What does a "server hangup" mean?

Written by stephen byron cooper Google
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What does a "server hangup" mean?
A company that loses its server will get swamped with calls. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Internet users face frustration during copying a file or visiting a Web page when suddenly they see the message “server hangup.” This event ends all the activities on the connection and the whole process has to be started again. A server hangup may mean you can’t get back in to the remote site, because it has gone out of service.

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Client-server

The standard model of connections over the Internet is called “client-server.” This involves a client computer contacting a server computer to ask for something, which the server delivers. The display of a web page on your computer uses this method. When you enter an address in the web browser, the browser goes to the server for the required page and requests a copy of the page. The server replies with the code for the page in the body of its reply message.

Server

Servers store web pages and also files. If you want anything on the internet, or the web, the chances are you have to contact a server. Some systems involve several servers, each specialising in different tasks, like access verification and file storage. If one of those servers develops a problem, all communication is stopped.

Hangups

The term “hangup” refers to someone ending a telephone call. In the early days of the internet, connections were carried out through a telephone call. The connection ended when one end of the link got broken by one of the computers “hanging up.” A server hangup is therefore a lost connection caused by the remote computer terminating the connection.

Reasons

The simple reason a server hangs up is that it ceases to be available to connections. This could be because its administrator took it offline, because it crashed, or because it shut down all communication to prevent overloading. In these instances, there is no point trying to reconnect, because any serious problem that causes current connections to be dumped is unlikely to be fixed in a short time.

Resource sharing

The hangup may have occurred because the administrator of the server put a time limit on all connections. This would be done to prevent hanging connections from tying up the server’s availability. Such a connection might be caused if a connection is lost without terminating properly or if someone connects and then leaves the computers connected for a long period without activity, simply because they moved onto other tasks and forgot they left the connection open. Another reason for the administrator to set connection limits might be to limit the amount of data a customer can download.

Attack

“Denial of service” (DoS) attacks are a form of malicious damage that hackers inflict on companies they wish to punish. Programs running on several computers send repeated requests for connections to tie up all the available connection slots to that server and lock out genuine customers. A server’s administrator may program it to periodically drop all connections if conditions seem to fit the DoS attack.

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