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What Is a Host System?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A host system is a computer that is part of a network, which other computers can connect to as clients. One of the most common ways in which such a system is used is the Internet and the network of computers that host websites. Internet users connect to these hosts as clients and request data from them in order to find information and display websites on a user’s computer. A host system can also be part of a local network and can include printers and other devices that are connected to workstations or computers.

The basic role of a host system is to be a central terminal to which other systems can connect in order to access data or functions that it can provide. There are a number of different types of computers and pieces of hardware that can serve as a host including desktop computers and server mainframes. These systems can have a variety of pieces of hardware, which can be similar to the way in which other computers are assembled or they can be unique. A server functioning as a host system, for example, does not typically require a video card or other peripherals, but still uses processors and memory.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

There are different ways in which other computers can access and use a host system, though they typically connect to it through some type of network. A server or computer that acts as a host for a website, for example, is typically accessible through the Internet. Other computers, referred to as clients in this relationship, can connect to a host and request data from it. In this way, a host server provides data to the client computer, which then displays this data as documents, images, and video on a webpage.

A standard desktop computer can also be a host system for certain setups. Localized networks, for example, can use one machine as a host to which other computers then connect. This allows shared resources, such as business plans or design documents for new software, to be placed on the host machine that client computers can then access to use and share the data.

Different types of devices can also act as a host system, such as a printer or other networked equipment. One printer can be a host for several computers, allowing them to connect to it and send requests for documents to be printed through it. Acting as the host system, this printer uses internal software to take data from these clients, queue the requests appropriately, and print out each document in an organized manner.

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