Web Servers


In this tutorial, we will discuss the web servers.

Table of contents.

  • Introduction
  • Technical Overview
  • Features List
  • Popular web servers

Web Servers Introduction

The Question is “What is the Web Server?”. Fundamentally a web server is a combination of computer hardware and software whose responsibility is to deliver internet web pages that can contain images, texts, etc. It could be on the Internet and intranet (local network) infrastructure. Hosting companies have dedicated machines on which Web Server software is running. Due to extraordinary capabilities of these machines, a web server can respond to thousands of requests.Windows and Linux are two type of Operating system that nowadays commonly running on these server machines mostly Linux. There are Others also, For Linux machines “Apache” is the Web Server software and for Windows machines “Internet Information Server – IIS” is the Web Server software.

Web Servers technical overview

Web Server is a technology which surfs the web based on the client request. Web servers work on Hyper Text Transfer Protocol – HTTP.Web servers can only handle directly static requests like HTML pages, Images, etc. It is possible for a web server to handle dynamic requests like server-side programming, database connections, dynamic generation of HTML pages, etc. through various plugins.

Web Servers Topology

The browser makes a request to the web server through HTTP and then web server after understanding the request sends back the response to the browser.

Web Server Topology

  • Web server receives the HTTP request coming from the client
  • Extracts the file name from the URL and search the files in its storage area.
  • Now in the last step it the request is authorized sends the response back to the client through HTTP.

Web servers Features List

Able to host websites: On the world wide web websites are made accessible by the web servers. There are companies like iPage, HostGator and many others that provide best services for web hosting.
Free hosting, dedicated hosting and shared hosting are some of the types of hosting.

Virtual hosting: Not all but many web servers also provide virtual hosting support, in which you can make a virtual web server, you can also host website and other provide other services.

Storage Capacity: Web servers have large storage capacity, a web server can store multiple sites at a time due to its large storage capacity.

Access Control: Web servers has the feature of limiting the user access this can be achieved by Authentication and Authorization techniques.

Scripting Support in web Servers: To handle the dynamic request and respond them accordingly the web servers has the web scripting capabilities. PHP is one of the popular web scripting languages there are others also like Perl, Ruby, Python, ASP, etc.

Popular Web servers

According to Netcraft, Web Server Survey the market share of various web servers are shown below.

Web Servers market share
Market share %

Apache and Microsoft are the top most web servers following them is the Nginx.

There is another survey of most “Active sites” on the web servers. According to results as shown below, Apache and Microsoft are leading, following them is the Nginx.

active sites result
Active sites %

According to another report, the “Market Share of Computers” for various web servers is shown below.

Market share of Computers
Market share of Computers

By analyzing the results and concluding the survey, we can easily tell the top most web server is Apache web server. After that Microsoft is in the Queue, following them is the NGINX. There are others too, but the results vary.

Apache HTTP Server:

This is the one of the most top and with greatest market share web server. It works on HTTP; it is an open source server; it is a secure and efficient web server. Nowadays it is mostly running on Windows and Linux, but it can also be operated on other operating systems. Its features include authentication module, server-side programming support, enhanced security modules, different intrusion detection and prevention modules, virtual hosting support and many other. Its architecture allows working in Multi-Processing Modules (MPM) to enhance its efficiency. Each request is handled in a separate thread. The ability to handle a large number of requests is due to the MPM. MPM also helps to increase the throughput.

Microsoft Web Server:

Internet Information Services IIS is the Microsoft web server first started as a research project at the University of Edinburgh. Some of the IIS features include authentication modules, security modules, content modules, Compression modules, Caching modules and much more.IIS works on request processing architecture for more details see IIS Architecture. Some of the components of the IIS are Protocol Listeners, HTTP stack, and WWW services.