Nginx vs. Apache: When to Use One or the Other

Nginx vs Apache: When to Use Either One

The two most popular web servers in the world are Apache and Nginx, with over 60% of all websites worldwide being run by these two web servers. Both Apache and Nginx offer excellent performance and similar features. However, they differ in terms of their architecture, security, and performance.

Because both of these servers are pretty great, it can be hard to choose between them. It’s important to make the right decision since each web server has its own pros and cons.

In this tutorial, we will introduce Apache and Nginx, compare both servers and help you to decide which one is best for your website.

What is Apache?

Apache is an open-source web server developed and maintained by a community of open-source developers. It uses process-driven architecture where it creates a new thread for each connection request.

Apache also comes with a wide choice of modules that can be used to increase your web server’s features. In a nutshell, Apache is fast, reliable, secure, and highly customizable to meet the needs of many different environments through the use of extensions and modules.

What is Nginx?

Igor Sysoev, a Russian coder, created NGINX in an attempt to solve the “C10k” problem. Igor succeeded in his task – Nginx is able to handle over 10,000 simultaneous connections with ease. To accomplish this, Nginx uses event-driven and asynchronous architecture to help handle new connections. Nginx has many features . Some of them are listed below:

  • A load balancer and an HTTP cache.
  • A front-end proxy for Apache and other web servers.
  • A reverse proxy server for the HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP protocols.

Pros and Cons of Apache and NGINX Servers

Before hosting a website, you must choose a web server that meets the demands of your particular website. So it is very important for you to know the pros and cons of each server. In this section, we will discuss the pros and cons of each web server.

The Apache Webserver

Apache is very older than Nginx and is the top choice by many webmasters and developers. It runs on all operating systems including, Windows, Unix and Linux.

Advantages of Apache

  • Excellent Performance for serving dynamic content.
  • Load and unload modules dynamically.
  • Provides .htaccess that can be used to override system-wide settings on a per-directory basis.
  • Provides excellent support and documentation.
  • Uses one-connection-per-process model.
  • Comes with the mod_evasive and mod_security module that provides an additional layer of security.

Disadvantages of Apache

  • Unable to process a high amount of requests concurrently.
  • Slower in displaying static content when compared to nginx.
  • It has detailed configuration and administration capabilities. So it is not suitable for beginners.
  • Performance issues on heavy traffic websites.

The Nginx Webserver

Nginx is a simple, lightweight and fast web server. It is specially designed for high traffic websites.

Advantages of Nginx

  • Uses Non-blocking, Event-driven architecture that requires less CPU and memory.
  • It has a lot of options to optimize and serve static content. So serving the static content 2.5 times faster than Apache and consumes less memory.
  • Works great with a multi-processor environment.
  • Built-in configuration option to prevent DDoS attacks.

Disadvantages of Nginx

  • Can not process dynamic content natively.
  • Less extensive list of modules.
  • Supports Linux and Unix operating systems – Windows support is limited.
  • NGINX does not support something like the Apache’s .htaccess file.
  • Lack of log monitoring tools – Simply writes logs to files that you have to manually navigate.

When to Use Each Server

As described in this post, we can see that both Apache and Nginx are powerful, flexible, and all around excellent web servers. Apache is best for serving dynamic content, while Nginx is best for serving static content or media streams for high-traffic websites. It all boils down to the following:

You should use Nginx

  • If you are using a VPS or dedicated hosting.
  • You are running a high-traffic website with a lot of static content.
  • If you want to manage incoming traffic and distribute it to slower upstream servers.

You should use Apache

  • If you are using shared hosting.
  • If you value the supportive community and the wealth of resources it provides.
  • Web developers often do well with Apache – it’s easier to configure.

Conclusion

In the above guide, we covered what to look into when deciding whether Nginx or Apache would be best for you. Choosing which server works best is largely depending on your requirements, environment and decide the best option. Hopefully with the help of this tutorial, you now know when to use Apache or Nginx.


Regardless of the choice of web server, having managed Apache or managed Nginx hosting can help make your website hosting experience a joy instead of a headache. Our team of expert web administrators can help you set up your website or development environment quickly and easily.

Please consider sharing this post on social media if this tutorial helped you decide on which web server is right for your needs. If you have any questions or if you want to share which web server you chose, feel free to leave a comment in our comments section. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

To prove you are human please solve the following *