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Web Server Types: Apache vs Nginx vs IIS vs Lighttpd

There are different types of Web servers which are crucial component of the internet and are responsible for serving up the pages we view on our web browsers. There are several different types of web servers available some of them are Apache, Nginx, Microsoft IIS, and Lighttpd. Each of these web servers has its own unique set of features and capabilities, making them well-suited for different use cases.
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web servers type

The pages we view on our web browsers are delivered via web servers, which form the backbone of the internet. Web servers come in a variety of varieties, each with a special set of features and capabilities. The most popular web server types and their applications will be discussed in this article.

Table of Contents

Compare Apache vs Nginx vs IIS vs Lighttpd in a nutshell

This table is a summary of the most common and popular web servers and their features, it’s not an exhaustive list of all available web servers but will compare the most common ones.

Web Server
Open Source
Operating Systems
Use Cases
Windows, Linux, macOS
High-traffic websites & flexibility
Windows, Linux, macOS
High-traffic websites, performance, low resource
Microsoft IIS
security features
Windows, Linux, macOS
Low-end hardware, embedded systems

All of the above web servers are supported by Netspace™ by our web hosting services and can be installed over our dedicated servers or VPS servers just select the right OS type and you are good to go. 

Apache Web Server

apache webserver

One of the most popular web servers in use today is Apache web server. It is open-source software that is available for download for free and may be used with a number of different operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Netspace™ Linux shared hosting is also based on the apache web server and managed through Cpanel.

Official Website: Apache Webserver

History of Apache Web Server

The Apache Software Foundation originally made the Apache web server available in 1995.
A group of web developers that aspired to produce more dependable and effective web server software collaborated to develop it. With a market share of more than 60%, Apache has developed through time to become one of the most popular web servers worldwide.

Key Features of Apache Web Server

The modular architecture of Apache is one of its primary characteristics. It may therefore be readily modified and expanded to meet the requirements of various websites and apps. PHP, Perl, and Python are just a few of the many programming languages and technologies that Apache supports.

The capacity of Apache to manage several requests at once is another crucial characteristic. Multi-processing is a technique that enables Apache to serve a number of customers concurrently without noticeably degrading its performance.

Additionally, Apache may be set to utilise several authentication techniques, such as basic and digest authentication, and it includes built-in support for security features like SSL and TLS encryption.

Understanding Nginx Web Server

NGINX web server

Popular open-source web server Nginx, pronounced “engine-x,” is renowned for its excellent speed and little resource use. We will go through the fundamentals of Nginx, its salient characteristics, and how it differs from other web servers like Apache in this post.

Official Website: Nginx Webserver

History of Nginx

Igor Sysoev, a Russian web developer, created Nginx in 2002. He developed Nginx to handle high-traffic websites such as online gaming and social networking platforms. Nginx has grown in popularity since its first release and is currently used by some of the world’s top websites, including Netflix, Airbnb, and Dropbox.

Key Features of Nginx

Nginx’s capacity to manage a large number of concurrent connections is one of its primary advantages. Unlike Apache, which employs a process-based paradigm, Nginx has an event-driven design, allowing it to manage a large number of connections while consuming minimum resources. As a result, Nginx is ideal for high-traffic websites and apps.

Nginx also has built-in functionality for reverse proxying and load balancing. This enables Nginx to disperse incoming traffic over numerous servers, which improves the performance and dependability of your website or application. Nginx may also be used as a cache server, which can dramatically increase the performance of your website.

Reverse proxying, global load balancer and load balancing support are two more important aspects of Nginx. By doing this, Nginx may divide incoming traffic among several servers, enhancing the functionality and dependability of your website or application. Nginx may also be utilised as a cache server, which will drastically speed up your website.

Understanding IIS Web Server​

IIS web server

The Microsoft IIS web server software suite is included with the Windows operating system. It is made to offer a dependable and secure platform for hosting and administering web-based services, applications, and content. IIS is a popular option for many businesses and web developers because it offers a wealth of sophisticated capabilities for hosting high-performance, scalable web applications.

Official Website:  IIS Web Server

History of IIS Web Server

IIS (Internet Information Services) is a web server software developed by Microsoft Corporation. It was first introduced in 1995 as a part of the Windows NT 4.0 operating system.

Throughout its history, IIS has undergone various upgrades and additions to its features and capabilities, including support for HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and SMTP protocols.

In the late 1990s, IIS became a popular web server for businesses and organizations due to its integration with Microsoft’s Windows operating system and support for ASP (Active Server Pages) scripting.

In the early 2000s, IIS faced security vulnerabilities and attacks, leading Microsoft to release regular security patches and updates.

In recent years, IIS has continued to evolve and expand its capabilities, including support for newer web technologies such as ASP.NET and support for cloud-based deployment through Azure.

Today, IIS remains a widely-used web server, serving millions of websites and applications across the world.

Key Features of IIS Web Server

IIS Web Server (Internet Information Services) has several key features, including:

  1. Support for multiple protocols: IIS supports HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, and other protocols, allowing it to serve a wide range of web-based applications.

  2. Integration with Windows: IIS is integrated with the Windows operating system, making it easy to manage and deploy for users familiar with Windows.

  3. Dynamic Content Generation: IIS supports server-side scripting languages such as ASP and ASP.NET, allowing for dynamic content generation.

  4. Scalability: IIS is designed to be scalable, allowing it to handle high levels of traffic and support large, complex web applications.

  5. Security: IIS includes built-in security features such as request filtering, IP and domain restrictions, and SSL/TLS encryption, making it suitable for secure, business-critical web applications.

  6. Management Tools: IIS includes various management tools, such as the IIS Manager and the Command-Line Interface (CLI), for easy administration and configuration.

  7. Flexibility: IIS can be extended through the use of modules and components, allowing for customization and integration with other software and systems.

Understanding Lighttpd

Free, open-source, and lightweight HTTP server Lighttpd was created with great performance and low resource usage in mind. The world’s most popular HTTP server software, Apache, may be effectively replaced with this HTTP server programme. We’ll talk about Lighttpd’s advantages and features in this post, as well as how it stacks up against competing HTTP server programmes.

Official Website:  Lighttpd

Advantages of Lighttpd

Using Lighttpd as your HTTP server software has various benefits. Its lightweight design, which results in minimal resource usage and better performance, is one of the key advantages. For websites and online applications housed on servers with constrained resources, this makes it the perfect option. Lighttpd is a great option for high-traffic websites since it is built to manage enormous volumes of traffic and can support thousands of concurrent connections.

Lighttpd’s modular architecture, which enables administrators to quickly expand its capability via the use of plugins, is another benefit. There are several plugins available, including ones for caching, load balancing, and security. Administrators may quickly instal and set up these plugins, allowing them to modify the Lighttpd configuration to suit their unique requirements.

Key Features of Lighttpd

Lighttpd is a well-liked option for HTTP server software due to a number of important features it provides:

  1. Lightweight design: Lighttpd has a lightweight design, resulting in low resource utilization and improved performance, making it ideal for servers with limited resources.

  2. High traffic handling capacity: Lighttpd can handle up to thousands of concurrent connections, making it ideal for high-traffic websites.

  3. Modular architecture: Lighttpd has a modular architecture, allowing administrators to easily extend its functionality through the use of plugins.

  4. Efficient memory usage: Lighttpd is optimized for efficient memory usage, helping to improve the performance of web applications and websites.

  5. Security features: Lighttpd offers a range of security features, including the ability to limit the number of concurrent connections from a single IP address and support for SSL/TLS encryption.

  6. Customization options: With its modular architecture, administrators have the ability to customize their Lighttpd setup to meet their specific needs.

  7. Compatibility with different operating systems: Lighttpd is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Linux, BSD, macOS, and Windows.


In conclusion, when choosing the best HTTP server software for your web applications or websites, it is important to consider the specific needs of your project. Each of the four options, Apache, Nginx, Microsoft IIS, and Lighttpd, have their own strengths and weaknesses and can be suitable for different use cases.

Because of its adaptability and compatibility for many different technologies, Apache is a great choice for sophisticated web applications. On the other hand, Nginx is renowned for its performance and scalability, making it perfect for websites with large traffic. With a variety of functionality and close compatibility with Windows-based systems, Microsoft IIS is a popular option for Windows-based servers. With its lightweight design and efficiency optimization, Lighttpd is a great choice for servers with constrained resources.

Ultimately, the best HTTP server software for your project will depend on your specific requirements, including performance, security, compatibility, and customizability. Consider carefully the benefits and limitations of each option before making your final choice.

Tarandeep Kaur
Tarandeep Kaur
I am working with NetSpaceIndia company for almost 7 years and have enjoyed sharing my words on different topics. I with my team mates focus together to get high-quality traffic to the website.
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