What is Apache? Overview: Apache Web Server

Apache HTTP Server is a free and open-source web server that distributes online information across the internet. It is popularly referred to as Apache, and following its inception, it quickly became the most used HTTP client on the web. It is often assumed that Apache receives its name from its development history and process of improvement through applied patches and modules, although this was rectified in 2000. The term is derived from the Native American tribe’s reverence for its tenacity and durability.

Before we get deep into Apache, let’s first go over what a web server is.

What is a Web Server?

Server software varies depending on whether the server is a file server, a database server, a mail server, or a web server. Each of these programs can access files stored on a physical server and use them for a variety of purposes.

A web server’s role is to serve websites on the internet. To do this, it acts as a bridge between the server and client machines. It fetches content from the server on each user request and sends it to the web.

The most challenging thing for a web server is to serve multiple web users simultaneously, each who is requesting a distinct page. Web servers process files written in a variety of programming languages, including PHP, Python, and Java.

They convert these to static HTML files and serve them to web users through their browsers. When you hear the term web server, see it as the tool in charge of proper server-client communication.

Features of Apache Web Server

  • Handling of static files
  • Loadable dynamic modules
  • Supports HTTP/2
  • FTP connections
  • Gzip compression and decompression
  • Bandwidth throttling
  • Perl, PHP, Lua scripts
  • Session tracking
  • Load balancingAuto-indexing
  • .htaccess
  • Compatible with IPv6
  • URL rewriting
  • Geolocation based on IP address

How Does Apache Web Server Work?

Although we refer to Apache as a web server, it is a piece of software that operates on an HTTP server. Its function is to establish a connection between a server and website users’ browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and so on) while transmitting files back and forth between them (client-server structure). The Apache software is also compatible with all operating systems, including Windows and Unix.

When a visitor loads a page on your websites, such as the homepage or the “About Us” page, their browser sends a request to your server, and Apache responds with all of the required files (text, images, etc.).

The HTTP protocol is used to communicate between the server and the client, and the Apache web server is in charge of keeping everything running smoothly and secure communication between the two machines.

Thanks to its open-source infrastructure, Apache is highly customizable. As a result, web developers and users can modify its source code to suit the type of website they’re constructing.

Furthermore, Apache has several modules that enable server administrators to switch on and off extra features. Security, caching, URL rewriting, password authentication, and other capabilities are available in the Apache web server’s modules.

Alternatives for Apache HTTP Server

Although Apache web servers are widely used, they are not the only web servers available. Here are some alternatives to Apache HTTP servers.

  • Nginx
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Cherokee
  • Microsoft IIS
  • Appweb
  • Hiawatha
  • Node.js
  • Lighttpd

Apache Pros and Cons

An Apache web server is a good choice for running your website on a robust and versatile platform. However, have some drawbacks that you should be aware of.

Pros

  1. You can even use it for commercial purposes, it’s open-source and free.
  1. Reliable and stable software.
  1. Security patches are often updated.
  1. Because of its module-based structure, it is adaptable.
  1. Simple to set up for newcomers.
  1. Platform-independent (works on both Unix and Windows servers).
  1. Static file delivery is optimized, and it is compatible with any computer language (PHP, Python, etc)
  1. Works with WordPress sites right out of the box.
  1. A large community and readily available support in the event of a crisis.

Cons

  1. Websites with a high volume of traffic may experience performance issues.
  1. Excessive configuration options might lead to security vulnerabilities.

How To Check Web Server?

If you want to know if your site is running on Apache or NGINX, you can typically (not always) glance at the HTTP header.

You may inspect your site’s HTTP header by doing the following:

Tools you can use,

  1. The network tab – Chrome Developer Tools
  1. Pingdom or GTmetrix Tool

Conclusion

Apache has proven to be a cornerstone in many popular stacks and the backbone of the early internet year over the last few decades. While its popularity is waning and the number of web server solutions is expanding, Apache continues to play an important part in many technological stacks and company infrastructures. Despite the constant influx of new technologies and servers, Apache is still a technology that every developer should be familiar with and configure.

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