A Source dedicated server is a dedicated video game server for any game that makes use of a three-dimensional game engine called Source. This type of server allows many gamers to play competitively at once. A Source dedicated server can be run by an individual on a residential Internet connection or by a dedicated hosting service. The server is dedicated, so clients can connect and play with other clients regardless of whether the system host is in the game.
Unlike a listen server, where one of the players in a game is hosting the game for the others, a dedicated server is a server where the host is not actually taking part in the game but simply running a comparatively lightweight application to maximize system resources. This allows a single server system to host a number of individual game servers if so desired. It is usually the most efficient way to host a game for others.
Although any home users can run a dedicated server, because of the high demands on bandwidth and hardware, many people choose to employ a dedicated hosting service instead. Such hosting services are generally inexpensive — though this might vary depending on the number of users and other factors — and allow the user to configure the server to whatever specifications he or she desires, including game types and the use of modifications. The server can then be managed by the user in real time from a simple web application.
For Source games, the application for running a dedicated server is called the Source dedicated server (SRCDS). Any user wishing to start a dedicated server can freely download and run the application. With the SRCDS program, a host can initiate, configure and manage a Source dedicated server without ever logging into the game.
The Source game engine was created by the Valve Corporation and released in 2004 for the first-person shooter game Counter Strike: Source. It has since been used in many other high-profile games and is popularly used with various types of first-person shooter games. As of early 2011, the Valve Corporation has continued to develop and support the Source engine.