A thin client is a lightweight computer that has been optimized for establishing a remote connection with a server-based computing environment. The server does most of the work, which can include launching software programs, performing calculations, and storing data. This contrasts with a fat client or a conventional personal computer; the former is also intended for working in a client-server model but has significant local processing power, while the latter aims to perform its function mostly locally.
Thin clients occur as components of a broader computing infrastructure, where many clients share their computations with a server or server farm. The server-side infrastructure uses cloud computing software such as application virtualization, hosted shared desktop (HSD) or desktop virtualization (VDI). This combination forms what is known as a cloud-based system where desktop resources are centralized at one or more data centers. The benefits of centralization are hardware resource optimization, reduced software maintenance, and improved security.
- Example of hardware resource optimization: Cabling, bussing and I/O can be minimized while idle memory and processing power can be applied to user sessions that most need it.
- Example of reduced software maintenance: Software patching and operating system (OS) migrations can be applied, tested and activated for all users in one instance to accelerate roll-out and improve administrative efficiency.
- Example of improved security: Software assets are centralized and easily fire-walled, monitored and protected. Sensitive data is uncompromised in cases of desktop loss or theft.
Thin client hardware generally supports a keyboard, mouse, monitor, jacks for sound peripherals, and open ports for USB devices (e.g., printer, flash drive, webcam). Some thin clients include legacy serial or parallel ports to support older devices such as receipt printers, scales or time clocks. Thin client software typically consists of a graphical user interface (GUI), cloud access agents (e.g., RDP, ICA, PCoIP), a local web browser, terminal emulators (in some cases), and a basic set of local utilities.
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F.A.Q. about Thin client
What is a Thin Client?
A thin client is a computer with no hard drive or other moving parts that can lead to machine failure. Thin clients operate on a mainframe paradigm. All instructions and sessions come directly from a central, secure Windows server. Each thin client realizes its own session and operates independently from the other thin clients. Because thin clients have no hard drives, there is no loss of data if a local thin client gets damaged or has a local power failure.
Why use a Thin Client instead of a regular PC?
The main reason thin clients are better than PCs is that they offer "Lower Total Cost of Ownership". By reducing maintenance and install time, thin clients keep downtime to an absolute minimum. For example, to update 5 PCs you need to reinstall and configure all 5 PCs one at a time. With thin clients, you would simply make the update once on the server and all 5 thin clients would realize the update immediately.
Where should I use a Thin Client?
Thin clients can be used anywhere you would normally have a PC workstation. ACP has a number of partners who provide state of the art Thin Client hardware. These Thin Clients range from office-grade to light industrial, to heavy industrial including Class I Div 2.
Thin Clients are particularly favored in harsh conditions - most Thin Clients do not have cooling fans, are very small and easy to mount, and can be replaced within a minute or two.
When should I use a Thin Client?
Use thin clients when you need to have one or several PC workstations that substantially "Lower Total Cost of Ownership" while remaining easy to install and support. Use thin clients when you have harsh factory conditions or when you don't have the time or money to hire an IT staff to keep your industrial or office systems up and running.