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In the simplest terms, Thin Client computing is a “display only” computer or device, meaning that it displays programs and applications that run on network servers (also referred to as dedicated servers) rather than on the computer. The trend in Thin Client computing is a result of the evolution of the personal computer (PC)-based network. In the past, new PC software and hardware were continuously being released, resulting in a never-ending stream of upgrades in terms of hardware, applications, devices, Internet access, device drivers (to name a few) being needed. The other consequence is the ongoing reconfiguration, upgrades, and eventual replacement of computers that are part of the network. Personal computers that must be constantly upgraded from what started as a “simple” PC are termed “fat client” network devices.
Thin Client Computing (also known as Thin Client/Server-Based Computing) is basically an explanation in the shift back to more centralized computing (utilizing Network Servers) while keeping the advantages that users of PCs have historically enjoyed. As mentioned previously, a “standard” personal computer requires a display (flat panel monitor or CRT), a dedicated hard drive, its own hardware drivers and devices, as well as software applications, while a Thin Client computer is a display-only terminal. In addition, a Thin Client computer requires no software to be loaded on it (since it doesn't have a hard disk drive); furthermore, it stores no data on it. All software applications are handled and executed on efficient, powerful network servers while the Thin Client computer – quite simply – delivers and presents the screen display and has the most basic of drivers to operate the computer mouse and keyboard. Moreover, the Thin Client computer requires minimum capabilities to display the user application, with the additional advantage that the Thin Client computer does not need to be upgraded or replaced contingent on new hardware and software applications being released.
Benefits of Thin Client Computing include:
- Significant increase in reliability
- Lower cost of maintenance and ownership – no costly upgrades required
- Better security – data and software applications maintained at the network server
- Simple end user sessions – simply plug in, connect cables, log on and start to work
- Same remote access capability – users get the same software application and level of performance wherever they are – in the office, from a remote location, Internet connection access
With Thin Client Computing, the network server specifications and capabilities are extremely important. Factors such as software configuration, network server size and server hardware are all important aspects of successful Thin Client Computing.