Online gaming is one of the greatest ways to game. It allows us to play with our friends from across the world no matter the time of day. And it allows us to meet new and interesting gamers through a number of different channels. A lot of games have been created based solely on multiplayer interaction. There are even some genres that rely on it such as MMOs and games-as-service.
Online gaming is powerful. But it relies on one technology to ensure people can actually game together. And that is servers. And it isn’t just online gaming that makes use of servers either. Most modern businesses make use of servers in one way or another. If you’ve ever logged onto a company’s website, then you’ve made use of a server. Universities and schools use servers to host their internal systems such as library records or course modules.
But what exactly are servers? And can you run your own server on a low-budget computer? Today we are going to take a look at both of these questions and hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of how online gaming works and maybe even look at starting up your own server.
What is a Server
A server might seem like this completely digital thing that we just magically connect to. But they are actually complex devices that are made up of both a hardware component and a complex software side.
The hardware component is arguably the most important aspect of a server. In theory, any machine could run a server. The machine is only needed as a staging unit for the software in a sense. But if someone wants a server that is online 24/7 then the hardware would also need to be turned on 24 hours a day. This is why companies have massive server rooms with huge machines that are kept at low temperatures.
The software that is used on a server serves a few purposes. The main one is allowing the various users, known as ‘Client’s’ to connect together and to the server itself. The software can be customized to carry out a number of different functions. Often known as server commands. You will need customized commands and functions for servers with a wide range of gamemodes or servers that host a lot of clients at any one time. You can also set servers to restrict access for certain people at certain times. This is perfect for companies who want to run stores at certain times.
Can You Run a Server on a Cheap Machine
So the next thing we want to look at is if you can run a server on a budget computer. The answer is technically, yes. A server can be run on literally any computer on the planet. Even a phone could technically run a server. But the question is, would it run well?
A server is only as good as the machine it is run on. Load times will be affected by the computer’s processing power. A computer with a poor processor will struggle to handle any intense gaming or processes. And will definitely struggle when you have a lot of people trying to connect to it.
The second hardware factor you need to consider is cooling. This is the main issue with any hardware. Computers run hot. And when they are running a server this is extra true. If you have ever been inside one of those giant server rooms you will notice they are kept very cold. And this is because the machines are extremely hot. And if the system isn’t cooled down it can overheat and this can lead to permanent damage.
So if you plan to run a server on a low-budget machine you need to make sure you keep it cool. This can be difficult with budget fans, but you can use external fans to help. You also need to make sure you don’t block the fan grills.
You will also note that servers take a lot of power, especially if you have them running 24/7. And this can increase your energy bills massively. So it can be very costly to run a server out of your own home.
Alternatives To Running a Server
It can be difficult to run a server on a low-budget machine. So you might want to consider some alternatives.
The first, and easiest option, is to just rent out a server instead of running one on your own machine. Renting a server is a great way to get the service you need without investing in the complex hardware required to host a lot of people on one server. Or if you need a server to help run your business you might want to go with this option. Renting a server comes with a host of other benefits such as live support and added security.
You can also get small server bank machines. These are computers that function only as a server. You attach them to your main computer and run them that way. This means you can host a pretty high-end server on a low-budget machine. It also helps deal with the issue of overheating as the server banks produce a lot less heat.