client/server - Computer Definition
A network architecture that distributes intelligence and responsibilities at several levels, with some machines designated as servers to serve the needs of client machines. A server can be a mainframe, minicomputer, or personal computer that operates in a time-sharing mode to provide for the needs of many clients. Client machines are complete, standalone computers that optimize the user interface, relying on servers to handle the more mundane tasks associated with application and file storage, network administration, security, and other critical functions. See also peer-to-peer.
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An architecture in which the user's PC (the client) is the requesting machine and the server is the supplying machine, both of which are connected via a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) such as the Internet. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, client/server was the hot buzzword as applications were migrated from minicomputers and mainframes with input/output terminals to networks of desktop computers. With ubiquitous access to company LANs and the Internet, almost everyone works in a client/server environment today. However, to be true client/server, both client and server must share in the business processing. To understand this principle, follow the examples below of a query to a hypothetical database of a million records, each 1,000 bytes long. Notice the amount of data flowing over the network.
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