Servers are basically computers with the intent of transmitting data through ISP's (internet service providers like Comcast, AOL, Earthlink) and into your computer (the client) via browsers like Mozilla, IE (Internet Explorer), or other programs. Servers can perform various functions to the data your computer requested for, such as doing a simple mathmatical operation before it's sent back, or compile/split the information into larger/smaller parts, also known as packets. Servers can be connected to other servers in many different ways, which is best referred to as a network. Networks allow you and your devices (e.g. printers) to communicate through to other networks, servers, clients, and devices. So that is what the internet is mostly comprised of.
We connect through the ISP's network to access the network of servers, which we commonly know as websites. So when you type in a domain like webcitypages.com and hit the Enter or Go button, your ISP will basically do a search for the domain and then connect you though an available route.
Dedicated servers are great for large companies that have massive amounts of files and require massive amounts of traffic flow (bandwidth). Dedicated servers also means what it's named for, that there's one operating system on one computer fully dedicated to the functions and operations of one company. Currently we're hosting all our clients sites on our dedicated server due to the need of space, bandwidth and reliability.
Virtual Servers can be a good way to save money and just about be equal to a dedicated server. These types of servers are usually cheaper than the actual dedicated server because several virtual servers can be partitioned on one dedicated server. From a few common problems with this, one can be that everyone is using the same resources; so if one server hogs up the CPU (central processing unit the main chip) for its functions, the rest of the group sufferes from slow processesing on their end.
Shared servers are even more cost effective for smaller businesses especially if they don't want to deal with some of the headaches associated with server security or operating system maintenance. Shared servers can be a portion of the dedicated or the virtual server. They are commonly setup in a sub-directory of the reseller, using the available programs on the server
The most popular OS (operating system) for the web is either Unix based or Microsoft Windows. The Windows is good if ASP (Active Server Pages) and a few other programs are required for the functions of the site. Unix tends to be more reliable and has long been used before Microsoft started their server venture. With Unix, Perl/CGI and PHP are great programming languages for functions of the site. Although it's true that both OS can handle the listed programs, but the fact is that the language was originally based for that OS. It's kinda like you're born learning english, and decades later you try to adopt a new language, you'll pick up a few things, but may never be perfect with it. The human mind is more flexible than computers, but you get the idea...