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File Server vs. Web Server

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Can a File Server be Used as a Web Server?

Considering file server vs. web server as possibly overlapping? The short answer is to stop now. The thought of file server vs. web server is not totally off base, they are both servers, and as such, they are both pieces of computer hardware or software that provide functionality for devices or users.

When it comes to the answer of file server vs. web server, it comes down to use cases.

The reason that considering using a file server vs. web server is not a viable option is that these two systems have different capabilities and do not meet the needs of each use case. The primary difference between a web server and a file server is the type of content they are built to host.

Capabilities Comparison: File server vs. Web Server

File servers are:

  • Used to store and share files across a network
  • Usually connected to a local area network (LAN)
  • Used as a centralized location for storing files and enables users to access and share files from multiple devices
  • Able to perform functions, such as counting file downloads
  • Lacks features that support web hosting, such as CGI and the ability to run as a Windows service

Web servers are:

  • Used to host websites and web applications
  • Almost always connected to the internet
  • Optimized for speed, scalability, and security, and can be used to handle a large number of concurrent request
  • Able to respond to web browsers’ requests for specific page content
  • Lacks functionality related to file sharing, such as version control, file locking, and backups

What Is the Difference Between FTP and Web Server?

What Is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is an internet standard for data communications for the world wide web (i.e., WWW). It allows web pages (i.e., hypertext data) to be seamlessly transferred and how web browsers respond to requirements.

What Is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is used to transmit files from one host to another.

Types of Protocols For File Server Vs. Web Server

FTP for file server vs. web server using HTTP

Client-server architecture

Transmits files among different hosts

Rules that permit the uploading and downloading of files onto a computer via the internet

Uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) for connections

Establishes data connection (on Port 20) and command connection (on Port 21)

Requires authentication to transfer files between hosts

Good for transferring large files

Content saved to memory on receiving device
Client-server architectureTransmits web pages between a client and server

Rules that dictate how web pages are transferred between computers via the internet

Uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) for connections

Establishes only a data connection (on Port 80 for HTTP and Port 443 for HTTPS)

Does not require authentication for transfers

Good for transferring smaller files

Content not saved to memory on receiving device

What Is the Purpose of a File Server?

A file server is a computer that is used to store and share files (e.g., documents, applications, images, videos). Typically leveraging a local area network (LAN), a file server can be as simple as a single desktop sharing a folder or complex globally available virtual appliances. 

The purpose of a file server is to keep files protected and organized, as well as make them available to users and other systems on the network with valid access permissions. A file server allows files to be shared over a network without having to transfer them. 

The following are the features central to a file server’s ability to secure data from deliberate or accidental damage or loss.

  • Alerts to notify admins of usual activity that could be a sign of an attack or unauthorized file exfiltration
  • Conflict resolution to ensure data integrity if files are inadvertently overwritten.
  • Distributed file and backup system that creates data redundancy and highly available by copying it to multiple servers in different locations
  • File locking to prevent multiple users from editing the same file at the same time
  • File server security to protect data against failures, disasters, attacks, and ransomware
  • Permission management to set who can access which files and what they are authorized to do (e.g., edit, share, or delete the files), as well as regular audits of permissions

What Is the Purpose of a Web Server?

A web server is a computer that is used to host websites and web applications, making them accessible to anyone with an internet connection and permission to access in the case of sensitive or private content. Examples of content hosted by a web server are websites, e-commerce stores, content management systems, and blogs. Content delivered with a web server can be either static or dynamic content. Static content is presented as it is, while dynamic content can be updated and changed.

What Is the Difference Between a Server and a Web Server?

A server is a computer that provides services to others and other systems making requests. Servers listen to requests and then respond accordingly. In contrast, web servers are specialized. Web servers can provide high-performance capabilities when serving up files related to web content comprised of text, images, and applications that are interpreted by browsers (e.g., HTML, PHP, JSP, Java, JavaScript, CSS, .net). 

File Server vs. Web Server—Both Beneficial for Correct Use Cases

The answer to file server vs. web server comes down to use cases. A web server and a file server can provide many benefits for organizations of all sizes. Selecting a file server vs. a web server should come down to the required functionality. Each type of server is optimized for specific tasks and workloads of different types of organizations.

Web servers are designed to host websites and serve up web applications, which helps organizations increase online visibility and give users access to their tools. File servers also provide users with access but focus on file storage and file sharing to increase productivity by facilitating collaboration between individuals and teams. The security for file server vs. web server is comparable, including controls and systems to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, misuse, or accidental.

Web servers are used to host websites and web applications, which can help businesses reach a wider audience and increase their visibility online. File servers are used to store and share files, which can help businesses collaborate more effectively and improve their productivity. Web servers and file servers can also help enterprises protect their data and ensure it is safe from compromise, corruption, or loss.

Egnyte has experts ready to answer your questions. For more than a decade, Egnyte has helped more than 16,000 customers with millions of customers worldwide.

Last Updated: 16th August, 2023

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