Apache vs Nginx – What is The Difference?
In the world of web hosting, you’ll come across two very popular web servers: Apache and Nginx. Both are the most popular web servers for Linux. They both serve over 50% of all web traffic on the Internet. It’s no surprise that these two are so popular. This article will compare the two to see which is better for your web server needs.
Both Apache and Nginx have a lot of the same features. They both are open source projects. They are both made for the same purpose, which is serving content over the Internet; however, they are very different in the way they serve their content.
Since it’s release, Apache has been a mainstay piece of technology used to power various websites. Apache works well with PHP, Perl and other languages based on the Common Gateway Interface (CSI) and the HTTP protocol. Apache’s flexibility with web technologies makes it an extremely economical choice for hosting websites of all sizes.
Apache is easy to install and comes with a large number of features. Apache uses a multi-process approach which means it creates a new thread for each request. Apache has a variety of multi processing modules (MPMs) which define how clients are served. Three main MPMs are used :
This module creates a new process with a single thread to handle a single connection at a time. This module is very fast as long as the number of connections is lower than the number of processes. The module performance degrades substantially when the number of connections becomes higher than the number of processes and is also very hard to scale.
This module creates processes that can handle multiple threads, which means each process can handle multiple connections. This module is much more efficient than Prefork and is much easier to scale.
Very similar to how Worker MPM works but handles Keep alive requests better. This protects the module from getting overflowed with Keepalive requests.
Apache is very flexible and user-friendly and is known for its wide support, especially the fact that it supports PHP, meaning it supports serving dynamic content, which is very important, especially if you are planning on streaming video from your server or are going to use a CMS like WordPress.
- Great flexibility
- Large community
- Support for dynamic content
- Spawns new process for each request which makes it much less efficient
Nginx is also very popular as a web server. It was developed by Igor Sysoev and released to the public in 2004. Igor made it explicitly to outperform Apache and address the C10K challenge, which is serving 10 thousand concurrent connections.
Nginx utilizes an asynchronous event-driven architecture. Nginx creates a worker process that can handle thousands of concurrent connections by placing each event in a loop while processing connections asynchronously.
This makes Nginx much more efficient in serving static content than Apache and enables it to scale enormously on minimal resources; however, it limits the flexibility of Nginx.
Another problem with Nginx is that it doesn’t support dynamic content forcing their users to pass their dynamic requests to an external processor and wait for the content to be rendered so Nginx can then relay it, which can complicate things and affect performance
- Lighter and more efficient than Apache
- Able to 10k simultaneous connection on low system resources
- Best for static content
- Community support isn’t as great as Apache
- Doesn’t support dynamic content natively
- Less flexibility
When both are used on the same website, they both serve the same purpose. However, there are subtle differences between the two that a web developer needs to be well aware of. Nginx is less flexible than Apache, making it unsuitable if you want a fully-configured and dynamic website. Nginx is also faster and can provide support for various protocols and different sets of coding standards. In the end, it is the preference of the website owner as to which type of web server is best.