Web Servers and How They Work



Nginx Web Server

Pronounced engine X, Nginx is a free and open-source web server released in 2004. It’s an IMAP/OP3 proxy server that provides HTTP services to users. It’s easy to run on Mac OS, Linux, Solaris, and AIX due to its open-source nature.

Rather than use threads to create a new process for every request made by users, the server handles the requests in one thread using the asynchronous approach. That means it uses a highly scalable, event-driven architecture that utilizes small and predictable amounts of memory under load. That significantly enhances the amount of memory it needs, even when the data load is relatively small.

Due to its stability, it’s mainly used for media streaming, caching, handling of static files, load balancing, and auto-indexing. It’s also known for the high performance that it offers with simple configuration and low resource usage. Recommended minimum hardware:

Nginx is a Linux-based web server which is used as a reverse proxy, virtual host, load balancing server. Nginx is software, free and open source software, released under the GNU General Public License. It can be downloaded and then installed onto your Linux machine.


The NGIX web server is an efficient, easy to configure and maintain. You can either download the NGIX software or you can burn it onto a CD or DVD and install it yourself. Once installed, you can then either manually configure it or by using its graphical user interface. You just need to follow the instructions displayed on the screen. The system will automatically assign IP addresses to the configured interfaces.




For configuration, you have to open a console window and enter a password. The configuration files are located in the directories /etc/nginx and /root/. You can read the configuration files or set the default values in them. The configuration files contain all the options that you may wish to configure. For instance, the 'sites' option lets you select the sub-domain that you want to serve, their names, their contents and other such options. The 'rand' command will randomize the requested pages and is useful for testing purposes.


The Nginx web server's features include; a built-in FTP, a built-in web root directory, a built-in mod rewrite module and a variety of different content types. There is also an HTTP library with various methods for serving web pages. It can be easily used with PHP, Perl or Python. SSL and LAMP support is provided. SSL is used to provide secure socket layer (SSL) for the incoming and outgoing pages. LAMP is a mechanism that allows developers to easily write reusable, maintainable applications.




The Nginx package also contains a simple command line client that allows to easily debug any problems that might be occurring. It has extensive logging facilities. It can be used to debug PHP scripts, Perl applications and Python scripts. It can be used for serving files from and to the FTP. It supports ICQ protocol. Web browsers that support the Geolocation feature can make use of this server.


Nginx also has an extensive toolbox, including various debuggers, code scanners, and HTTP analyzers. It is used to debug the CGI-BIN process. It is also possible to trace and diagnose problems in Apache, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby and other web servers. It supports Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems.



The Nginx package includes several well documented modules that are used for performing authentication, language translation, keyword processing, cookie management, HTTP authentication, site maps, URL redirection, search engine optimizer and much more. It has an extensive control module that provides a variety of functions such as controlling the FTP, suEXEC, mod_dht, apache2, and rewrite modules. Nginx support several databases like MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, Informix, Sybase, Ctree, HSQL, and Syslite. It also provides support for HTTP servers like Apache, PHP, and Unix.


Nginx support is used to build a highly efficient and scalable fully managed system that will ensure that your web pages are delivered safely and effectively. It has been written in Java, C and Python programming languages. It is free to download and use under both BSD and GNU licenses.



Nginx support can improve the performance of your website considerably if it is run with high levels of traffic. One Nginx configuration will enable you to build about 700MB websites with just about a minute amount of CPU time. This will enable your website to be used by many clients. Using Nginx web servers will enable you to have the control and flexibility that are needed in today's webmaster world.



The Nginx web server offers excellent reliability, high speed, security and scalability. With this web server, the loading of web pages are much faster than before. When a visitor sent a request to your website, the web server sends the requested page immediately without waiting for the whole lot of data to download all at one go. This will reduce the server congestion considerably, making your website easily accessible to your visitors. It also ensures that your website will load more quickly when a new document is downloaded from your server.


Most companies take advantage of Nginx web server security to protect their valuable websites from online attacks. The SSL certificate and the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol are two important technologies that ensure secure web communications by enabling it through a secure process known as security encryption. They are very complex protocols developed to distinguish between legitimate web traffic from fraudulent traffic, including phishing and malicious activity. These protocols help ensure that your website visitors are not attacked by anyone intending to do harm, and they prevent them from having their privacy invaded by those wishing to access credit card numbers or other sensitive information.


Another benefit is that it enables you to modify your web pages easily without any hassle. For example, you can add a new menu item or install other modules without restarting the entire system. Webmasters also get to have control over the DNS server settings. These are very useful especially for people who do not have or do not want to use their own IP addresses for their websites. There are a number of reasons why a webmaster should use a Nginx package, rather than using another technology like PHP.


IIS webserver

The Internet Information Services (IIS) server is an extensive web server from Microsoft. It works with all the Windows operating system platforms, including Windows NT/2000 and 2003 and OS gadgets. It can also support HTTP, HTTPS, HTTP/2, SMTP, FTP, and NNTP. This makes the high-performing server relatively easy to administer it. Microsoft offers excellent customer care for users in case of any issue if you are willing to pay for support.

Note: Unlike Apache and Nginx, IIS is not open source, and hence it has some development limitations, and its clients cannot modify it according to their project requirements. It needs a min of 4 cores, 8G ram, and 1G disk.


Apache webserver

Apache was developed by the Apache Software Foundation. It’s an open-source, cross-platform server, and therefore it can support virtually all types of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, Unix, Apple Mac OS, and FreeBSD. It is easy to install and use on different platforms and solve administrative issues successfully. It’s more stable than other servers, and the recent version offers the feasibility to handle more requests from clients. It also allows for customization easily, and thus users can add new modules to the server to meet their needs.

Features of Apache Web Server


Google webserver (GWS)

GWS is a custom Linux server used mainly by Google for its web infrastructure and exclusively inside its ecosystem for web hosting. While it’s not open-source, GWS has high-performing features and boosts site stability, making it among the top four most popular servers in the world. Web page requests by clients on Google will mainly provide GWS in the HTTP header and indication that the software runs effectively.


Lightspeed web server

Launched in 2003, Lightspeed is among the top five most popular servers in the world. While it uses the same configurations as Apache, it operates at an extremely high speed. It allows users to handle thousands of requests at the same time while using minimal CPU and memory. It completely eliminates the use of 3rd party caching layers and has zero downtime.


The server boasts features that don’t compromise on security and convenience. It’s compatible with features such as .htaccess,mod_rewrite, and mod_security. Furthermore, unlike other front-end proxy web servers, Lightspeed simplifies usage and enhances performance with low operating expenses.


Jigsaw server

Jigsaw is written in Java language and is a full-functioning and object-oriented server offering different features coupled with advanced architecture. It’s an open-source web server that means users can access its codes and add the changes they need and upload your module. It can run on various platforms provided the device supports java modifications and language, including Unix, Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X. It can also run PHP programs and CGI (common gateway interference) scripts.


Note: The birth of Jigsaw was not intended to be a full-fledged release, and its primary purpose was the experimentation of new technology. However, the subsequent versions focused on bettering its features, making it one of the more popular servers.



What Is the Most Popular Web Server?

Nginx is the most popular server, with 34% of all active websites using it. That’s because it’s lightweight and very fast. Apache follows with 32% of active sites using the server, and IIS is at the third spot. GWS has hosted numerous sites during the last few years and is now the most popular after Apache, Nginx, and IIS. Lightspeed follows GWSwith.

When choosing a web server, users need to consider the applications and amount of traffic it can handle. You can check out the above web servers to compare their loading balancing, performance, and load limit to find one that suits your needs.


Cloudflare Server    
Google Servers    
Apache Traffic Server    


How Do Web Servers Work?

When a user requests a web page from a server, the process follows a few steps:


Getting IP address: The user needs to specify the URL in the browser’s address bar. Then, the browser obtains the IP (internet protocol) address from the domain name. This is done by either searching in its cache or translating through Domain Name System (DNS).


Browser requests webpage: Since the browser is aware of the IP address, it now requests the specific file from the server via an HTTP request.


The server sends requested information: The server accepts the web page request, finds the information, and sends it back to the browser via HTTP. If the requested content doesn’t exist or something goes wrong, the server responds with an error message. For instance, the server will display error 401 if the user keyed in incorrect credential information like a password. Error 404 is displayed when the requested pages don’t exist. More result codes:


Browser displays requested web page: When the browser receives the appropriate webpage requested, it displays it for the user to view.