A headless server is a computer without a local interface that is dedicated to offering services to other computers and their users.
Headless servers do not have access to any display, keyboard, mouse, or any other peripherals. They are just standalone computer tower.
What does headless mean?
Headless, in this context, is the computing device which has no monitor, keyboard, mouse, and any other device. It is just a computer with either a local or an internet connection.
A desktop computer we use at home is always connected with some local interfaces like a display, keyboard, mouse, speakers, printers, and all. But a headless server won’t have access to such local interfaces because they are not meant to do basic work we do at home.
Such kind of headless computers or servers may largely run autonomously or be remotely controlled. You can only see them in either big enterprises or in data centers.
Servers in large data center environments are often headless. In a data center, hundreds and thousands of computer servers are vertically and horizontally rack-mounted and connected to each other locally or shared with a business-class internet connection.
What is the point of a headless server?
Not every computer needs a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. For many businesses and research needs, we use computers to process the data. What we need is just raw performance from those computers. So we use headless servers with minimal software that is required.
From hosting a new website to Google, and Facebook, everyone uses headless servers.
Let’s have a look inside a Google data center which is real life example of headless servers.
How do we access headless servers?
Such headless servers are accessed remotely either using SSH (Secure Shell) or with some sort of remote desktop apps like Remote Desktop Connection and VNC (Virtual Network Computing). Websites that are hosted in web servers are also a headless server and that is managed by the command line (with the help of SSH) or by some special web interfaces like WHM or cPanel.
Headless servers often used by common users in some way. Content creators who make a lot of content use NAS (Network-Attached Storage) or File Server to save their work.