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server farm

Also referred to as server cluster, computer farm or ranch. A server farm is a group of networked servers that are housed in one location. A server farm streamlines internal processes by distributing the workload between the individual components of the farm and expedites computing processes by harnessing the power of multiple servers. The farms rely on load-balancing software that accomplishes such tasks as tracking demand for processing power from different machines, prioritizing the tasks and scheduling and rescheduling them depending on priority and demand that users put on the network. When one server in the farm fails, another can step in as a backup.

Combining servers and processing power into a single entity has been relatively common for many years in research and academic institutions. Today, more and more companies are utilizing server farms as a way of handling the enormous amount of computerization of tasks and services that they require.

A Web server farm, or Web farm, refers to either a Web site that runs off of more than one server or an ISP that provides Web hosting services using multiple servers.

Also see the Server Types page in the quick reference section of Webopedia for a comparison of server types.

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