The term web server is ambiguous because it can mean two very different things. On the one hand, the term denotes a web service that provides the components and content of a website, so that it can be displayed by a client such as a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc. In this case, web server means software or more precisely – a service that runs on a hosting product. And that brings us to the second meaning. The term web server can also be used as a name for a specific – usually very powerful – web hosting product. In this case, a hosting platform is meant.
Table of contents:
- HTTP server or: the web server as a service
- What web server software is there?
- How is website content transmitted by the webserver service?
- Faster website construction through caching
- What is the difference between an Apache HTTP server and Nginx web server?
- Rent a web server – How to find a solid hosting platform for web server services
The easiest way to the optimal web server and hosting product
HTTP server or: the web server as a service
The expression web server is derived from the English term server, because a web server actually has a serving function. It delivers (“serves”) the content of a website to clients. Clients can be a web browser or the crawler of a search engine. The content to be delivered is static content such as HTML documents, pictures, cascading style sheets (design instructions for page display) or other static content that is required for the construction and presentation of a website. Web servers are therefore often referred to as HTTP servers.
What web server software is there?
Server products from hosting providers such as DMTwebhosting generally use Linux or Windows operating systems. The most popular web server services for Linux-based systems are the Apache HTTP server and Nginx. Both web servers are open source. The proprietary Microsoft Internet Information Services (Microsoft IIS) webserver service is available for Windows-based server systems.
There is also other web server software such as Tomcat, Node.js, Jetty, Zope and many more. If you want to use these services on your hosting product, you need a self-administered server product, such as a virtual server, root server or dedicated server from DMTwebhosting.
Here you can find more information about DMTwebhosting server products
How is website content transmitted by the webserver service?
In the following, I give an overview of how an HTTP server works. When a website is called up, the webserver service receives an HTTP request and then delivers an HTTP response by transferring the components of the website accessed to the client. As already described, the client can be a web browser or the crawler of a search engine.
To date, web server services use a communication protocol developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989: the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP also created the basis for the World Wide Web. As early as 1994, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), a much more secure communication protocol for the Internet, was developed. With HTTPS, data can be encrypted and thus securely transmitted between the web server and client. In the beginning, HTTPS was mainly used for the secure transfer of very sensitive data, e.g. in financial transactions etc. Gradually, however, HTTPS became a new standard and was used to securely access order pages from online shops and online forms.
Since 2018, Google has been practically switching to secure HTTPS connections. In the current Google Chrome browser, for example, all websites that are still addressed via an insecure HTTP connection are marked as unsafe. Therefore, you should ensure that your website content is delivered via an encrypted HTTPS connection. All you need is an SSL certificate to secure your website.
Faster website construction through caching
The loading time of a website is one of the most important factors for the ranking and usability of your website. Because long loading processes when building the page make visitors flee. The longer the page construction takes, the more visitors disappear. That means: fractions of a second can decide whether to increase or decrease sales, especially if you run an online shop. It is all the more important to support web server services in their work and thus to make loading times faster, for example with server-side caching options.
What is caching?
Caching is the caching of content. This enables queries from a web client to be answered more quickly because the cached content is stored in a so-called buffer memory (cache). When a website is called up again, this content is practically immediately available and does not have to be reloaded. The advantage: the website builds up faster.
There are various options for server-side caching, for example:
With OPCaching, intermediate program code (also called byte code) can be buffered. Bytecode arises as an intermediate step in the conversion of the PHP source text into the executable microprocessor code. With the help of OPCaching, the execution of PHP-based applications can be significantly accelerated.
Depending on which hosting product you use, the corresponding PHP module for OPCaching must be activated or installed.
APC user cache
Depending on the web application you are using, certain PHP objects, such as a website menu, etc., can also be cached in the APC user cache and thus speed up the execution of the application.
What is the difference between an Apache HTTP server and Nginx web server?
The Apache HTTP Server has long been the world’s leading web server service. It was primarily developed for Linux-based systems, but also runs in Windows environments. One of the most important features of the Apache HTTP server is the .htaccess file. With the help of the .htaccess file, you can set up redirects, restrict access to directories, block website areas for search engine crawlers and much more.
The Apache HTTP server is part of the popular LAMP web service stack, a software bundle that consists of the following components:
- a Linux-based operating system
- the Apache HTTP server
- MySQL databases
- Program languages like PHP, Python, Perl or others
The Apache HTTP server is continuously being developed in order to efficiently process increasingly complex web requests. Nevertheless, scaling problems can arise. Apache reaches its limits, especially with heavily frequented websites.
A check at Google Trends shows that search queries and thus the importance of the Apache webserver has decreased in recent years. For this, a competitor has become increasingly important: Nginx.
Nginx was specially developed to solve the so-called C10K problem. (More information on the C10K problem) The challenge was to develop a web server capable of handling more than 10,000 calls made to a server at the same time. Nginx solves this challenge by not establishing additional connections, but processing the requests asynchronously and event-driven. Especially when it comes to delivering static web content, Nginx usually works twice as fast as the Apache HTTP Server, since it can provide more content in parallel. The system works stably even with fluctuating loads. RAM and CPU resources can be used evenly with Nginx.
There are fewer differences between the Apache and the Nginx when it comes to delivering dynamic content. Here both servers work about the same speed.
Apache is mainly used in Linux-based operating systems. The Apache HTTP server also runs under Windows operating systems with the same performance. In contrast, Nginx. This webserver service can also be used with Windows operating systems, but the Nginx develops its full performance in connection with a Linux system.
Rent a web server – How to find a solid hosting platform for web server services
The web server service provides the elements for displaying a website. Therefore, you need a “host system” on which you can operate, for example, an Apache HTTP server or Nginx web server. If you want to rent a webserver to run your website, there are numerous options. The offer starts with inexpensive web hosting products that you can rent from a hosting provider for just a few dollars per month. For the professional operation of a website, we recommend server products that can be configured and managed individually by yourself or your administrator.
What to look for when choosing the right hosting platform for your website
Do you run a complex website? Do you have a lot of visitors on your site? Then you need a powerful hosting product. This way you can prevent your webserver service from being overloaded when your page content is delivered.
With a low-cost web hosting product, many customers share the same system resources. If many customers want to use the same resources at the same time, this can lead to significantly slower loading times for complex websites and in extreme cases even to a system crash.
When choosing your hosting solution, you should consider:
- which applications do you want to run
- how complex your website is?
- how many visitors are likely to visit your website at the same time
Websites based on content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla etc. are complex websites, since the contents of these pages are generated dynamically from a database when the web is called up. When using CMS systems, make sure that the hosting product offers you dedicated hardware resources such as RAM. For demanding internet projects, we recommend a dedicated managed web server, such as the WebServer Dedicated from DMTwebhosting. Because in addition to dedicated RAM, you also have dedicated CPU resources available for these products. In addition, the operating system is completely managed by DMTwebhosting. So you can fully concentrate on the operation of your website.
What webserver services are available on a Host Europe hosting product?
DMTwebhosting web hosting products use the Apache HTTP Server.
On a Web server from DMTwebhosting, you can also use the Apache web server in combination with Nginx.
Virtual Server, RootServer and Dedicated Server Linux with Plesk have Apache pre-installed. Nginx and other web server services can be installed manually.
Virtual Server, RootServer Windows with and without Plesk use Microsoft MIIS. Nginx and other web server services can be installed manually.
The easiest way to the optimal web server and hosting product
Would you like to know which hosting platform and which webserver service is right for your web project? Contact our support, we will be happy to advise you.
About the author
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