Host vs Server: What These Are & How They Differ

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host vs server

The terms host and server might easily confuse someone who is not tech-savvy. They have two different meanings, but can often get mixed up.

A host is a device that connects to a network, while a server provides services to devices in a network.

But what does that definition tell us? Let’s find out by reading more about what is a host, what is a server, and what are the main points of the host vs server debate.

Key Takeaways

The main difference between a host and a server is that a host is a device which connects to the network, while a server provides services to the connected hosts.

There are 6 main types of web hosts: shared, dedicated, managed, VPS, cloud, and colocation hosting.

The most common server types are web, mail, application, database, and file servers

Now, let’s start discussing the host vs server by going into the definitions.

What Is a Web Host?

A web host is a computer or any device that connects to a network and allows you to interact with other devices on the same network.

Each host has an IP address. Using this address, all hosts in the network can communicate with each other and send each other information.

Communication between hosts is established using a DNS. Domain name systems or DNS identify hosts based on their IP address and route hosts to the correct destination.

What Is a Server?

A server is used for providing services to other devices or users. Servers can be either software or hardware devices. Servers don’t necessarily have to be a host in the network.

When a device is using a server, it is referred to as a client. Servers can provide services to multiple clients at the same time.

Host vs Server: The Major Difference

The main difference between a host and a server is that hosts are the connected devices in a network, and servers are providing services to other programs and devices in the network.

Hosts consume resources in the network that are provided by the servers. They are both required in a network so it can operate efficiently.

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Hosts need an internet connection to connect to a network, and servers can work both in a local area network (LAN) or on the internet.

The Six Types of Web Hosts

In web hosting, there are 6 common types of hosts that are used for hosting websites and applications on the internet. The main difference between the host and the server here is that these hosts enable you to connect to a network where servers are providing services.

Here’s what differentiates each web hosting type:

#1. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting uses one physical server and shares the server resources between multiple users. It is the most basic hosting solution you can get on the market, and you can use it for hosting simple websites like personal blogs.

Shared hosting is the cheapest web hosting solution available, but it can compromise security and performance.

#2. Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated Server hosting is a powerful server used by only one tenant. The host gets to use all of the resources of the dedicated server.

Dedicated hosting is very secure because when you host your website on it, it is isolated from other hosts in the network. Meanwhile, using shared hosting puts you in the same environment as other users.

#3. Managed Hosting

Managed hosting services are offered by many hosting providers that sell dedicated hosting plans. When you opt for a managed plan, the hosting provider helps you set up your server, migrate any data from your old server, and maintain your server while you host with them.

Hosting providers can even perform regular data backups, proactively monitor your server to prevent malware, and set up a security system for your managed dedicated server.

#4. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

VPS hosting is a type of shared hosting where you get your own private hosting space. Having a hosting space that is isolated from other hosts gives you an advantage over shared hosting. It comes with enhanced security and improved performance.

Virtual private hosting is also more powerful and stable than shared hosting, and at the same time cheaper than dedicated hosting.

#5. Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a popular new hosting service that is very flexible. Cloud servers are based on software and are powered by bare-metal servers.

The advantage of having software-based hosting is that it runs in a cloud environment with an abundance of power provided. Your hosted apps can use as many resources as they require from the cloud network. This is called flexible scalability.

And because cloud hosting runs on bare-metal servers, also known as dedicated servers, they are very powerful and allow for excellent performance.

#6. Colocation Hosting

Colocation hosting provides physical space for your server in a secure data center. You can rent out space in the data center where your equipment will reside. The hosting provider will give you an IP address, as well as power and cooling to maintain your server.

Colocation hosting is ideal for those looking to secure their servers and have the hosting provider manage their hardware.

To help you better understand the differences between a host and a server, you can read our detailed guides on web hosting as well as dedicated servers.

The Five Different Server Types

There’s a variety of different servers used for different purposes. The main difference between the host and the server is that the following types of servers are devices providing services in a network of hosts.

#1. Web Servers

In the debate of host vs server, you might be more familiar with the term web server. Technically, web servers are used for hosting websites and web applications. These hosted services are accessible on the internet and can be reached using a web browser.

#2. Mail Servers

Mail servers are used to host mail clients that serve an entire organization, like a business or a school. They provide a platform that all users in an organization can use to connect to using electronic mail.

Mail servers not only interconnect local users, but they can receive and send mail to remote users too.

#3. Application Servers

Application servers are used for developing software or running applications. These servers perform the logic operations for applications. Some common application servers are Java, PHP, and .NET framework servers.

#4. Database Servers

Database servers are used for storing information and managing relations between different databases. They are crucial for businesses operating with large amounts of information and need to have an organized structure of their data.

Database servers connect the organization’s information with the network and can allow anyone to access it. Database servers can store data in databases, as well as retrieve information from them as requested. Typically, databases are hosted on dedicated servers with a 10Gbps internet connection for fast data transfer.

#5. File Servers

File servers are simply used for storing data and information in an organization. They facilitate easier data storage and provide data access to anyone within the network.

File servers are very useful, especially when you need to access data that you can’t reach physically. Instead, you can easily access it by connecting to the server using an internet connection.

Host vs Server: Comparing the Two Concepts

Host Server
Definition  A web host is a device such as a computer, smartphone, laptop that connects to another device in a similar network. Server either software or hardware provides the services that store large amounts of data and process the information given by the client. 
Major components Domain name, Domain registrar, SSL Certificate, DNS Server, Mail Server, Web Server, FTP Server  Motherboard, Memory, Hard Drive, CPU, Power Supply, Network Connection
First Used In 1991 1989
Types Shared, dedicated, managed, VPS, cloud, colocation hosting, WordPress hosting. web, mail, application, database, and file servers


The debate of host vs server has been ongoing because this is a very basic question that puzzles newbies. We hope that this short tutorial will clear up the debate and help you understand the basics of the debate.

If you have any questions about either of these ideas, post them here in the comments section below.

Difference Between Host and Server FAQ

#1. What is a web host?
A web host is a device that connects to a network and lets you interact with other devices on the same network.

#2. What is a server?
A server provides functionality for other programs or devices, also known as clients.

#3. What is the biggest difference between a web host and a server?
The biggest difference between a host and a server is that the former are the connected devices in a network, while the latter provide services and functionality to devices in the network.

#4. What are the 6 main types of web hosts?
Shared Hosting
Dedicated Hosting
Managed Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
Cloud Hosting
Colocation Hosting

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