Is Web Server and Server Same?


Larry Thompson

Is Web Server and Server Same?

When it comes to understanding the technical aspects of web development, it’s important to have a clear understanding of various terms and concepts. Two such terms that are often used interchangeably are “web server” and “server”.

However, they are not exactly the same thing. In this article, we will dive into the differences between these two terms.

What is a Server?

A server is a computer or system that is responsible for managing network resources. It can refer to both the hardware and software components that work together to provide services to other computers or devices on a network. Servers are designed to handle specific tasks such as storing data, hosting websites, managing email systems, or running applications.

Servers can be categorized into different types based on their functionalities:

  • File servers: These servers store and manage files for users on a network.
  • Database servers: These servers manage databases and handle data storage and retrieval.
  • Email servers: These servers handle email communication and manage email accounts.
  • Application servers: These servers run applications and provide services to clients.

What is a Web Server?

A web server is a specific type of server that focuses on hosting websites. It handles requests from clients (usually web browsers) and sends back the requested web pages or files. The primary function of a web server is to deliver web content over the internet or intranet using protocols such as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

A web server stores website files, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, videos, etc., and responds to incoming requests by sending the appropriate resources to the client. It also manages different web technologies such as server-side scripting languages like PHP, Python, or Ruby, and interacts with databases to retrieve dynamic content.

The Relationship Between a Web Server and a Server

Now that we understand what a server and web server are, let’s talk about their relationship. A web server is just one type of server that runs on a larger server system. In other words, a web server is an application that runs on top of a server operating system.

A typical server system can host multiple web servers along with other types of servers like database servers or email servers. These servers work together to provide various services within an organization or for public access over the internet.

Key Differences

Here are some key differences between a web server and a general-purpose server:

  • A web server focuses primarily on hosting websites and delivering web content.
  • A general-purpose server can handle various tasks such as file storage, database management, email communication, and running applications.
  • A web server operates using protocols like HTTP or HTTPS to serve websites over the internet.
  • A general-purpose server may use different protocols based on its functionalities.
  • A web server requires specific software like Apache HTTP Server, Nginx, Microsoft IIS, etc., to function.
  • A general-purpose server can have different operating systems like Windows Server, Linux distributions (such as Ubuntu Server), or Unix-based systems (such as macOS Server).


In summary, while both “web server” and “server” refer to computer systems that provide services to clients over a network, a web server is a specific type of server that focuses on hosting websites and delivering web content. Understanding these differences can help you grasp the technical aspects of web development and system administration more effectively.

Now that you have a clear understanding of the distinctions between a web server and a general-purpose server, you can confidently navigate discussions surrounding these terms in the world of web development.

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