Best Web Servers In 2024

A web server is a system, either software or hardware, that provides web content to users online. It handles and answers HTTP requests, efficiently serving web pages and other resources. Web servers are essential for hosting websites and web applications, making content accessible to users globally.

Apache Web Server

Apache HTTP Server, commonly known as Apache or Apache HTTPD, is a free and open-source web server software that handles client requests and delivers web content through HTTP. Developed by the Apache Software Foundation and first released in 1995, it remains a popular choice today, powering around 30% of websites worldwide and ranking as the second largest web server.

Apache is compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows, OpenVMS, Linux, macOS, and other Unix-like systems, and it supports various communication protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, WebSocket, and HTTP/2. As part of the LAMP stack, one of the earliest open-source software stacks for web development, Apache integrates seamlessly with different software, CMS, programming languages, and frameworks.

The server is known for its performance and flexibility, mainly due to its modular system, which allows users to customize their server by adding or removing features as needed.

Nginx Web Server

NGINX, pronounced as “Engine X,” is a reliable web server known for its scalability and speed. It is comparable in market share to Apache, yet is more favored. Both are open-source and free to use. Software engineer Igor Sysoev started developing NGINX in 2002 to tackle the C10K problem of handling 10,000 simultaneous connections on the early web.

NGINX employs an asynchronous, event-driven architecture, allowing it to manage numerous client requests at once. It is efficient at handling high traffic, scaling well with minimal hardware, and delivering static files quickly. As a part of the LEMP web stack, NGINX serves as an alternative to Apache’s LAMP.

Additionally, NGINX can function as a load balancer, improving resource efficiency and availability, as well as a reverse proxy, evenly distributing content requests to maintain smooth traffic flow between servers and clients.

Web Server Comparison (Common)

Market ShareApache and NGINX hold similar market shares in the web server space.Apache and NGINX hold similar market shares in the web server space.
PopularityWhile Apache has historically been a widely-used web server, its popularity has somewhat declined in recent years as NGINX gains more traction.NGINX has gained significant popularity and is a top choice for many modern web projects due to its efficiency and performance.
Open-SourceApache is open-source, offering flexibility and customization to developers.NGINX is also open-source, providing developers with similar benefits in terms of flexibility and customization.
CostApache is available for free, making it an accessible choice for businesses of all sizes.NGINX is also free, making it an equally accessible choice for developers and businesses.
ArchitectureApache employs a process-based architecture, which can be resource-intensive as it creates a separate process for each request.NGINX uses an asynchronous, event-driven architecture, which allows it to handle multiple requests concurrently with fewer resources.
ScalabilityApache can scale reasonably well, but may require more hardware and optimization for large-scale traffic.NGINX excels in scalability, efficiently handling high traffic loads and large numbers of connections with minimal hardware.
PerformanceApache delivers strong performance and reliability, though its process-based model may lead to slower response times under heavy loads.NGINX is known for its speed and high performance, particularly in serving static content and managing concurrent requests.

Web Server Comparison (Extras)

Static File ServingApache can serve static files effectively, but may not be as fast as NGINX.NGINX is exceptional at quickly serving static files, making it a preferred choice for content delivery.
Web Stack IntegrationApache is the primary web server in the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl), which is a traditional choice for web development.NGINX is a key component of the LEMP stack (Linux, NGINX, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl), which is a modern alternative to the LAMP stack.
Load BalancingApache can be configured to perform load balancing, though it may not be as efficient as NGINX in this role.NGINX excels at load balancing, distributing traffic evenly across multiple servers for improved performance and reliability.
Reverse ProxyApache can act as a reverse proxy, though its implementation may require more configuration and management.NGINX is highly efficient as a reverse proxy, smoothly handling content requests and balancing traffic between servers and clients.

Both Apache and NGINX are open-source and free to use, providing developers with options based on their specific needs and preferences. While Apache uses a process-based architecture, NGINX leverages an asynchronous, event-driven approach for better performance and scalability. Apache remains a strong choice for web server needs, but NGINX’s speed, efficiency, and advanced features make it a popular choice for many modern projects.

In summary, if you value performance, scalability, and efficiency, NGINX is the best choice. If you prefer tradition and customization, Apache is still a strong option. Both servers are open-source and free, so the decision ultimately depends on your project’s specific needs and existing infrastructure.


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