Difference between Thin Clients and Thick Clients

Thin Clients

A thin client is a computer that uses resources from a central server rather than a local hard drive. Thin clients connect to a server-based computing environment via a remote connection, where most applications, sensitive data, and memory are stored.

  • The majority of the work is done by the server, including starting software programmes, doing calculations, and storing data. Thin clients are part of a larger computing infrastructure in which multiple clients share computations with a single server or server farm.

  • A thin client can be used in three ways; shared terminal services, desktop virtualisation, and browser-based. A graphical user interface (GUI), cloud access agents, a local web browser, terminal emulators, and a minimal set of local utilities are typical client software components.

  • While the server must be capable of handling multiple client sessions simultaneously, thin client hardware requirements are minimal compared to a standard PC desktop. The majority of thin clients are equipped with low-power processors, flash storage, memory, and no moving parts.

Some benefits of thin clients are its reduced cost, increased security, more efficient manageability and scalability. Popular providers of thin clients include Wyse Technology, NComputing, Dell, HP and Samsung Electronics.

Thick Clients

A thick client is a computing workstation that comprises most or all of the components required to operate and execute software applications independently.

  • A thick client is a client-server computing component linked to the server via a network connection but does not use any of the server's computing resources to run applications. A thick client is also characterised as a fat, heavy, or wealthy client.

  • A thick client is a client device with the bulk of hardware resources on board in a client-server architecture. It can execute computations, run applications, and perform other functions independently.

  • Although a thick client is capable of performing most tasks, it still requires a connection to the primary server to download programmes and data and update the operating system. Therefore, they are generally implemented in computing environments when the primary servers have low network speeds, limited computing, or a need to work offline.

Some of its benefits include lower server requirements, working offline, more flexibility and better multimedia performance.

Difference between thin and thick clients

The following table highlights some of the major differences between Thin Clients and Thick Clients −

Thin ClientsThick Clients
They are used by handheld devicesCustomization systems use thick clients
They have browser-based installationThey are installed locally.
Easily deployableMore expensive to deploy
Data is typically stored on serversMore expensive to deploy
Designed to communicate with a serverIt implements its own features