Dedicated servers have been around since the Internet first began. Although dedicated servers are very different to the original dedicated server, they are in many ways similar. The common misconception is that dedicated servers only have one job. In fact, dedicated servers can multi-task. Servers can be used for any of the following requirements.
Server hosting is very often used for websites. A server can host lots of shared hosting websites, or in some cases just the one. As Linux is thought as more secure, web hosting servers normally run this operating system. It is also cheaper to run due to not having to pay for a license for the operating system. Web hosting comes in two forms- shared and reseller. Shared hosting works from a single account. You can host as many domains as you like on a reseller account.
Servers can also be used as a database server. The server can be setup to run one of many database engines depending on the operating system. MySQL normally runs along side web hosting. However, there is also InnoDB, Oracle, and also a Microsoft database engine. Most of the websites on the internet are powered by databases.
Dedicated game servers are used to power gaming servers. Smoother game play is one of the reasons for using a dedi server over your home PC to play online. This leaves the dedicated server to bear the load. A big reason for using dedicated servers for online gaming, is the connectivity. Being hosted in datacentres, dedicated servers have a fast connection to the internet.
File servers also make use of server hosting. If you are a regular Internet user, you will have been linked to photos on the net. There are websites that utilises file servers to store these photos. These are supported by banners or advertisements. File servers are also used to store programs such as software applications. The final use of server is for voice over IP. From Teamspeak to Mumble, VOIP is a growing trend on the net. How these programs work is the voice software is installed and runs on the dedicated server. Users then connect to the dedicated server for a fast connection.
The recent emergence of cloud software has put dedicated servers under scrutiny. Cloud software is able to make use of many dedicated servers. However given the amount of server hosts still around, dedicated servers are still the popular choice of the Internet enthusiast.