Apache is an open-source web server software that powers about 45% server around the world. Apache is one of the most popular web servers that empowers you to run a stable website without too much of a difficulty. It’s the most frequent choice of developers that need a presence on the web. The official name of Apache is Apache HTTP Server, and it has managed and produced by the Apache Software Foundation.
It is one of the earliest and most stable web servers, with the initial version released in 1995.
What is a Web Server?
There are different types of the Web server: File servers, database servers, mail servers, and web servers use different types of server software. Each of this software can reach to files saved on a physical server and use them for various objectives.
The primary role of a web server is to serve websites on the internet. To achieve this goal, Apache work like middleware between the server and client machines.
The biggest challenge of a web server is to handle many different user’s requests at a time where each user can request a different page. Web servers process files are written in various programming languages such as Java, Python, PHP etc. They change them to static HTML and show these files in the browser of web clients.
Working of Apache Web Server?
Although we know Apache as a web server, it is not a physical server, but rather a software that runs on a server. Its job is to make communication between a server and the client’s browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, etc.) while transferring files back and forth between them. Apache is a cross-platform based software, hence it runs on all popular operating systems.
When a user needs to load a page on your website, for example, the homepage or your “Contact Us” page, their browser forwards a request to your server and Apache returns a response with all the requested files (text, file, etc.). The server and the client interact through the HTTP protocol and Apache is held for stable and reliable communication between both machines.
Apache is extremely customizable, as it has a module-based design. Modules enable server managers to turn extra functionalities on and off. Apache has modules for protection, caching, URL, authentication, and much more. You can additionally set up your own server configurations through a .htaccess file.
Apache vs NGINX
Nginx, pronounced Engine-X, is a newer web server application initial released in 2004. As of now, it has increased quite a reputation among webmasters. Nginx was designed to solve the so-called c10k problem, meaning that a web server that uses threads to handle user requests is incapable to handle more than 10,000 connections at a time.
- Because Apache uses the thread-based structure, owners of traffic-heavy websites may face performance difficulties. Nginx is one of the web servers that discuss the c10k difficulty and seemingly the most successful one.
- Nginx has an event-driven design that doesn’t generate a different process for every request. Rather, it controls every incoming request in one thread. This master process controls many worker processes that perform the exact processing of requests. The event-based model of Nginx shares user requests with worker processes efficiently, hence leading to much better scalability.
- If you want to handle a high-traffic website Nginx is a great option, as it can do that by utilising minimum resources. It can’t be a coincidence that it’s adopted by many high-visibility websites such as Netflix, Hulu, Pinterest, and Airbnb.
- However, for small and medium players, Apache comes with a handful of advantages over Nginx, such as its easy configuration, lots of modules, and a beginner-friendly environment.
Apache vs Tomcat
Tomcat is a web server also developed by the Apache Software Foundation and its official name is Apache Tomcat. It’s an HTTP server and it powers Java applications instead of static websites. Tomcat can run various different Java specs such as Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages (JSP), Java EL, and WebSocket.
- Tomcat has been designed particularly for Java applications, while Apache is a general-purpose HTTP server. You can use Apache collectively with diverse programming languages (PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) with the help of the suitable Apache module (mod_php, mod_python, mod_perl, etc.).
- Although you can use a Tomcat server to run static web pages as well, it’s limited suited for that purpose than Apache. For example, Tomcat pre-loads the Java Virtual Machine and other Java-related libraries you won’t require on static websites.
- Tomcat is also limited configurable compared to other web servers. For instance, to run PHP applications, the most suitable choice is a general-purpose HTTP server such as Apache or NGINX.
Apache Pros and Cons
An Apache web-server can be a great decision to run your website on a stable and handy platform. But, it also comes with a few limitations you need to give attention to.
- Open-source and freeware, also for industrial use.
- Reliable, stable software.
- Regularly updated, frequent security patches.
- Manageable due to its module-based structure.
- Simple to configure, beginner-friendly.
- Supported to Cross-platform (works on both Unix and Windows servers).
- Serves out of the box with WordPress website.
- Large community and easily available support in case of any query.
- Performance obstacles on very traffic-heavy websites.
- Too numerous configuration possibilities can lead to security vulnerabilities.