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NETSERV is a server, which allows fast access to data files and programs of interest to the EARN/Bitnet community. NETSERV provides a repository consisting of information files and programs. It allows users to retrieve files, to store files and to subscribe to the files of their choice. The latter two functions however, require that the user have a password for NETSERV (this is called a privileged user).

In order to achieve a balanced load on the network and a faster response time to users, NETSERV uses a distributed server concept: this is achieved by the installation of a large number of servers on the network to ensure that the user can locate a nearby server. All servers communicate with each other to distribute updated information and make it available from each copy of the server.

NETSERV's file server functions include retrieving any file present in its filelists, storing new versions of a file, and subscribing to files stored on the server. Its file directories are arranged in an hierarchical method, with NETSERV FILELIST being on top or at the root of the filelists. This filelist can be obtained by sending a GET NETSERV FILELIST command to any NETSERV. Filelists contain short descriptions of the files, and two access codes for each file. These codes represent the get and put privileges required for that file. These codes are explained at the beginning of the NETSERV FILELIST file.