. Let’s look at the steps in which a server functions:
Step 1 – When you open your web browser, the first thing you need to do is type the URL in the address bar.
Step 2 – Once you type the URL, the web browser requests the site to give the full URL. Once the site gives permission, then the full URL access is given to the web browser.
Step 3 – Once the approval to access the full URL is given, the information is then sent to the server.
Step 4 – As per the URL, the server checks its memory and displays the data which is requested by the web browser.
Step 5 – Once your web browser receives the data from the server, it then displays the contents on your screen.
Types of Servers
It is a common misconception that when we talk about servers, people assume that all servers are the same. But the truth is, there are various types of servers available in the market which specialize in specific roles.
1. Email Server
Normally, people use 2 kinds of email services. The first one is web-based programs and the other is computer-based programs. Web-based programs refer to emails like Gmail and Yahoo. The other email program that most businesses use is computer-based programs like Outlook.
Outlook uses an email server to send and receive emails. When you are using an email and see references to POP, IMAP and SMTP, then you are using a third-party email server.
2. Web Server
Web servers store information about websites. A web server stores content like text, videos, photos, animations, etc. When you request a website to display its content, basically you are commanding the web server to display the contents of the requested URL.
When you are surfing the internet, downloading some sort of content, etc. then you are interacting with the webserver. Even when you are accessing data via the cloud, it is the web server that stores the data.
3. Print Server
When you print files from your printer via WiFi, then the print server manages the entire printing process.
4. Proxy Server
Proxy servers are third-party servers that act as intermediaries between a person’s computer and the main server. Proxy servers help in filtering out content, speed up loading time, improve traffic, et cetera. A proxy server also acts as one of the best methods to avoid unauthorized access and this helps to keep the data safe.
5. Game Server
When you play an online game you are using a game server to play the game. Online games are stored in servers and when a person wants to access the game, the game server releases the contents of the game.
So, if your online game is taking time to load or there is a lag, then the most common issue is the congestion on the game server. Whether it’s an online computer game or a mobile game, all kinds of online games have their game server.
So, if you are planning to release an online game, make sure that the game server is an advanced one. Good game servers always offer lag-free and quick loading time while playing the game.
6. Streaming Video Server
When you open Netflix on your phone or Amazon Prime on your smart TV to view a movie or series, you are accessing video servers to display the contents. All these streaming platforms own video streaming servers where all the contents of videos, series, etc. are stored.
When we click on a particular movie icon on Netflix or any other streaming platform, we are sending commands to the streaming server to display the contents of the movie or TV series.
Apart from the servers mentioned above, there are also various other servers like file servers, fax servers, chat servers, and audio servers. The list is endless. For any kind of data exchange in the internet world, a server is required to mediate it.
Server Maintenance: Overview
Running a server with minimal glitches requires regular maintenance and service. Just like a car engine requires regular service to perform smoothly and avoid any breakdown, similarly, servers also require regular maintenance to ensure that it does not crash.
If a server is damaged or corrupted, then it will result in huge data losses. It is a fact that every year companies lose millions, or sometimes billions, of dollars due to data losses. Hence, you should always maintain your servers from time to time to ensure that your server does not break down when there is congestion.
Server Maintenance: Is It Important?
Unlike cars, you do not need to change engine oil, brake shoes, coolant, etc. to keep your engine spiked and spanned. But in the case of servers, some amount of maintenance is required to ensure smooth functioning. In servers, normally, you do not need to change hardware so often.
You will never find an engineer, opening parts of the hard drive and oiling the motor parts. The maximum hardware change that a server requires is replacing the fans. Over time, the fans get worn out and their rotational speed reduces, leading to lesser cooling efficiency. So, at the max, you need to change the fans to ensure that your server’s temperature is kept under control.
The thing that needs to be checked regularly is the software. With time, the server incurs large deposits of cache files and records and this slows down the transaction rates. With time, servers also face the issue of SQL table fragmentation.
With time, as more and more transactions take place, the current software becomes outdated, hence transforming the server into an easy target for hackers. The last issue that any server faces is losing the efficiency of hard drives whether it is HDDs or SSDs.
Over time, you also need to replace these hard drives to ensure the smooth functioning of the servers. But it is to be noted that replacement of the hard drives is done when the server has been in an operational mode for a very long time.
What Happens If You Do Not Do Server Maintenance?
When a server starts to degrade, the first issue you will notice is the speed of the server slowing down. In worst-case scenarios, unattended servers can risk data corruption and loss.
With time, if the servers are not maintained, then glitches will show up and slower performance will make your customers unsatisfied. Hence, to ensure that your server is running smoothly, you need to maintain it from time to time.
Types of Server Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, server maintenance is required to ensure that the server runs smoothly. Here are some maintenance methods that will ensure that your server is up to date:
Check Your Servers Daily
The first thing that you should do daily is the updates offered by virus scanners. Keeping your virus scanners updated regularly will ensure zero cyber attacks. Also, check other vital software updates to ensure that the security is top-notch and chances of cyber attacks are minimized.
Also, it is wise to keep a track of the security logs to check if there were any attempts of unauthorized intrusions. With a proper record of these security logs, you can block any user if you suspect any kind of foul play.
Do Weekly Server Checks
Apart from the daily checks, you also need to do some weekly checks to ensure that your server is working up the mark. For weekly maintenance, you need to check 2 things. One is the backup system and the other one is the disk space.
Checking backup systems is not necessary daily. A weekly checkup of the backup system is more than enough to ensure if it is working properly or not. If the backup systems are kept updated all the time, then there is a possibility of data corruption or data loss and the backup system will ensure that no data is lost.
Coming to checking the disk space, it is necessary to check the disk space usage weekly. If your server is running out of storage space, then it will lead to a breakdown. To avoid such mishaps, the above 2 weekly maintenance checks are vital to ensure the smooth running of your servers.
Monthly Server Checks
It is recommended that once a month you should optimize your databases. The rate of database fragmentation goes up by 5% every month, and if it is not kept in check, it will affect the performance of the servers.
Also, it is necessary to keep the applications tuned from time to time because applications that are not optimized will lead to a decrease in the performance of the server.
Real-time Server Checks
Apart from the daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance checks, certain things need to be checked in real-time. You need to track the health data points to ensure that the congestion is not spiking the performance of the server. Noticing these problems early can help avoid server failure.
To smoothen the process of tracking the health of the server, you can use server monitoring tools to automate alerts. With these tools, you can check the CPU temperature, health of RAID volumes, and much more.
How to Change These Checks Into a Proper Plan?
The checks mentioned above will help your server to run smoothly and will reduce the risk of server failure. However, one should follow these checks meticulously to ensure maintenance.
To ensure this, you can create an outline of the daily, weekly, monthly and real-time maintenance checks. Keeping such outlines will act as a guide and this will prevent any missing out of the maintenance schedules.
Emerging Problems: What You Need to Look Out?
Apart from the above maintenance schedule, it is important to be ready for any kind of emerging problem that was not at all forecasted, such as:
Issues with server capacity
It is a known fact that every server has its limitations. But if there is a sudden rise in the traffic, it can lead to a server slowdown. To keep this in check, you will have to keep an eye on the server space usage and utilization.
Watch out for attacks
We live in a world where cyber attacks have become the talk of the day. Any kind of cyber attack on the server will lead to data loss and corruption. And if the search engine thinks your server is not secured, then the ranking of your website will drop drastically. Hence, as a part of server maintenance, you must keep a lookout for any kind of possible cyber attack.
In this post, we have covered almost everything about servers, types of serves and maintenance. Hopefully, this information will be helpful to you and clear your queries regarding servers.
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