In the client/server model, a file server is a computer responsible for the central storage and management of data files so that other computers on the same network can access the files. A file server allows users to share information over a network without having to physically transfer files by floppy diskette or some other external storage device. Any computer can be configured to be a host and act as a file server. In its simplest form, a file server may be an ordinary PC that handles requests for files and sends them over the network. In a more sophisticated network, a file server might be a dedicated network-attached storage (NAS) device that also serves as a remote hard disk drive for other computers, allowing anyone on the network to store files on it as if to their own hard drive.
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A program or mechanism that enables the required processes for file sharing can also be called a file server. On the Internet, such programs often use the File Transfer Protocol (FTP).