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Apache vs Nginx – Which is best?

Web servers are software tools that store, process, and deliver web pages to clients. Apache (refers to the ‘Apache HTTP Server) is a secure, open-source, web server application designed for the modern operating system. It was developed by Apache Software Foundation. Apache can be downloaded at no cost. Nginx is a lightweight, open-source HTTP and reverses proxy server and also an IMAP/POP3 proxy server.

Working of Apache

In order to handle additional connections, Apache creates threads and processes. The server can be configured by the administrator to control the maximum number of allowable processes. Too many processes exhaust memory and also apache refuses additional connections when the limit of the process is reached. Apache is flexible in terms of how it processes web requests. This is based on the Multi-Processing Module (MPM) used. The three main Apache MPMs are Process (Prefork) MPM, Worker MPM, and Event MPM.

Working of Nginx

Nginx works differently than Apache. Nginx does not set up a new process for each web request, instead, the administrator configures how many worker processes to create for the main Nginx process. Thousands of concurrent connections can be handled by each worker. To read data from disk, Nginx spins off cache loader and cache manager processes and load it into the cache and expire it from the cache when directed. Nginx can act as a reverse proxy server for TCP, UDP, HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP protocols. It can also act as a load balancer and an HTTP cache. Nginx uses a single thread to handle the web server connections.

Strengths of Apache

  1. Apache provides a wide range of built-in support.
  2. Support for the latest HTTP 1.1 protocol.
  3. Simple, powerful file-based configuration.
  4. Support virtual hosts, PHP scripting, Java Servlet, and JSP. Support for Secured Socket Layer (SSL).
  5. Apache has extensible Plugin Architecture.

Weaknesses of Apache

  1. Performance and scalability issues.
  2. Slows down under load.

Strengths of Nginx

  1. Lightweight and able to handle more than 10,000 simultaneous connections.
  2. Takes less memory and other resources.
  3. Reverse proxy with caching.
  4. Load balancing and fault tolerance.Embedded Perl scripting.

Weaknesses of Nginx

  1. Lack of built-in support for Python and Ruby.
  2. Nginx Plus version is not free.


Apache can handle static content using its conventional file-based methods. It can also serve the dynamic content by embedding a processor of the language in question into each of its worker requests. Nginx does not have any ability to process dynamic content natively but it serves static content much faster than Apache. NGINX is about two times faster and consumes a bit less memory (4%).


Even though both apache and Nginx have a secure code base, both get stuck by security vulnerabilities. Comparing both, Nginx is slightly more secure than Apache with its centralized single configuration management.

Operating System

Apache has full support for Microsoft Windows and runs on all kinds of Unix-like systems.
Even though Nginx has support for windows, its windows performance is not as strong as other platforms.

Apache vs Nginx Comparison

  1. Apache is easier to configure than Nginx configuration is not easy.
  2. In comparison to Nginx, Apache has excellent documentation.
  3. Event-driven Architecture (EDA) is used by nginx whereas Apache uses process-driven architecture.
  4. Nginx has non-blocking nature while Apache has blocking architecture.
  5. Nginx uses Single-thread that means that it doesn’t create a new process for a new request. But in Apache, a new process is created for a new request.
  6. Nginx has a very low memory consumption for a static page but, in case of Apache, memory consumption is high because of the requirement of creating a new process for each request.
  7. Nginx is extremely fast as compared to Apache when it comes to serving static pages.
  8. Nginx lacks the support of operating systems such as OpenVMS and IBM, but Apache supports the complete range of operating systems.
  9. As Nginx comes up with required core features, it is much lighter than Apache



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