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Apache and Ngnix are two of the most popular open source web servers today. These web servers power most of the websites hosted over the internet and can handle a vast variety of workload. Although it may seem like these two are similar and provide the same output, they differ in their performance and working.

In this article, we will cover the basics of these two web servers and the difference between Apache and Nginx that set them apart.

Apache:

Apache HTTP Server or Apache as it is usually called was created in the year 1995 by Robert McCool. It is developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation. Apache web server is a secure, flexible and fast web server. Being one of the oldest web servers, it provides widespread support. It is one of the components of the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP)

In the early years after its inception, Apache was a popular and a widely used server mainly till around mid-2000s, however, over time there has been a fall in the number of active sites powered by Apache. According to a November 2018 survey by Netcraft, the total number of sites active on Apache are 31% and 34% of the top million websites.

Nginx:

Nginx (engine x) is a free and open source software developed in the year 2002 by Igor Sysoev mainly to overcome the performance limitations of Apache. Nginx web server can be used as a load balancer, reverse proxy, mail proxy, as well as, an HTTP cache.

As per a recent October survey by BuiltWith, it is used on 40.13% of the top 10,000 websites whereas, the total number of active sites on Nginx is 22%. Moreover, 26% websites out of the top one million websites run on Nginx web server. It has grown more popular in recent times owing to its lightweight resource utilization and easy scalability requiring minimal hardware.

Difference between Apache and Nginx
Now that we have a basic understanding of both Nginx and Apache. Let us delve into their differences.

  • Nginx vs Apache Performance:
    We’ll be checking the performance of Nginx vs Apache via event MPM (Multi-Processing Module) for both static and dynamic content.

    1. Static Content:
      According to one Benchmarking report, Nginx is about 2.5 times faster as compared to Apache. The results were concluded based on 1,000 concurrently running connections. Another test run by Speedemy ran 512 connections concurrently and found the results to be the same, Nginx twice as fast as Apache.
      This concludes that in terms speed and efficiency the overall performance of Nginx is far better than Apache when it comes static content.
    2. Dynamic Content:
      If your website is hosted on CMSs like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal then the chances of it having static content are very less as compared to a non-CMS website.
      We again look at Speedemy’s Benchmarking result and find that the performance is exactly the same. This is because most of the requests are processed in the PHP runtime environment as opposed to the core part of the web server. And the PHP runtime environment is almost the same for both the web servers.
  • Operating System:Apache runs on all Unix like systems like Linux, BSD, etc. as well as, completely supports Windows.Nginx too runs on modern Unix like systems however it has limited support for Windows. To get the best performance out of Nginx, it is recommended that you install it on Unix based operating systems.
  • Security
    When comparing Nginx vs Apache in terms of security it can be said they both fare exceptionally well with a great track record. Both the web server’s keep their users updated with the latest security tips like how to deal with various attacks like DDoS etc. as well as, how to mitigate them.Apache shares its security updates and historical releases regularly n their security reports. Nginx on the other hand too releases security advisories on a timely basis.

Towards the end

The most crucial decision is which web server when it comes to the hosting type of your website. If your website is hosted on Shared Hosting, then choosing Apache is convenient due to easy access of the .htaccess file. On the other hand, if you have VPS Hosting or Dedicated Hosting, then Nginx is the most preferred choice.

We at ResellerClub provide managed hosting and our Shared Hosting, as well as, WordPress Hosting comes pre-installed with Apache. Furthermore, our Plesk VPS Hosting and Dedicated Hosting offer compatibility for both Apache and Nginx.

However, the choice of web server depends more on the incoming traffic to your website. Should you have high traffic with a lot of static data then Nginx is a better choice. With dynamic content, either web server will do a good job. In the end, the hosting provider is what makes the difference when it comes to the performance of your website.
Well, there you have it, our comparison of Nginx vs Apache. If you have a preference or a comment do leave them in the comments section below.

H. Fatima

H. FatimaIn the days of yore, H. Fatima used to be an Engineer by profession and Writer by passion until she started pursuing full time writing. Her blog is a collection of short vignettes, stories and poems. She mostly writes what she deeply perceives and analyzes. It is her way of unwinding. Her interests include writing, reading (an avid reader), listening to various genres of music, volunteering and watching movies.

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