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Client definition

A client is either a hardware device or software requesting access to a server. A client is one side of the client-server relationship with the client producing requests for data and the server retrieving it.

Client types

  • Thick. A computer where client software connects to the desktop itself. Can be run on Windows or browser.
  • Thin. A virtual desktop hosted in a data center. It serves as a terminal to the back-end server. Usually runs on Linux or Windows.
  • Zero. Just like thin clients, zero clients are visual desktops hosted in the data center. But the main difference is that no operating system is needed.

Client examples

In a client-server relationship, a client can be:

  • An email application. Third-party software like Thunderbird sends a request to Gmail and retrieves your newest emails.
  • A browser. Every time the user clicks a link, the client (the browser) sends the request to the website server and gets the data.
  • An online video game. A multiplayer game client like Minecraft sends thousands of data packets telling the game’s online servers about the player’s actions as well as retrieves other players’ actions.