Server Examples: The 3 Versions Powering the Internet (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Server Examples: The 3 Versions Powering the Internet (2023)

Server Examples

Imagine you’re in a bustling train station. Passengers come and go, luggage is transferred, and announcements are made. The station master ensures that everything runs on schedule. That station master, in the online world, would be a server. Hop on the digital express as we dive into the interesting world of servers.


A server is a powerful computer that stores, manages, and distributes data to other computers, or ‘clients,’ on its network. It’s like a digital librarian, coordinating the flow of information within an online community.

Example 1 – Web Server: A web server is like an ever-efficient waiter, serving web pages to users upon their request. It handles the requests of web users transmitted via HTTP and serves up the appropriate web pages in response. Web servers are the backbone of the internet as we know it.

Example 2 – Database Server: Picture a vast, digital vault, storing an incredible amount of data. This is a database server. It houses databases and responds to requests from client machines to fetch or manipulate this data. It’s the brain behind online data management, enabling us to order food, book flights, or even check the weather.

Example 3 – Mail Server: Acting as a post office in the digital landscape, a mail server receives, sends, and stores email. When you send an email, it is the mail server that ensures your message is delivered to the correct mailbox. From personal messages to professional communication, mail servers keep the lines of digital communication open.

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Server Examples – In-depth

The Digital Waiter: Unveiling the Web Server

Picture yourself sitting in your favorite restaurant, menu in hand. You scan through the variety of dishes, your taste buds tingling in anticipation. Once you’ve made your choice, you relay your order to a waiter. With a nod, the waiter zips back into the kitchen, retrieves your dish, and delivers it to your table. This, in essence, is what a web server does.

In the digital restaurant of the internet, a web server plays the role of our trusted waiter. It diligently awaits requests from web users (like you and me), fetches the required data (in this case, web pages), and serves it up for our viewing pleasure.

When you type a URL (like into your browser, that’s like placing an order. Your browser sends the order to the web server where the website is hosted. The server, acting like our trusty waiter, springs into action. It finds the appropriate page, and sends it back to the browser, which then displays the page on your screen.

But what’s cooking behind the scenes? Let’s take a peek in the kitchen.

HTML: The Chef’s Secret Recipe

The main ingredient for most web pages is HTML (HyperText Markup Language). This is the standard language for creating web pages and web applications. Think of it as the recipe the web server’s chef (the developer) uses to whip up a tasty web page.

When a web server receives a request for a web page, it doesn’t just send the HTML text. It also sends a bunch of instructions on how to display the page. This is usually in the form of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript, which provide the aesthetic design and interactive functionality of the web page, respectively. It’s like the garnishing on your favorite dish, making it look appealing and taste even better.

An Orchestra of Information: HTTP and HTTPS

How does the waiter know where to deliver the dish? In the digital world, this is handled by HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) or its secure version HTTPS. They are the communication protocols that allow data transfer on the web.

HTTP is like the address on a letter, directing the information to the right place. HTTPS, on the other hand, not only directs the information but also ensures it arrives securely. It’s the equivalent of sending a precious parcel via certified mail, complete with tracking and insurance.

Feeding the Multitudes: Handling Traffic

The best waiters can handle multiple tables at once. Likewise, a powerful web server can handle thousands (or even millions) of requests simultaneously, serving up web pages to a multitude of users all over the world. This is akin to the busiest restaurants serving customers efficiently during the dinner rush.

In the grand restaurant of the internet, web servers are indeed the unsung heroes, the diligent waiters who ensure our browsing experience is smooth, efficient, and enjoyable. So, the next time you click on a link or type in a URL, take a moment to appreciate the complex processes and tireless servers that bring the digital world to your fingertips.

The Digital Vault Keeper: Exploring the Database Server

Picture the largest bank vault you can imagine. Rows upon rows of safety deposit boxes, each filled with precious treasures and valuable documents. At the center of this intricate system stands the bank manager, armed with the keys and the knowledge to locate and retrieve any box upon request. This, in essence, is the role of a database server in the digital landscape.

A database server is essentially a server that houses a database—a structured set of data. But it’s not just a storage unit. It’s a sophisticated system that handles requests from clients to fetch, insert, update, or delete data. It’s the pivotal point in any data transaction, akin to the bank manager who controls access to the contents of the vault.

When you log into an application, for instance, to check your bank balance, your request is sent to the database server. This server, like our diligent bank manager, verifies your credentials, retrieves your account details from the database, and sends them back to the application, which then displays the information on your screen.

So, how does this incredible process work? Let’s unlock the secrets of the database server.

SQL: The Key to the Vault

At the heart of most database servers lies a powerful language: SQL (Structured Query Language). Think of SQL as the set of keys our bank manager uses. Each specific key (or SQL command) can open a specific box (or manipulate a specific piece of data).

For instance, SQL commands like ‘SELECT,’ ‘INSERT,’ ‘UPDATE,’ and ‘DELETE’ allow the server to retrieve, add, modify, or remove data in the database. It’s as if the bank manager can use a ‘SELECT’ key to view the contents of a box, an ‘INSERT’ key to add more treasures, an ‘UPDATE’ key to rearrange them, and a ‘DELETE’ key to remove them.

Transactions: The Flow of Data

Database servers aren’t just static vaults. They’re bustling hubs of data transactions. Every time you place an online order, send an email, or even like a post on social media, you’re initiating a data transaction.

Each transaction is like a customer walking into the bank to access their safety deposit box. The bank manager (database server) must handle each request efficiently and accurately, ensuring that every client gets what they need.

Concurrency and ACID Properties: Ensuring Order Amidst Chaos

But what happens when multiple customers want to access their safety deposit boxes at the same time? Or if a power outage occurs in the middle of a transaction? This is where the ACID properties come into play: Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability.

Atomicity ensures that each transaction is treated as a single unit, which either succeeds completely or fails completely. Consistency makes sure the database remains in a valid state before and after any transaction. Isolation ensures that each transaction is securely and independently processed to avoid data conflicts. Finally, Durability guarantees that once a transaction is committed, it will remain so, even in the event of a power loss, crash, or error.

In the grand bank of data, the database server plays a critical role. It’s the gatekeeper, the manager, and the protector of our digital treasures. So, the next time you open an app or visit a website, spare a thought for the silent workhorse, the database server, tirelessly managing the flow of information.

The Digital Postmaster: Unpacking the Mail Server

Imagine a bustling post office in the heart of a city. Letters and packages pour in from every corner of the world, and each piece of mail is carefully sorted, stored, and dispatched to its rightful recipient. At the helm of this immense operation is the postmaster, the key figure who ensures that everything runs like clockwork. In the realm of digital communication, a mail server plays the role of this indispensable postmaster.

A mail server is essentially a virtual post office for our emails. It handles the receiving, processing, and delivery of email messages. Each time you hit “send” on an email, you’re entrusting your digital letter to the mail server, confident that it will reach its intended recipient, whether they’re in the next room or halfway around the globe.

So, how does a mail server manage this remarkable task? Let’s peel back the envelopes and examine the inner workings of this digital postmaster.

SMTP, POP3, and IMAP: The Postal Protocols

Like the various procedures followed in a post office, mail servers operate using specific protocols or rules. The most crucial of these are SMTP, POP3, and IMAP.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is like the mail carrier. It’s responsible for sending emails from the sender’s mail server to the recipient’s mail server. It’s the trusted postal worker who picks up your letter from the post office and ensures it gets to the right mailbox.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) are the protocols that help you retrieve your emails from the mail server, much like visiting the post office to collect your mail. The difference between the two lies in where your emails are stored. POP3 downloads your emails to your device and often deletes them from the server, whereas IMAP leaves the original message on the server, allowing you to access your emails from multiple devices.

Spam Filter: The Gatekeeper

Just as a vigilant postmaster screens out junk mail, a mail server employs spam filters to protect users from unwanted emails. This vital function ensures that our inboxes remain uncluttered, letting through only the relevant and necessary correspondence.

These filters work using a variety of criteria, such as checking the sender’s reputation or scanning for specific words and patterns typical of spam emails. It’s as if the postmaster can spot a dubious-looking parcel or a scammy sales letter a mile away and keeps it out of your mailbox.

The Unsung Hero of Digital Communication

In the vast world of online communication, mail servers are the unsung heroes. They work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that every email—be it a heartfelt message to a loved one, an important business proposal, or a casual chat with a friend—reaches its destination.

So, the next time you send or receive an email, remember the incredible journey it has embarked upon. It’s been accepted, sorted, and delivered by the digital equivalent of a postmaster—the reliable, hardworking mail server.


Navigating the bustling train station of the internet, we’ve encountered the diligent station masters of the digital world—servers. We’ve stepped into the shoes of the waiter-like web server, dined at the banquet of data served by the vault-keeper-like database server, and had our messages delivered by the postmaster-like mail server.

These silent heroes keep the digital world ticking, from the websites we browse to the emails we send and the data we access. So, the next time you venture into the online realm, spare a thought for these unsung heroes. Servers might be machines, but they are the heartbeat of our digital lives.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the main difference between a web server and a database server?

A web server primarily deals with serving web pages to users upon their request, handling the communication between a client (like a web browser) and itself. On the other hand, a database server stores, retrieves, and manages data in a database. It handles requests to access or manipulate this data. In essence, while both are servers, they handle different types of data and requests.

Why do we need different types of servers?

Different types of servers perform different tasks. Web servers handle requests for web pages, database servers manage data transactions, and mail servers control the sending and receiving of emails. Each server type is optimized to perform its specific task efficiently, ensuring smooth operation of our digital activities.

Are servers only used by large businesses or are they relevant for personal use as well?

While it’s true that servers are a vital part of any business’s IT infrastructure, they are not limited to corporate use. Anyone with an email account, for example, interacts with a mail server. If you have a personal website, it’s hosted on a web server. Even storing files in a cloud service involves interacting with a server. So, servers are everywhere in our digital lives, whether we’re aware of them or not.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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