A computer that delivers Web pages to browsers and other files to applications via the HTTP protocol. It includes the hardware, operating system, Web server software, TCP/IP protocols and site content (Web pages and other files). If the Web server is used internally and not by the public, it may be called an "intranet server."
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"Web server" may refer to just the software and not the entire computer system. In such cases, it refers to the HTTP server (IIS, Apache, etc.) that manages requests from the browser and delivers HTML documents and files in response. It also executes server-side scripts (CGI scripts, JSPs, ASPs, etc.) that provide functions such as database searching and e-commerce.
One Computer or Thousands
A single computer system that provides all the Internet services for a department or a small company would include the HTTP server (Web pages and files), FTP server (file downloads), NNTP server (newsgroups) and SMTP server (mail service). This system with all its services could be called a Web server. In ISPs and large companies, each of these services could be in a separate computer or in multiple computers. A datacenter for a large public Web site could contain hundreds and thousands of Web servers.
Web Servers Are Built Into Everything
Web servers are not only used to deliver Web pages. Web server software is built into numerous hardware devices and functions as the control panel for displaying and editing internal settings. Any network device, such as a router, access point or print server may have an internal Web server (HTTP server), which is accessed by its IP address just like a Web site. Contrast with Web client. See application server and embedded Web server.
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