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Thin Clients: What, Why, and When?

Alexei Chizhmakov

Published on February 20, 2020

Well-developed thin client applications offer better security, scalability, and lower costs than their thick/fat client predecessors. These and other advantages come from the differences in how resources and data are used and where they are stored. 

In a thin client scenario processing and storage of data is moved to a secure server instead of a local drive/processor. By connecting to a server-based computing environment, thin clients can access resources and data without storing it locally.

Thick clients, on the other hand, store and access all of the necessary data and resources directly from their local drives. Good examples of thin clients are web-based Google Docs, and thick clients – installed copy of Microsoft Office.

Why Are Thin Clients More Secure?

Thin clients were invented nearly 30 years ago to address the growing need for better security. As opposed to thick clients, the thin client model has a centralized system that is easier to manage, patch, and update than multiple computers running the same software. 


A traditional thin client stack relies on encrypted connection via a highly secure and virtual private network (VPN) to and from a server to transfer data. This eliminates the need to store sensitive information on local devices as it can be accessed remotely from a server.

What’s more, thin clients rely on a server’s processing power to carry out tasks quickly and efficiently. Even if a local device would not be able to run an application due to hardware limitations, thin clients make it possible for them to do so. 

However, there are also a few disadvantages. VPN requires large bandwidth, as data needs to be temporarily transferred to a thin application. If bandwidth is low, there can be performance and visual rendering issues as well as latency constraints. Additionally, an improperly configured VPN connection can create server vulnerabilities.

Saas Thin Client

To this day, the thin client model remains one of the most reliable, energy-efficient, and secure options for companies in healthcare, banking, and government. Thin clients have also become the go-to for Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. Gartner estimates that SaaS revenues are going to reach $113 billion by 2021

As web applications are used to deliver applications to users from a single point, SaaS solutions can be upgraded more frequently and have fewer performance issues, making them easier to use for most customers. 

To find out how thin clients can help improve your business, please do not hesitate to contact us or arrange a meeting with our CEO, Michael. Here at Itirra, we create custom-built software solutions that best meet the unique business needs of our clients.