Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In my current Windows Vista install (as well as other Window's installs), I can share files by sharing folders and having public directories. What's the difference between having an actual file server and having a computer that just shares files?

share|improve this question
Whatever you want or need it to be. E.g. proper server-grade hardware, or an optimized configuration. – Daniel Beck Feb 21 '11 at 20:52
up vote 1 down vote accepted

People typically define a file server as a machine that is designed purely for sharing files. Such a machine could be anything, but generally a good file server should aspire to have the following features:

  • Minimalist OS
  • Minimal overhead software (i.e. little or no virus scan, etc.)
  • Automated update / self cleaning / self management features where possible
  • Fast hard disk storage
  • Redundant storage and / or automated backup
  • Fast network connection
  • Basic CPU, 2 physical cores at least. Low power preferred.
  • Reasonable amount of RAM, enough for OS + operations - The OS will use RAM as a "cache" since traffic from the network can sometimes be significantly faster than a hard drive can read / write
  • Uninterruptible power supply
  • Low-power consumption components

Such a machine does not need any form of graphical interface (therefore no graphics card or even monitor).

A regular computer does not generally have things like automated backup or even a UPS, and power consumption is much higher because of all of the extra things a regular computer does - graphics, sound, and CPU utilization. etc.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.