Web Server

What is a Web Server?

Web servers facilitate the delivery of content and services to users worldwide.

Essentially, they serve as the fundamental infrastructure for Internet services, encompassing tasks such as responding to user requests, hosting websites, and overseeing data transmission.

Hence, grasping the concept of a web server is highly important for individuals navigating the digital realm. The web server can be referred to as web server hardware, web server software, or a combination of both working together.

Web Server Software

Web server software typically refers to the program or software application responsible for handling HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests from clients.

The primary job of a web server is to store and process the web content and display it to the user when requested. Apache HTTP server, Nginx, and LiteSpeed web Server are a few examples of web server software.

Web Server Hardware

On the other hand, the hardware for a web server refers to the physical hardware components used to host and run the software web server.

These are specialized computers, also known as servers, equipped with powerful processors, ample memory, network interfaces, and storage drives to efficiently handle the users’ demands of serving web content.

Static Vs. Dynamic Web Servers

A static web server or dynamic web server can be employed to publish a website:

Static Server Dynamic Serve
The content generated remains unchanged unless a developer updates it manually. Content generated is in real-time and is in response to user requests.
Easy to set up and maintain. Complex to set up and maintain.
Requires less resources. Requires more computational resources.
When requested, it delivers pre-existing content. Produces customized content that is interactive and personalized.

When choosing a static or dynamic server, the specific requirements of a website, along with factors such as content complexity, interactivity, and scalability should be considered.

How do Web Servers Work?

The core function of web servers is to manage the exchange of data and content between a user’s browser and the website they intend to access, thus serving as a mediator between the two parties.

A web server functions as a bridge between a user’s browser and the website they are trying to access. Whenever a user sends a request to access a web page, the web server:

1. Processes that request,

2. Retrieves the necessary files and resources such as CSS stylesheets, HTML, and images, and

3. Delivers them back to the user’s browser.

Uses of a Web Server

Web servers are commonly used to:

  • Host websites
  • Execute web applications
  • Facilitate file sharing
  • Handle Email services
  • Stream media
  • Power eCommerce platforms

These are just a few examples that illustrate the diverse range of uses for web servers. Moreover, one web server can also host multiple domains.

Types of Web Servers

Some common web server software available in the market are:

Apache HTTP Server: Known for its open-source nature, Apache is one of the most widely used web servers globally and dominates the digital landscape due to its flexibility.

Nginx (Engin X): Nginx has gained immense popularity amongst admins and developers due to its high-performance capabilities and ability to utilize resources effectively.

Litespeed Web Server: Litespeed Web Server offers superior performance with minimal system resource consumption, Litespeed web servers are recognized for their efficiency and exceptional speed.

In addition to the examples mentioned above, other commonly used web servers are Sun Java System, IBM family’s Domino servers, Microsoft Internet Information System (IIS), Apache Tomcat, and Google Web Server (GWS).