Apache vs Nginx | What is Apache? | What is Nginx?

Apache uses a process-driven approach and Nginx uses event-driven approach to process user requests. Lets explore the difference between Apache and Nginx.

Apache vs Nginx

Overview

Although Apache and Nginx share many qualities, they should not be considered entirely interchangeable. Both open source web servers are different from one another and should be selected according to the needs of your web applications. In this article, we will discuss Apache vs Nginx comparison in detail.

What is Apache?

The Apache web server is one of the most popular servers on the internet and serves more than 27% of websites. Apache is mostly the first choice of developers due to its flexibility, power as well as widespread support, and detailed documentation. It supports dynamically loadable modules which allow developers to easily extend its functionality.

What is Nginx?

This article is about Apache vs Nginx comparison. Both web servers are open-source, configurable, and handle more than half of the world’s internet traffic.

Apache vs Nginx Comparison

In this section, let’s compare Apache and Nginx on the basis of support, documentation, content type, and configuration structure.

Architecture

Apache starts multiple server processes to share the workload at boot time. There is one parent process and many child processes. Each child process is responsible for creating server threads that handle incoming requests. Apache uses the Multi-Processing Module to assign child processes to accept requests and bind network ports. On the contrary, Nginx features an event-driven architecture. Nginx has a master process that controls port binding and configuration reading. The master process creates sub-processes according to a predictable process model, unlike Apache which allows the Nginx server to use resources more efficiently. For every new request, Nginx initiates an event and creates a file descriptor that takes up only a small process memory. This makes Nginx more scalable than Apache. Apache consumes much more process memory for each connection.

Modules

Both Apache and Nginx have the ability to modules in order to extend or modify its core functionality. Implementation for modules is different for both Apache and Nginx and the main difference is the loading of modules. In the case of Apache, modules are loaded dynamically only when there is a need for them. On the contrary, Nginx modules are integrated into the core and are loaded on boot even if you don’t need them. In that sense, Apache is a more customizable platform for developers as compared to Nginx. This is a limitation for users as far as flexibility is concerned but on the positive note, it means better security since dynamic modules can pose security concerns.

Support & Documentation

Apache is the clear winner here if we compare it on the basis of support and documentation because it has been in the market for so long. There is a large library of available documentation for the Apache server. Comparatively, Nginx is also becoming popular due to its high performance and resource utilization and hence its support and documentation are growing rapidly.

Static vs Dynamic Content

Apache serves both static as well as dynamic content on its own. On the other hand, Nginx does not have the ability to serve dynamic content so it passes those requests to third-party software. Apache servers handle static content using its conventional file-based methods.

File vs URI-Based Interpretation

Apache server has the ability to interpret a request as a physical resource on the filesystem or as a URI location. On the other hand, Nginx was designed to work as both a web server and a proxy server as well. Due to the architecture required for these two roles, it works primarily with URIs, translating to the filesystem when necessary. Nginx does not specify configuration for a filesystem directory and instead, it parses the URI itself.

Configuration

Apache provides the ability for developers to set configuration on directory level using the file referred to as .htaccess. But in the case of Nginx, there is no such mechanism to set configuration on directory level. Apache provides more flexibility than Nginx in terms of configurations.

Is Nginx better than Apache?

Nginx is faster than Apache for serving static content. So if your web application serves a lot of static content then yes Nginx is better and faster than Apache. As far as dynamic content is concerned, both web servers almost give the same performance so there is no clear winner here. Both Apache and Nginx run on almost all operating systems, but Nginx’s performance on Windows is not as good as compared to Apache’s. If your operating system is a Unix-like system and your web application is performance-critical then yes, Nginx is better than Apache.

Conclusion

Both Apache and Nginx are capable in their own ways. We have discussed Apache vs Nginx comparison, what is Apache, what is Nginx in detail and the difference between Apache and Nginx. Selecting one from these two most popular web servers totally depends upon the requirements of your web apps. Selection depends on your expectations with performance, resource utilization, speed, scalability, and support of a web server. Both have their own benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all web server, so use the solution that best suits your objectives and expectations.

Finally, containerize.com is continuously writing blog posts on further open source products and topics. Therefore, please stay in touch with the open source web servers category for regular updates. Moreover, you can follow us on our social media accounts FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

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