What Are Workstations?

By: Dusty Arlia
Published on September 24, 2011
Last Updated on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 1:48 PM
Total Updates: 4

Sometimes in the workplace you will hear people refer to a computer as a "workstation", but what makes this term used instead of some of the other terms used to refer to computers? When people refer to computers as desktops, PCs, terminals, or some other term, it can get pretty confusing. Are there certain things that differentiate these different types of computers?

When the term workstation is used, it suggests that this computer is more powerful than your typical desktop computer. Nothing is really different from a desktop computer and a workstation other than a workstation may have extra system resources. These additional resources may include extra memory, better processor, larger hard drive, included video card, attached printer, and other features that your average desktop might not have.

Workstation computers are used in environments that need a more powerful computer. Typically workstations are used in the workplace, in schools, or in public places like libraries. The term workstation implies that the computer will be used for work. When used in this way, owners of the workstations make sure that the computers are equipped properly to perform the tasks required of them.

Other then the extra physical capabilities, there may only be a few extra software tweaks. For example, workstations probably use a server authentication system when trying to login to the computer. This allows multiple users to use this computer rather than just the owner.

Another software tweak might be "deep freezing" the computer. If the computer is used in a public environment, than for security reasons the owner will want the computer configuration to stay the same for every user. To accomplish this, a program must be installed on the computer. A company called Faronics has a product called Deep Freeze that has become the industry standard. If you install Deep Freeze and "freeze" the computer, than every time you reboot the machine all the changes made to the computer will be erased.

In summary, if someone is referencing a workstation, remember that this is just a more powerful desktop that will be configured to be used in a work environment. These two types of computers are practically the same. It is common to refer to a workstation as a desktop, not too often the other way around. There's not too much to differentiate the two.