How Do Web Servers Work?

14.06.2019

By: Drew Germyn

Categories: Hosting Servers, Technology

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

At Localnode, we offer first-class hosting on a superior network, but what does that mean? Our clients come to us because they know we provide reliable service and top-notch support, but many of them don’t understand how a web server works – or why choosing the right hosting company is essential.
 
We think every company should understand what a web server does, and the role servers play in their ability to do business. Here’s what you need to know.
 

What Do Web Servers Do?

 
Let’s start by reviewing the work that web servers do. They serve an important purpose on the worldwide web. Without them, you couldn’t host a website, send an email, create a blog post, or accept payment from your clients.
 
The most essential job of a web server is to store, process, and deliver web pages to users. The server responds when a user enters a web address into a browser or clicks a link.
 
The server monitors requests for web pages via ports, and when it receives a new request, it responds quickly to deliver the page that’s been requested. Servers work behind the scenes to verify each request, gather the data and elements that make up a website and deliver the information back to the user’s web browser.
 
This request-and-response process is at the heart of what a server does. However, it’s also responsible for displaying the assembled data (i.e., the requested web page) to the user who requested it.
 
Web browsers and servers communicate using either TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or IP (Internet Protocol), both of which require HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol.) In most cases, the pages are delivered as HTML content.  HTTP ensures seamless communication between the user’s web browser and the server.
 
DNS (Domain Name System) technology enables different browsers to connect to various types of servers and server configurations. It works by translating the URLs into numerical addresses.
 
Servers are also responsible for delivering error messages if the URL entered doesn’t exist or if a link is no longer active.
 
Here’s how a server works, step by step:

  1. A user requests a specific web page via a web browser.
  2. The web browser requests a full URL for the site to be displayed, transmitting the information via the server.
  3. The web server locates the information needed to display the site being requested and assembles it. This may include regular web content plus ads and dynamic elements.
  4. The web server transmits the complete packet of information back to the web browser as a response.
  5. The web browser receives the requested information and displays it on the user’s screen.

 
Web servers are what enable users to visit your website and interact with you online.
 

What Technology Do Servers Use?

 
Some servers handle thousands of requests each minute. As a result, they used specialised technology to do what they need to do.
 
The first technology you need to know about is RAID, which stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, or sometimes, Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. RAID technology uses multiple hard drives that work at the same time by copying or mirroring data (or both) to ensure that a backup is always available. At Localnode, we use a RAID-10 configuration, which copies and mirrors data. We feel that it offers the best combination of speed and security to our first-class hosting clients. There are alternatives to RAID technology, including desktop grade hardware and erasure technology.
 
Servers rely on superior hardware to work. Localnode’s servers use Solid State Drives (SSDs) to ensure fast, efficient, and reliable data access and storage for our clients. Each one of our servers has:

  • Dual XEON processors
  • 128 GB+ of DDR4 RAM
  • Supermicro motherboards
  • 1GBPS ports

 
RAM, or Random Access Memory, allows a user’s computer to store information they need immediately or in the near future. It’s much faster than the storage on a computer’s hard drive. It may be helpful to think of RAM as a short-term memory for your computer. It’s where you get the information you need quickly.
 
What every good server must have to work is a fast CPU or central processor. The CPU is a small chip that sits on top of a computer’s motherboard. It’s responsible for performing basic functions and processes. It also “assigns” jobs to other chips in a computer.
 
Finally, the motherboard is the central circuit board of a server. It allows communication between the CPU and memory, as well as connecting other crucial components of the server.
 
So, to sum up, a server uses several of these important pieces of technology:

  1. RAID storage, which stores multiple versions of data on different drives, which provides both speed and security – even if one of the drives in the array malfunctions; or a RAID alternative.
  1. A motherboard, which connects the CPU, memory, and other components of the server together.

 
These things all work together to ensure that a server performs to its capacity and delivers responses to requests quickly and accurately.
 

Are There Different Types of Servers?

 
As you might expect, there’s more than one kind of server available. The three most common are:

  • Application servers, which provide an operational setting for web applications. They work by delivering the applications a user wants when they request them. They can interface with other kinds of servers to deliver the app and its elements to a user.
  • Database servers handle background tasks such as data storage and archiving. They hold and deliver the information needed by other servers and services.
  • Web servers are the servers we’ve already talked about. They deliver content to users using HTTP.

 
Computers use and communicate with each one of these three types of servers to allow users to access applications and software, store necessary information, and navigate to web pages.
 

Why Are Web Servers Important?

 
When you choose a first-class hosting provider, you want to be confident that they’re using superior hardware and superior software on a superior network. Your hosting provider should use state-of-the-art servers that will deliver your web content quickly and accurately. A reliable web server is the cornerstone of any online business.
 
To learn about Localnode’s first-class hosting and how our servers can help you run your business efficiently, please click here now.

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