What is a Web Server? And What Types of Web Servers Are There?

Web server is a program that uses HTTP to serve files and create web pages for users as a response to the requests of HTTP clients.

A web server is a server that delivers an XML file to another device. A web server is simply an Internet server that responds via HTTP to requests to deliver content or services.

Let’s take an example, if you are working on your computer, browsing your web and a message pop ups from your friend that “I had just read a great article at the following URL: https://www.hostpoco.com/blog“.

Now, enter the URL in your browser and hit Enter. That’s all!

It doesn’t really matter where your website is located in the world, as long as the page that you browsed appears immediately on your computer screen.

Web servers are never disconnected from the internet. Each web server has an unique address. It consists of a sequence of four numbers, ranging from 0 to 255. These numbers are separated by a period (.).

Hosting providers can manage multiple domains and users on one server with the web server. Web hosting providers rent space on servers or clusters of servers to people who want to establish their online presence through a website.

Types of web servers

There are four main types of web servers: Apache,IIS, Nginx and LiteSpeed

Apache Web Server


Apache web server is one the most widely used web servers created by the Apache Software Foundation. It is open-source software that supports nearly all operating systems, including Linux, Windows, Unix FreeBSD and Mac OS X. Apache Web Server is used by approximately 60% of all machines.

Modular architecture makes it easy to customize apache web servers. Open-source means that you can add your own modules to the server to meet your needs.

It is extremely stable compared to other web server and administrative issues can be easily resolved. You can install Apache on multiple platforms.

Apache’s most recent versions allow you to manage more requests than its older versions.

IIS Web Server


IIS, a Microsoft product, is a server that provides all of the features like Apache but mainly designed Windows servers. It is not open-source, so it can be difficult to add modules and modify.

It supports all platforms that run the Windows operating system. You also have access to excellent customer support in case of any issues.

Nginx Web Server


Nginx, the next open-source web server, is after Apache. It includes an IMAP/POP3 proxy. Nginx offers many important features, including stability, high performance, and simple configuration.

Nginx does not use threads to process requests. Instead, it uses a highly scalable and predictable event-driven architecture which consumes a small amount of memory under load. It hosts approximately 7.5% of all domains worldwide and has recently become very popular. This is the type of server many web hosting companies use nowdays.

LiteSpeed Web Server


LiteSpeed (LSWS), a high-performance Apache drop in replacement, is the fourth most popular web server on internet. It is a commercial webserver.

You will enjoy improved performance and lower operating costs when you upgrade to LiteSpeed for your web server.

This server works with most Apache features, including mod_rewrite, mod_security and .htaccess.

It can load Apache configuration files directly, and it works as a drop-in replacement Apache with most hosting control panels. It can replace Apache in 15 minutes with no downtime.

LSWS replaces Apache functions that other front-end proxy systems can’t do. This simplifies the use of Apache and makes the transition to LSWS smooth.

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Apache Tomcat


Apache Tomcat is an open-source Java servlet container. It functions as a webserver. Java Servlets are Java programs that extend the capabilities of a server. Although Servlets can handle all types of requests, they are most often used to implement web-based applications. These web servlets can be used to replace dynamic web content technologies like PHP or ASP.NET. Sun Microsystems donated Tomcats code to the Apache Software Foundation, 1999. This project became a top-level Apache project by 2005. It powers less than 1% of all websites.

Apache Tomcat was released under the Apache License version 2. It is used for Java applications. It can be extended using Coyote so it can also serve as a regular web server, serving local files as HTTP documents.

Apache Tomcat is often listed with other open-source Java application servers. Glassfish, Wildfly JBoss and Wildfly JBoss are two examples.



Node.js can be described as a server-side JavaScript environment used for network applications like web servers. Ryan Dahl originally wrote it in 2009. Node.js has 0.2% of all websites, despite having a lower market share. The Linux Foundations Collaborative Programs program supports the Node.js Foundation’s management of the Node.js Project.

Node.js is different from other web servers in that it provides a cross-platform environment for building network applications. Node.js uses an event-driven architecture that allows for asynchronous I/O. These design choices optimize throughput and scalability in web applications, which allows for real-time communication as well as browser games. Node.js helps to understand the differences in web development stacks. It is clearly a part the HTML, CSS and JavaScript stacks as opposed Apache or NGINX, which are part of many different software stacks.

Node.js can be released under several licenses



Lighttpd, aka “lighty”, was first released in March 2003. It is currently running on 0.1% of all websites.

The Lighttpd is unique because of its low CPU load, small memory footprint, speed optimizations, and high performance. It uses an event-driven architecture and is optimized to support a large number parallel connections. It is used for web frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Catalyst.

You can also choose from other types of servers, such as the ones listed below.

Mail Server

A mail server is a centrally located pool of disk space that can be used to store and distribute different documents, such as emails, for network users. Administrators always backup only one computer because all data is stored in one location.

Application Server is a collection of components and can be accessed via an API provided by the platform. These components are typically used in an environment similar to the one that hosts the web application(s). They are responsible for supporting the creation of dynamic pages.

FTP Server

This is a separate control and data connection that the FTP server uses between the client’s computer and the server. FTP users can authorize themselves using a username or password.

They can however connect with anonymous names if the server doesn’t allow it. To ensure transmission security, username and password must be encrypted with SSL and FTP.

Database Server

A program that provides database services to other programs or computers using client-server functionality is known as a database server. Some DBMSs, such as MySQL, depend on the client/server model to allow database access. This server can be accessed via either a “frontend” that runs on the user’s machine, where the request is made, or via the “backend” where data analysis and storage are performed.

Domain Name System Server (DNS Server): A server that hosts a network service to respond to queries is known as a name server. It can map either an addressing element or numeric identification. This is done by the server in response to network service protocol requests.

These DNS servers translate human-rememberable domain names and hostnames into their corresponding numeric Internet protocol addresses (IP). DNS is also used to identify and locate Internet resources and systems.


The web hosting companies mainly select the web servers based on the requirement of clients, the number of clients on a single server, the applications/software clients use and the amount of traffic a web server can handle generated by the clients. When choosing a web server, consider all of these factors and then choose one.

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