In the computing language, the term ‘Server’ refers to either a computer program or hardware or a software device that provides functionality or other devices or programmes by responding to the requests made by the network.
A server basically refers to a certain computer system that receives requests from the web and sends this requested information to these clients.
It can broadly be understood as a device which is equipped with and backed by certain specific programs that enable it to offer services to other devices that it shares this network with.
A Web Server mainly refers to server hardware or a software device that stores the web content and is used to host the web sites and produce the same as results when requested by the clients on the World Wide Web.
To store, process and deliver the web pages when requested by the clients is the most prominent and technically the key feature and purpose of a Web Server.
These web servers generally tend to carry one or more websites. The requests sent by the clients over the World Wide Web are generally processed by the Web Server over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the Web Pages are mostly delivered as HTML documents.
Web servers are at the very core of the concept of web hosting. A web server is always connected to the internet and each of these connected servers has a certain unique address.
The hosting providers are able to manage multiple domains on a single server because of the web servers.
Different types of web servers are available in the market for the developers to choose from, depending upon their preferences. The most prominent types of Web Servers available in the market are:
- Apache HTTP Server Web Server
- Internet Information Services (IIS) Web Server
- Lighttpd Web Server
- Sun Java System Web Server
- Jigsaw Server Web Server
- LiteSpeed server Web Server
- Node.js Web Server
Apache HTTP Web Server
Developed by the Apache Software Foundation, the Apache HTTP Web Server is one of the most popular Web Servers.
It is a free and open-source cross-platform web server software that was released under the terms of Apache License 2.0.
The key benefit of the Apache HTTP Web Server is that it tends to support almost all types of operating systems; be it Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Unix, FreeBSD and many more.
It is because of this that approximately around 60% of machines are run on the Apache HTTP Web Server.
Another distinguishing feature of the Apache Web Server is that it allows for a certain degree of customization very easily.
It owes this feature to its modular structure and the fact that it is open-source.
This implies that one has the freedom and scope to add new modules to the server as per his or her convenience and make any required modifications.
Some other noteworthy features of the Apache HTTP Server are:
- It can be easily installed on multiple platforms and function properly.
- Out of all the types of web servers available, the Apache HTTP servers are much more stable and easier in terms of functionality, especially the latest released versions which are capable of handling a distinguishingly greater number of client requests when compared to the other versions.
Internet Information Services Web Server (IIS)
The Internet Information Services Web Server is an extensible Web Server by Microsoft which was created with the Windows NT family.
It is because of this that Microsoft maintains this product and it works with each and every Windows Operating System Platform.
The Internet Information Services Web Server supports the HTTP, HTTP/2, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, and NNTP but unlike Apache is not open-source.
This makes the process of customization a little complicated and modifications are not that easy.
Lighttpd Web Server
The Lighttpd Web Server is another open-source Web Server. This Web server along with being very flexible and secure is specifically designed and optimized for high performance, speed-critical environments.
Lighttpd gets its name from a portmanteau of ‘light’ and ‘httpd’ and has been nicknamed ‘lighty’. Lighttpd defines itself in terms of security, speed, compliance, and flexibility.
A distinguishing feature of the Lighttpd Web Server is the efficiency that it offers especially in the case of servers suffering from load problems.
Sun Java System Web Server
Sun Microsystems used the brand Sun Java System to market computer software and this brand superseded the Sun ONE.
The Sun Java Web Server can be distinguished as a reliable, easy-to-use and secure web server specifically designed for large or medium sites.
Jigsaw Web Server
The Jigsaw Web Server is an object-oriented, full-functioning Web Server that offers an array of distinguishing features along with an advanced architecture that is written in Java.
The birth of the Jigsaw Web Server was primarily for the purpose of experimentation of new technology and was not intended to be a full-fledged release.
But the later versions of the Web Server took a leap and focused more on the development of better features.
LiteSpeed Web Server
The LiteSpeed Web Server which was released in 2003 became one of the most popular Web Servers in a short span of few years.
It was developed by the privately held LiteSpeed Technologies and was a web server that came with Open Source variants as well.
The LiteSpeed Web Servers are quite compatible with the features of the Apache Web servers since they use similar configurations.
Owing to this feature, the LiteSpeed Web Servers are capable of directly loading the Apache configuration files and can replace all Apache functions.
Node.js Web Server
Some of the prominent features of Node.js Web Server are:
- Even though it is based on the Single-threaded model, the Node.js Web Server is highly scalable which gives it an upper hand over the other traditional Web Servers.
Every client comes with a different set of requirements and it is based on these requirements that the Web Hosting companies decide which Web servers to opt for.