What is web server: Types of Web Servers, Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

Web Servers

A web server is a computer that stores and delivers website files when they are requested by users. It’s like a waiter serving food – it brings the website to the user’s device. There are different types of web servers, but the most commonly used one is called Apache. Servers, in general, are computers or software that provide services or resources to other computers.

They can store files, run software, or manage network traffic. The main difference between web servers and servers is that web servers specifically handle website-related tasks. They work by receiving requests from users’ web browsers and delivering the requested files, like HTML pages and images.

The computer that shows web pages is called a web server. Every web server has an IP address and a domain name. Any computer can become a web server when it has server software installed and is connected to the Internet. Let’s now dive into what a web server is in more detail.

What is Server?

A server is a computer program or device that shares data with other computers. It operates as a part of a network and sends data to other computer systems on a local or wide area network. In essence, a server is a support system for client computers, delivering services such as storing files, running software, managing network traffic, and handling requests from other computers on the network.

The web page is served to the user based on server instructions, and all websites use some kind of server.

Server Type

Read the article about Web Server, Application Server, Proxy Server, File Server, Database Server, Mail Server, and FTP Server for detailed information. If there are any shortcomings, please let us know in the comments.

Application Server – An application server helps create and run all applications. It’s a program that handles and oversees applications for users, organization databases, and backend business applications.

Proxy server – A proxy server works as a middleman between the user and the Internet. It helps manage requests from users to external servers, controlling complexity.

File server – A file server stores different types of files like text documents, multimedia, and photos within a network, similar to Google Drive.

Database server – A mail server is like a database system for accessing data from the computer. It helps with recovering services when accessing data.

Mail server – A mail server, also known as a mail transfer agent (MTA) or Internet mailer, handles emails on the Internet. It sends emails to the recipient. When we receive or send mail, it goes through a complex process involving the mail server, which is how we receive mail.

FTP Server – The FTP server, or File Transfer Protocol server, helps transfer files to any computer globally. When a web browser requests a web page, it uses the FTP protocol to transmit the file to the user.

What is web server

A web server is a type of software or hardware that runs websites. It stores, processes, and delivers web pages using HTTP for internal communication.

It can be divided into two parts, the machine on which the web server is installed and the software that acts as the web server. Web pages are usually delivered to the user by the HTTP protocol. A user can convert any computer into a web server that serves web pages to the Internet by installing web server software and connecting it to the Internet.

Any time you look at a web page on the Internet, it’s because your computer is using a web server. Even if the server isn’t connected to the Internet, it’s still called a web server and it can do tasks just for you.

How does web server work?

HTTP is a way to send information over the Internet. It helps your web browser get data from servers like the ones Google Chrome connects to.

All the websites and data we access or download on the Internet are possible because of HTTP. HTTP is the foundation of the World Wide Web and uses port 80 to transfer data. It is one of the most widely used protocols for accessing the internet.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS protocols?

Each web server receives requests from clients and sends back responses. If the client’s request has an error, the server sends an error response with a custom HTML or text message.

503 Service Unavailable: When there is an issue with the internet connection, the server is busy, or the site is taken to a different address, this error may occur.

500 Internal Server Error: When there is a problem with the server settings, there is a problem reaching the file, and an internal error status code is displayed.

408 Request Timeout: This error mostly occurs when the server is slow or the requested file is too large.

404 File Not Found: This is the most common error. When you request a file or document that is not available on the server, either it has been deleted or taken to another location, in such a situation, a 404 error occurs.

403 Forbidden/Access Denied: This response code can occur when you are trying to open a page for which you do not have permission.

401 Unauthorized: This error may occur due to entering the wrong password.

400 Bad File Request: This error code is displayed when our URL is incorrect, such as a typo in typing the characters, and so on.

Types of Web Server Software

  • Apache web server
  • Internet information server
  • Nginx service server
  • light speed web service

Apache Web Server

The first version of the Apache web server was released in 1995. In 1999, the Apache group became the Apache Software Foundation. It is the most popular server for hosting websites, controlling around 46% of websites worldwide.

Due to being a free and widely used web server, Apache is very popular right now. It works on different operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and Macintosh. Apache is also known as Apache ‘HTTP Server’ technically.

Internet Information Server

Internet Information Server, also called IIS, is a Microsoft product with similar features to Apache. IIS is compatible with all Windows operating systems. It’s not simple to add various models to this server because it’s not open source.

Nginx Web Server

This server is well-known for being fast, stable, easy to set up, and using very few resources. Nginx web server is a free, open source server that also works as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. Unlike some other servers, Nginx doesn’t use threads to process requests.

It’s a flexible architecture for events that uses a small and consistent amount of memory when busy. This server is getting popular, and more web hosting companies are using it.

Light Speed Web Server

It is the fourth most popular web server on the Internet and it is a commercial one. Lite Speed is a high performance server used as a replacement for other web servers.

I have used Nginx, Light Speed, and Apache in the same setup. Light Speed server is the best in terms of performance based on my personal experience.

Web Server Features

HTTP Protocol – The full name of HTTP is ‘Hyper Text Transfer Protocol’. We use it to transfer data from server to server via the Internet, such as hypermedia or hypertext files through a client’s web browser. HTTP is the most popular protocol used worldwide for using technology like the internet.

Logging – A web server can save detailed information about client requests and server responses to files. The web server also enables the webmaster to gather data by using log analyzers on the files.

Authentication – Before accessing all resources, the web server asks for a username and password for extra security.

Handling – The web server manages different types of content, such as static and dynamic, by using various interfaces like SSI, CGI, SCGI, FastCGL, JSP, ColdFusion, PHP, etc.

Security – The website uses HTTPS to make secure connections on the standard port 443 instead of the usual port 80.

Virtual Hosting – Virtual hosting allows hosting multiple websites using a single IP address on a web server.

Bandwidth Throttling – I will explain this in a future article. For now, just think of bandwidth like a computer’s RAM. More RAM allows more applications to multitask, while higher bandwidth means handling larger traffic.

Following are the utilities of web server

  • The main function of web server is to control and manage website hosting.
  • Web server creates FTP that can upload or download website files.
  • The web server also serves to determine the default document or defaults.
  • Web server is helpful to solve the problems faced by the website like server not found and http error etc.

Conclusion: A web server is a software used by website admins to deliver web pages containing text, images, and videos to the visitors. It’s basically the software that provides web pages to the user.

Hope you liked this article on “What is a web server.” I always try to make sure you understand every detail. If I missed something, please let me know in the comments. Also, share it with your friends and suggest new topics. Thank you for reading till the end!

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