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Difference between Web Server and Mail Server

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Web Server : Web Server, as the name suggests, is a server software where web content is stored and uses HTTP protocol and other protocols to respond to user requests that is being made over WWW. Its main function is to display the content of the website through storing, processing, and delivering webpages within the website to users.  

Example: Apache, NGINX, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), etc.  

Web Server Features:

  • HTTP protocol: Web servers use the HTTP protocol to serve web pages over the internet.
    Domain Name System (DNS): A web server can host multiple websites, each with its own domain name and IP address.
  • Server-side scripting languages: Web servers support server-side scripting languages like PHP, Python, and Ruby, which allow developers to build dynamic web applications.
  • Web application servers: Web servers can run web application servers like Apache Tomcat, JBoss, and Node.js, which allow developers to build complex web applications.
  • Content management systems: Web servers can support content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, which make it easy to create and manage web content.

Mail Server : Mail Server, similar to the post office, is a computer system program responsible for receiving, routing, delivering e-mail. It is also known as MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) and store incoming mail for distribution to users and deliver e-mail to client computers.  

Example: Yahoo!, Gmail incoming mail server, Gmail outgoing mail server, etc.  

Mail Server Features:

  • SMTP protocol: Mail servers use the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to send and receive emails.
  • Mail transfer agents: Mail servers use mail transfer agents (MTAs) like Sendmail, Postfix, and Exim to route and deliver email messages.
  • Mail delivery agents: Mail servers use mail delivery agents (MDAs) like Dovecot, Courier, and Cyrus to store incoming mail messages for retrieval by email clients.
  • POP3 and IMAP protocols: Mail servers support protocols like POP3 and IMAP, which allow email clients to retrieve messages from the server.
  • Spam filtering: Mail servers often have built-in spam filters to block unwanted email messages.
  • User authentication: Mail servers require user authentication to send and receive emails, typically through a username and password.

Similarities between web servers and mail servers:

  • Both run on server hardware: Both web servers and mail servers run on dedicated server hardware. These servers can be either physical or virtual and are typically designed to handle high traffic loads.
  • Both use an operating system: Both types of servers use an operating system such as Linux, Windows, or macOS to manage system resources and run server software.
  • Both use network protocols: Both web servers and mail servers use network protocols to communicate with client devices. For example, web servers use HTTP or HTTPS, while mail servers use SMTP, POP3, or IMAP.
  • Both require security measures: Both web servers and mail servers need to be secured against cyber threats such as hacking and malware. This requires implementing security measures such as SSL/TLS encryption, firewalls, and antivirus software.
  • Both can be managed remotely: Both types of servers can be managed remotely using various tools such as SSH, RDP, or web-based control panels.
  • Both can be hosted in the cloud: Both web servers and mail servers can be hosted in the cloud, allowing users to access them from anywhere with an internet connection.

Web Server vs Mail Server  

Web Server  

Mail Server  

Web servers basically handle, manage, and run one or more websites.   Mail Servers basically handle, manage, and delivers e-mail over the internet.  
It delivers content for website to user or visitor that wants it same as a web browser.   It delivers and receive email messages same as post office.  
Its main objective is to display website content through storing, processing and delivering web pages to users or visitors.   Its main objective is to act as virtual post office and make communication possible between various employees of organization or business or company. 
It is important for users to view website because without web server, users won’t be able to have access to content of websites at all.  It is important for users to store their documents, files and videos in cloud storage. 
Types of web servers include Apache HTTP server, Jigsaw server, LiteSpeed Web server, etc.   Types of mail server include POP3 mail server, IMAP mail server, SMTP mail server, etc.
Its main function is to host website and distribute web pages as they are requisitioned.   Its supports e-communication, content and file sharing, etc.  
It follows a network protocol known as HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol).   It follows SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol).  

  Conclusion :

Web server and a mail server serve different purposes and use different protocols to fulfill their respective functions. While they may share similarities in terms of server hardware, operating system, and network architecture, the differences between the two are important to understand when setting up and maintaining these types of servers.

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Last Updated : 03 Apr, 2023
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