It is improper to talk about this difference, as a server is actually a computer, and a computer can be used as a server. However, beginners in the online world commonly make this mistake, and here is why this difference appears.
The first people who build online websites tens of years ago didn’t have the services of hosting companies at their disposal. Besides the difficulty of building a website entirely in HTML, there was also the problem of keeping the site online. This could only be done with personal computers, which were used as servers for this purpose.
Practically, the hosting server had to be on all the time, for the visitors to find the website online. It was pretty challenging to set up such a server and to maintain it, so the hosting companies that appeared a little after this time were surely a blessing for website builders.
A hosting company owns a large number of servers, which are no more than computers that are always online. This way, the web designer will make sure his website is still online and can be found by visitors. These servers are no more than high performing computers with large hard drive capacity. They can host thousands of websites at the same time, offering increased security and solid maintenance as well.
Can I use my computer as a server?
If you ever played a PC game in the Local Network, then you should know how this works. One of the players creates a game, and all the other players can find the match in LAN and connect to it. The central computer is a server in this case, but its role stops at the moment when the multiplayer game ends. This is only an example of how a simple computer can be used as a server.
Today, practically any computer can be used as a server. Your smartphone can be a server when you create a HotSpot for your friends. Your X-box is a server if you host an online game of FIFA with other players. However, as Personal computers are rarely used as servers for online websites, the confusion between computers and servers is not as common as it used to be.
So what is the difference between a server and a PC today?
Both computers use the same components, such as RAM memory, processors, and sources. However, the rest of the hardware might be completely different between the two devices. Servers have more complicated components, as well as hot-swap elements. Hot-swap hardware is a component that can be replaced while the device is working. It is a handy feature for a server that needs different RAM capabilities at different times of the day.
It is still possible to use PCs as servers today, but it is entirely overrated and inefficient. If you want to build a website that is online all the time, you should consider finding a web hosting company instead of hosting the site on your computer.