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Article · Jan 15, 2016

Ask a Carbonista: What is a server?

Ask a Carbonista: What is a server?

If you’re a small business owner you’ve probably heard the term “server” thrown around a lot by your IT pro. It’s one of the most commonly used but least commonly explained concepts in small business IT.

Put simply a server is a computer, usually much larger and more powerful than your laptops or desktops, that provides (or “serves up”) data to other smaller computers (such as those laptops and desktops) in a network.

Servers usually store large amounts of data that multiple people in a company use, such as email, financial data, databases, etc. Typically a server will be referred to by whatever data it is storing or processing. So an Exchange server is a server that is running Exchange, a file server is a server that holds important files, and a SharePoint server is a computer running Microsoft SharePoint for your company.

Servers almost never have a monitor or keyboard and are usually accessed remotely by another computer on the network. You may hear your IT person talk about “remoting in” or “accessing the server remotely.” This just means that they are using another computer to see what’s going on inside the server.

Since servers provide a different kind of computing than your workstations (laptops and desktops) they also require a different kind of backup. For servers, it’s important to have image-based backup and recovery since they tend to have a lot more data on them. Image-based backups allow you to restore data more quickly following a data loss event or some other kind of digital disaster. They should also provide backup for whatever databases your company is using and provide both local and cloud backup. (The combination of local and cloud backup is often referred to as “hybrid backup.” Local backup provides a much quicker recovery than cloud backup. But cloud backup provides the ultimate in protection by ensuring that your data is stored safely off premises.

Have any questions about your server and how to protect it? Call up our business specialists at (855) 222-5488 or email us at and they’ll be happy to help you!

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Ryan Harnedy

IT Community Manager

Ryan Harnedy is the IT Community Manager for Carbonite. He blogs about technology, IT trends, and best practices for SMB IT pros.

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