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In this article, we will Understand what is a Web Server and Types of Web Servers, and how it works.
Imagine you have a computer that you want to use to show a website to other people on the internet. To make this happen, you need a special kind of software called a “web server.” Think of a web server as a virtual waiter at a restaurant for websites.
How it works
- Storing Files: Just like a restaurant waiter brings you food from the kitchen, a web server stores all the files that make up your website. These files can be things like HTML documents (the content of your web page), images, videos, and more.
- Listening for Requests: When someone wants to see your website, they use their web browser (like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) to send a request to your web server. It’s like a customer asking the waiter for a menu.
- Serving Content: The web server receives the request and looks at the file the person is asking for. For example, if they want to see the homepage, the server finds the HTML file for that page. It’s like the waiter bringing you the menu you asked for.
- Sending the Response: The web server sends the requested file (like the HTML file) back to the person’s web browser. The browser then reads the HTML and displays the webpage with all its images, text, and other elements.
- Handling Different Requests: Just as a restaurant waiter can serve different dishes, a web server can handle requests for different files and pages. It knows where to find each file and how to send them to the right person.
- Communication: The web server and the browser communicate using a set of rules called “protocols.” The most common protocol used is called HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This is how the browser and the web server understand each other and exchange information.
So, in simple terms, a web server is like a virtual waiter that stores website files and serves them to people who want to see the website. It makes sure everyone gets the right content and can view web pages on the internet.
What is Web Server?
Web server is a program which processes the network requests of the users and serves them with files that create web pages. This exchange takes place using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
Types of web servers
There are mainly four types of web servers – Apache, IIS, Nginx and LiteSpeed.
Apache Web Server
The Apache web server, developed by the Apache Software Foundation, stands as one of the most widely used web servers. With its open source nature, Apache is compatible with various operating systems including Linux, Windows, Unix, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and more. Around 60% of machines are powered by the Apache Web Server.
Thanks to its modular structure, customizing an Apache web server is straightforward. Being open source, you have the freedom to add your own modules to the server for making modifications that meet your specific needs.
Notably more stable than many other web servers, Apache presents manageable solutions for administrative challenges. Its installation can be effectively carried out on multiple platforms.
The latest iterations of Apache offer enhanced flexibility in handling a greater volume of requests compared to its earlier versions.
IIS Web Server
A Microsoft product, IIS is a server that offers all the features such as Apache. Since it’s not an open source, adding personal modules as well as modifying becomes a bit difficult.
It supports all the platforms that run Windows operating system. Additionally, you also get good customer support, if there is any issue.
Nginx Web Server
Nginx comes as the next open-source web server following Apache, incorporating an IMAP/POP3 proxy server within its features. Nginx stands out with its remarkable attributes, including exceptional performance, stability, effortless configuration, and efficient utilization of resources.
Nginx employs a highly scalable event-driven architecture to manage requests, avoiding the need for threads. This architecture ensures consistent and modest memory usage even when dealing with heavy loads. Its recent rise in popularity has led it to host approximately 7.5% of all global domains. Numerous web hosting companies have also embraced this server solution.
LiteSpeed Web Server
A high-performance Apache drop-in replacement, LiteSpeed (LSWS) is the 4th popular web server on the internet and is a commercial web server.
When you upgrade your web server to LiteSpeed, you will experience improved performance that too with low operating cost.
This server is compatible with the most common Apache features such as .htaccess, mod_rewrite and mod_security.
It has the ability to load Apache configuration files directly and work as a drop in replacement Apache with almost all the hosting control panels. It can replace the Apache within 15 minutes without any downtime.
LSWS replaces all the Apache functions which other front-end proxy solutions can’t do to simplify the use and make the transition from Apache smooth and easy.
An open source Java servlet container, Apache Tomcat functions as a web server. A Java program that expands the capabilities of a server is called as a Java servlet. Servlets can respond to any types of requests but they most commonly implement applications hosted on web servers. These web servlets are Java equivalent to other dynamic web content technologies such as PHP and ASP.NET. Sun Microsystems donated Tomcat’s code base to the Apache Software Foundation in 1999 which became a top-level Apache project in 2005. Currently, it powers just under 1% of all websites.
Released under the Apache License version 2, Apache Tomcat is typically used to run Java applications. But, it can be extended with Coyote, so that it can also perform the role of a normal web server that serves local files as HTTP documents.
Node.js is released under a mix of licenses.