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Nginx vs. Apache: Which Server Suits Your Needs Best?


With Nginx and Apache being the two most commonly used web servers out there; having a better understanding of how they work and their differences will help make the right choice to suit your business needs. The fact that both Nginx and Apache are used for serving above 50% of the world’s internet traffic, tells you enough about their capability to handle a variety of workloads. To add more, their compatibility with other software allows you to have a full web stack.

Standard Characteristics of Nginx and Apache

What you can expect from Nginx is easy utilisation of its resources, as well as scalability with minimal hardware needed.  Where Nginx really delivers is with static content, which is being served with great speed.  Also due to its design, dynamic requests will be passed off to software that can handle those same requests better. Nginx is made with focus pointed at web server core and proxy features. It has great resource capability and being highly responsive while handling big loads.

Apache and its 20 year-long presence and popularity bring a substantial amount of documentation on it and support that is integrated from other software projects. Apache can offer you great server power, flexibility and extensive support. A dynamically loadable module system allows processing a great amount of interpreted languages. It also eliminates the need for connecting to different software.

Ability to Handle Connections and Traffic with Nginx

This is where the biggest difference comes between Nginx and Apache. Their ability and the way each of them handle traffic and connections, is where they differ the most. Here is how they react when faced with different traffic circumstances. With Nginx worker processes are spawned, while each one has the ability to handle huge numbers of connections. Nginx is able to achieve this with the implementation of fast looping mechanism, which constantly searches for events and processes them. This form of handling connections is what makes Nginx far more scalable even when using limited resources.  Under heavy loads of CPU power and memory usage usually remain stable. This is due to single-threaded nature of the server and processes not being spawned for handling new connections.

Ability to Handle Connections and Traffic with Apache

Apache on the other hand handles traffic differently from Nginx. It does it by using multi-processing modules also referred to as MPMs. Handling connections by administrators is made easier as they can swap out those connections, using these MPMs.

Mpm_prefork: This processing module provides great speed, but only as long as the number of requests does not surpass the number of processes. Processes are spawned with each being given a single thread for handling requests.

Mpm_worker: spawns processes where each is able to handle multiple threads, and each of the threads can handle a single connection. As a result it makes this module more scalable than the prefork module. New connections can instantly take up on a free thread, not waiting for a free process.

Mpm_event: is similar to the worker module, for the most part. Its primary focus however is to handle keep-alive connections. It works by taking dedicated threads, setting them aside to be used for keep-alive connections while passing off active requests to other threads.

From what you can see both Nginx and Apache are very capable, flexible and come with a lot of power. There are other performance abilities you should consider when choosing the best server that will suit your needs. For any additional information and questions you might have or need, feel free to contact our team at


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