Want to find out what would be the fastest server you can get? In this article, we will compare Apache and NGINX, as well as represent all limitations and key benefits of both services.
First of all, the best would be to see what are the differences between NGINX and Apache. There's one main difference, and it definitely is design architecture. When we take a look at how Apache works, we can easily see that it uses a process-driven approach. Besides that, it's also capable to create a new thread for each new request that arrives. What's different with NGINX is that it always uses an event-driven architecture. With just one thread, it's capable to handle numerous requests.
Okay, now that is clear, let's take a look at what Apache's HTTP server looks like. It's an open-source platform web server. Apache is also known as httpd. Today, Apache Foundation maintains this server, but it was originally made by Tim Berners Lee 26 years ago.
Let's share some interesting information about the Apache server first. The foundation of this server manages its services and entire brand on its own. An open community of developers is maintaining those services on their own. Did you know that Apache already runs almost 50% of all websites on our entire planet? It runs on Linux but is also a component of PHP, MySQL, and other LAMP.
Okay, now that is clear, let's share some interesting and important information about NGINX as well. This server's name is pronounced Engine X and it was released in 2004. Did you know that today, NGINX actually represents more than just one server? To be completely honest with you, NGINX is definitely more popular than Apache. We will explain why is that so in this article, but here are some interesting facts about Engine X first.
When the NGINX server appeared, people used it only together with Apache. It's a complete web server that is capable to deal with the full spectrum of different and numerous server tasks. If you are searching for something you'd be able to use for HTTP caching, a proxy, a mail proxy, or just as a load balancer, NGINX would probably be your best choice.
Okay, now is the time to compare these two servers based on important parameters. We will start with basic architecture. We've already mentioned that Apache and NGINX have different design architectures, but what we haven't told is that they also respond to different traffic conditions, as well as handle traffic in their own ways. Above, we have also explained how their architecture works, based on the number of requests they could handle. Here, the winner would definitely be NGINX because of its lightweight structure, but also because it's a bit faster.
Let's take a look at the differences that are based on their performances. Static and dynamic content are processed in different manners within these two servers. For Apache, it's all based on a file method, while for NGINX such things are done in a faster way. Also, handling the load makes NGINX the winner here again.
When we think of dynamic content, it's also easy to realize the difference between these two servers. For example, NGINX doesn't process dynamic content at all. It sends those to external processes. Of course, you can get the same result in the end as with Apache, but the process is a bit different, and for many people - too complicated. Therefore, we will here say that Apache may be the winner because it processes dynamic content easily. Still, for every static content, NGINX still overpasses the possibilities of Apache.
Would OS support be important to consider as well while choosing the best server? We think it would. Apache supports literally all Unix-like systems, while NGINX supports a huge amount of them, but still not every one of them. Apache is also completely compatible with Windows, while NGINX does that only partially. It's obvious - for this performance, Apache is the winner.
Request interpretation. Apache is able to pass file system location, while NGINX passes URI, with the purpose to interpret requests. Users claim that NGINX is the winner within this field because of faster interpretation and response.
Let's say a few more words about feature modules. Probably, this will show us who the final winner would be. For Apache, there are 60 official modules you can use, while for NGINX you can get 3rd party core modules. This way, NGINX represents a bit smarter and lighter server than Apache.
Overall, NGINX would definitely be the winner. Yet, if you find Apache good for your needs and if it benefits you enough, there's no problem with continuing to use it. But be free to explore many other options NGINX can offer you and stay surprised with improved performances.