What are advantages and disadvantages of mainframe computer

Overview of mainframe computer

A computer system that is dedicated to processing a large amount of data and handle thousands of users at a time. This computer system has hundreds or even thousands of processors attached to it. Such computer system is owned by large organizations like big banks, online stores, insurance companies and telecom sector where data processing is high in demand and accuracy of data is also important. IBM system Z is an example of today mainframe computer.


  • Has a size of a normal refrigerator and can have ram of 1 TB.
  • Most of today mainframe computers are made by IBM but in old days they were made by dozens of other companies
  • Used in air ticket reservation, online shopping mart, credit card transactions
  • Hundreds of processors are used in this system just for I/O transaction processing
  • First mainframe computer was named as Harvard Mark I and developed in 1930
  • These computers cost from $100,000 to $1 million
  • Such computer can be connected to thousands of personal computers and to do heavy processing, personal computer sends information to a mainframe Example of this is an ATM machine which is connected to such computer at the backend and when the user inserts ATM card then that transaction is processed by the mainframe computer. Most of the big banks have their own mainframe computers.
Advantages and disadvantages of mainframe computer
Advantages and disadvantages of mainframe computer

Advantages of mainframe computer

High response time

These computers have 99.999% response time. Thousands of transaction of credit cards can be processed with a high level of accuracy. New systems can also process billions of transactions at a time and also give an analysis of each transaction.

Virtual machine

This type of computer can be divided into different logical partitions i.e. virtual machines. Each virtual machine can work with one processor and performs some specific task. No additional hardware is needed for such virtual machines and each virtual machine behave as a standalone server.

Better usage of software and hardware

Due to the special operating system used in this system, the software, and hardware work nicely with each other and give reliable, efficient and effective results.

Problem solving

If a problem arises in this system then it can be self-detected and solved without affecting any other application.

High security

These systems have an extra level of security for protecting organization data. User data is authenticated, analyzed and every data goes through firewall protection.

High durability

If these systems are set up properly then they can perform in a long period of time without any problem. Additional hardware and software can be added without affecting performance.Due to the special operating system used in this computer, old and new applications perform well without any problem.

Disadvantages of mainframe computer

High skilled people

High skilled people are required to manage these systems. Most of the work is done by commands on these systems. Developing programs for these systems is also not easy and efficiency and speed of these programs are also very critical. Developers have to perform very well in coding so that program will run fast without using extra processor and memory.

Not good GUI

Such computers have not good user interface (icons and wallpapers) as found in desktop computers and they are not meant for general use like they cannot be used for playing high-end graphics games

High cost

The cost of this system is significantly high. The software and hardware used in such system are also expensive. Maintenance of such system is also very costly. It requires high internet bandwidth and very skilled staff

Consumes more space

As these computers are large in size as compared to PC they require more space. Such computers should be placed in safe place.

Cooling system required

Due to high performance, such computers need to be placed in a cool place where they do not heat up quickly.

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What are advantages and disadvantages of mainframe computer

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