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When your University sends everyone an e-mail saying

"We're sorry! One or more of our disks have failed; thus we've lost 'x' number of home directories on our servers."

Is it basically just the root directory allocated for each student/professor/faculty-member? And also, what do they mean by "server" here?

Thanks :)

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

A user's home directory is the initial directory when a user logs in. Normally the user may create files and directories only in in home directory (apart from temporary directories). Also various settings (user specific startup files and such) are usually stored in the user's home directory.

Server is just annother name for a host (a computer). Think of a computer that offers other computer some kind of service (e.g. web server, file server, etc.)

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