Back to the Basics #4: Web Server Software

As we continue our overview of the very basics of dedicated server hosting, it is appropriate at this time to look at web servers. Dedicated servers have a wide variety of uses, from application hosting to gaming, but web hosting is one of the most prominent. As the entertainment and business worlds become more integrated into the web, we may even see web servers used for applications and gaming.

When it comes to web server software, there is one dominant force that stands alone, far above the rest. That is Apache HTTP Server. It is by far the most widely-used web server software on the Internet. It has been hosting millions of websites for well over a decade and is regarded as generally secure, reliable, and scalable.

Nevertheless, there are other web server options, all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Among the top web servers after Apache are Microsoft IIS, Nginx, and Lighttpd. There are also many proprietary derivatives of Apache and some smaller web server projects that certain system administrators might find useful.

Your choice of web server may depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of web applications and programming languages you use
  • Your operating system choice (IIS, for example, runs exclusively on Microsoft Windows servers)
  • The volume of daily traffic on your site
  • The depth of features and extensibility you require

Various web servers may claim to have advantages over others in terms of speed and security, but much of that is based on your own configurations and application performance.