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Types Of Servers and Their Pros and Cons

When it comes to servers, there are a lot of options out there. And with so many options, it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll break down the different types of servers and their pros and cons. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of which server is right for you and your business.

What is a server?

A server is a computer or program that provides a service to another computer or program, known as a client. 

For example, a web server may be responsible for serving web pages and handling HTTP requests from clients.

As you might have guessed, there are many different types of servers, each designed to provide specific services. Some common types of servers include:

Web server

A web server is a computer that stores websites. When you type in a web address, your browser sends a request to the server for the website you want to view. The server then responds by sending the website to your browser.

There are two main types of web servers: Windows and Linux. Each has its own pros and cons. 

Windows servers are typically more expensive than Linux servers. They are also less stable and secure and can be more difficult to manage. However, Windows servers may be a better option for certain businesses because they offer support for Microsoft products and technologies. 

Linux servers are less expensive and more stable than Windows servers. They are also more secure and easier to manage. However, Linux servers may not be a good option for certain businesses because they don’t offer support for Microsoft products and technologies. 


  • Web servers make it possible to host websites and offer online services.
  • Are easy to set up and maintain.
  • They can be used to host multiple websites on a single server.
  • Web servers offer scalability and flexibility.
  • They can be used to offer a variety of services such as email, FTP, and e-commerce.


  • Web servers can be expensive to set up and maintain.
  • They require skilled personnel to manage and administer them.
  • They are often the target of attacks by hackers and viruses.
  • They can be slow and unresponsive at times.
  • They can crash or become unavailable, causing website downtime.

Physical servers

A physical server is a computer that stores website files, applications, and other digital resources and connects them to the internet. Physical servers are usually housed in data centers.


  • More control over the server environment 
  • Greater flexibility in terms of server configuration 
  • Can be used to create “golden images” or templates for easy deployment 
  • Easy to troubleshoot hardware issues 
  • Can be used to test new software or configurations before implementing them on a live system


  • Requires more physical space than virtual servers 
  • Requires more manpower to maintain 
  • If not configured properly, can be less secure than virtual servers 
  • More difficult to scale than virtual servers 
  • Susceptible to environmental hazards such as heat and dust

Virtual servers

Unlike physical servers, a virtual server is a server that doesn’t physically exist. It is created through software, and it behaves like a regular server. 

And you can use a virtual server to run an operating system or host applications.

These types of servers are popular because they’re flexible and easy to set up. You can create as many virtual servers as you need, and you can scale them up or down as your needs change.

Virtual servers are also relatively inexpensive since you don’t have to buy hardware or pay for maintenance. And if something goes wrong with a virtual server, it’s usually easier to fix than a physical one. 


  • You can save on hardware costs by only having one physical server instead of multiple servers.
  • You can utilize your resources more efficiently since you can have multiple virtual servers running on one physical server.
  • Virtual servers are more flexible and easier to scale than physical servers.
  • They are also more secure since each virtual server is isolated from the others.
  • Virtual servers are easier to manage and maintain than physical servers.


  • The initial setup cost for virtualization can be expensive.
  • You need to have a good understanding of virtualization technology to be able to set it up and manage it properly.
  • Virtual servers can be less reliable than physical servers since they are dependent on the hardware of the physical server they are running on.
  • If the physical server goes down, all of the virtual servers will go down as well.
  • Virtual servers can be slower

Application server

An application server is a type of computer system that is designed to process requests made by other computers, known as clients.

They are often used to host web applications, which can be accessed by users through a web browser.

Application servers typically include features such as a web server, an application server, and a database server. 

Here, web servers are used to handle HTTP requests from clients and return HTML pages. Application servers process requests from clients and return data from databases. 

And the database servers store data in a format that can be accessed by the application server.

That said, some common applications that are hosted on application servers include e-commerce websites, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.


  • Offers a central place to manage web applications
  • Enables easier scalability and collaboration
  • Improves performance by caching data and distributing processing power
  • Makes applications more secure with built-in firewalls and intrusion detection
  • Increases uptime with failover capabilities


  • Requires specialized skills and knowledge to set up and maintain
  • Can be expensive to purchase and run
  • May not be necessary for simpler applications
  • Can add complexity and overhead
  • Maybe a single point of failure

Database server

We’ve already touched on this: a database server is a computer system that provides access to a database. It can be either a central server that stores all the data, or a distributed server that shares the data among multiple computers.

See, most database servers use the client/server model, where the client is responsible for sending requests to the server, and the server is responsible for handling those requests. 

The client can be a desktop application, a web application, or even another database server. The server usually runs on a powerful computer with a lot of storage space, so that it can handle large amounts of data.

Now, there are many different types of database servers, each designed for different needs. 

For example, there are relational database servers, which store data in tables and can be used to run applications like customer relationship management (CRM) systems. 

There are also NoSQL database servers, which don’t use tables and are often used for big data applications.


  • A database server can help ensure data is consistently organized and easy to access.
  • Help improve performance by reducing the amount of data that needs to be read from disk.
  • Can provide security features, such as authentication and authorization, to help protect data.
  • Database servers can offer features to help ensure data integrity, such as transactions and referential integrity.
  • Offer scalability features, such as sharding and replication, to help support large data sets or high traffic loads.


  • A database server can be a single point of failure for an application if it is not properly configured or maintained.
  • Can be complex to set up and manage.
  • Require specialized knowledge and skills to administer effectively.
  • The cost of a database server can be prohibitive for some organizations.

File server

A file server stores and shares files between computers on a network. It can be used to store documents, images, music, videos, and other types of files. 

And such servers can be used by individuals or businesses. 

Businesses often use file servers to store important company data. This data can include financial records, customer information, employee records, and more. And can be used to back up this data in case of a computer crash or other disaster. 

On the other hand, individuals can use file servers to store personal files. This can include photos, music, videos, and other types of files. 

And can also be used to back up personal data in case of a computer crash or other disaster. 


  • File servers make it easy to store and access files from anywhere on the network. 
  • They can be used to share files between computers, making collaboration easier. 
  • File servers can be used to back up important data, ensuring that it is safe in case of a computer crash. 
  • They can be used to store large amounts of data that would be too difficult to manage on a single computer. 
  • File servers can be accessed remotely, allowing users to work from anywhere.


  • File servers can be expensive to maintain and manage. 
  • They require skilled personnel to set up and maintain them properly. 
  • They can be complicated to use, and users may need training in order to use them effectively. 
  • If the file server crashes, all of the data stored on it may be lost. 
  • File servers can be a security risk if they are not properly configured and secured.

Print server

As its name suggests, a print server, or printer server, is a type of computer that connects printers to client computers over a network. Print servers can be used to allow multiple users on a network to share one or more printers. 

These types of servers may also be referred to as printer sharing device.

What you may not know is that print servers are available in both wired and wireless versions. Wired print servers typically connect to the network using an Ethernet cable, while wireless print servers connect using Wi-Fi. 

In fact, many print servers also support Bluetooth connections.

Print servers are often used in office environments where there are multiple users who need to be able to print documents. 

This means that each user can have their own printer connected to the server, which can help reduce the amount of time spent waiting for documents to print


  • Allows for centralized printing within an organization 
  • Can increase efficiency by reducing the need for individual printers 
  • Can be less expensive in the long run 
  • Easy to set up and manage 
  • Can be used in conjunction with other network devices


  • Requires initial investment 
  • May require dedicated hardware 
  • Requires ongoing maintenance 
  • Limited flexibility 
  • Scalability can be an issue

Mail server

Just like print server handling printing, a mail server is a computer that handles the incoming and outgoing mail for a domain. Mail servers use a protocol called SMTP to send and receive messages. 

This type of server can be part of an email system that also includes a web server, or it can be a stand-alone system.

Now, there are several different types of mail servers, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

The most common type of mail server is the POP3 server, which stores all of the messages on the local computer. This can be a problem if the computer crashes, as all of the messages will be lost. 

Another type of mail server is the IMAP server, which stores the messages on a remote computer. This is more reliable, as the messages are not stored on the local computer. 

However, it can be slower, as each message must be downloaded from the remote computer when it is read. 


  • Mail servers can provide a central location for email communications. 
  • Offer increased security for email communications. 
  • Can offer increased storage capacity for email communications. 
  • Mail servers can offer enhanced filtering options for email communications. 
  • Mail servers can provide a backup option for email communications.


  • Mail servers can be expensive to maintain. 
  • Require ongoing administration and monitoring. 
  • Can be a target for hackers and other malicious activity. 
  • Mail servers can experience downtime or other technical problems. 
  • Mail servers can be difficult to configure and troubleshoot.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are many different types of servers with a variety of uses. In most cases, the type of server you need will be determined by the size and scope of your business as well as your budget. 

If you’re not sure which type of server is right for you, consult with an IT professional.

While there are many different types of servers, they all serve a similar purpose – to store, process, and deliver data. 

When choosing a server, it’s important to consider your business needs as well as your budget. With so many options available, it’s important to consult with an IT professional to ensure you’re making the best decision for your business. 

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