What Is a Thin Client? Definition and Introduction [Everything You Need]

Aaron Paul updated on Dec 01, 2022 to Knowledge Center

Network technologies are constantly developing, and now you don't need to buy a personal computer for each employee. You will need only ONE regular computer and from 1 to 32 PC-station terminal (thin) clients!

thin client

In computer technology, the term "client" refers to software or hardware that interacts with a server to receive information or perform certain actions. The client is an essential part of the client-server architecture. Examples of clients can be web browsers. They act as web clients and send requests to the web server, receiving the desired web page in response.

Clients in the client-server architecture model can be divided into two types: thin and thick. Here we will explore thin and thick client computing and their functions and benefits.

Definition of Thin Client

The thin client has become very popular, especially in commercial environments. Because it allows multiple users to access a central repository of applications, documents, and other data, the thin client has tremendous appeal for corporate environments.

A thin client is a type of client that transfers data processing tasks to the server without using its computing power to implement them. The computing resources of such a client are very limited, and they should be enough only to run the necessary network application using, for example, a web interface.

One example of using a thin client is a PC with a web browser installed, which is used to work with web applications. A feature of thin clients is the use of terminal mode. In this case, the terminal server sends and receives user data, which is the main difference from independent data processing in thick clients.

In addition to using the thin client software version, there are also thin client hardware solutions. These devices, which may not have their own hard disk, use a special local operating system, the main task of which is to establish a connection with the server.

Benefits of Thin Client

There are multiple advantages of thin clients. Here are the main benefits:

  • Low maintenance cost: There is no need for regular maintenance like in desktop computer environments, especially on software. You need to only care about hardware (parts and pieces) when the physical operation fails.
  • Greater security for users: A thin client can be stolen, but since it does not store data, it does not mean a problem from the perspective of information loss, nor does it require any data migration or configuration on the new computer.
  • Scalability: To install new client terminals, you simply have to configure a user account on the server, connect the thin client to the network and turn it on, and you will have access to all the applications and data available on the server.
  • Easy Administration: With a centralized infrastructure, file management, applications, and other features must be configured on the server, avoiding repetitive configuration tasks on clients.

Among the most important benefits related to the use of thin clients in offices are the following:

  • Reuse low-performance hardware and computers, having performance similar to that of a modern computer.
  • Extending the useful life of a computer.
  • Facilitates the recycling of old computers.
  • Reduce environmental impact by reusing equipment.
  • Thin clients consume between 65% and 95% less electrical energy than regular computers.
  • It contributes to the environment since thin clients emit reduced amounts of CO2 compared to regular computers.
  • Avoid buying software licenses for each computer, and in the case of requiring a licensed application, it must be purchased and installed only on the server.
  • Reduces the costs of implementation, administration, maintenance, and support of educational technology systems.
  • Data security and stability.
  • System scalability.
  • Increase in the number of user computers in computer labs due to reusing discarded equipment.
  • Promotes the use of free software in the educational area.

Use Cases of Thin Client

A thin client is a versatile, efficient system with all the functionality and power of a desktop computer. These convenient systems are perfect for the home and office. They are considered safe and much less vulnerable than traditional desktop computers. The story

Computers have been around for decades, and with the growing need for smaller, more compact systems, the thin client has become very popular over the years. You can easily fit these systems into any business without compromising performance and taking up more space than a normal desktop computer.

A thin client can be used in different environments, the most popular of which is a higher business network environment. Small businesses also use these systems because of their versatility and security. Many networking systems in stores and supermarkets use thin clients as part of their POS system. It is unnecessary for larger desktop systems because thin clients only need to run a specific application.

Many organizations are replacing their fixed workstations with thin clients connected to their VDI systems. Several key factors help determine whether they are a good fit for office deployment.

Thin clients usually consist of little more than a screen and input devices such as a keyboard and mouse. The VDI system supports almost all computer processing. This means that all keyboard and mouse input must traverse the network as it is processed. But display refreshes must also traverse the network. This means that organizations using thin clients absolutely must have reliable connectivity.

It is also important to consider the applications that will be used before deploying thin clients for VDI.

Thin Client vs. Thick Client

A thick client performs functions independently. These functions contain storing and recovering data, programs or applications, and local processing.

Personal computers connected to a LAN, virtual network, cloud computing servers, or the Internet are prime examples of thick clients. It is important to emphasize that a personal computer should be utilized mainly in a networked environment to be considered a thick client. Collaboration and subscription-based programs or applications are other examples of thick clients, especially if installed and processed on a particular computing device. Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud are examples of such applications.

On the other hand, a thin client relies heavily on a server to access data or retrieve files and to run or process programs or applications. The server performs most of the critical workload, including repository, recovery, and processing. In other words, a thin client is critically dependent on the hardware resources of a server.

A personal computer can also function as a thin client if it is used to access programs stored on a server. Most thin client computers are light in terms of hardware specifications. Web browsers and web applications like Google Docs, WordPress, and web-based online games are also examples of thin clients. Devices used for media streaming, like Chromecast and Apple TV, and streaming applications like Netflix or Spotify are technical examples of thin clients.

To design and implement a client-server architecture, you must choose a thick or a thin client.

Thin Client FAQs

1. What is an example of a thin client?

Examples of thin clients are internet browsers like Tor, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer. The most used are Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

2. Why is it called a thin client?

A thin client, translated as a light client, is called a thin client due to a few valuable and brilliant features.

3. Do people still use thin clients?

Yes, it's primarily used in many big and small offices due to several benefits.

4. Can a thin client be a laptop?

Yes, it's possible; however, lower CPU and memory resources and no hard disk don't make a good laptop.

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