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What Is Apache Server: The Basics That You Need to Know

Apache is one of the most popular web servers in the industry. Thanks to its easy deployment, 24/7 uptime, customizability, and high security, Apache is used by approximately 33% of all websites on the internet.

In fact, some of the biggest web applications use Apache servers for their web hosting needs: Facebook, Cisco, eBay, LinkedIn, Adobe, HP, you name it!

Keep reading to find out more about Apache, and discover why it’s the first choice for so many web hosting platforms.

What Is Apache?

The Apache Server is an open-source, cross-platform web server application. In its essence, it allows users to deploy their websites on the internet for others to be able to access them. Apache is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, and its first version was released back in 1995, making it one of the oldest web server software to exist.

Since its release, Apache has seen tremendous growth and all this has been possible because of its wonderful open source community.

Although it is called the Apache server, it’s important to know that it’s not exactly a server, but rather, a server application. Its job is to establish a connection between the server and the browsers of users visiting websites. In other words, the server is a hardware component wherein the Apache server application is installed to handle request routing.

Web servers such as Apache are also responsible for providing your website data to anyone who tries to access the internet, but at the same time securing your data and protecting it from unauthorized access. Let’s take a deep dive into how web servers such as Apache work, in the section below.

How Exactly Does The Apache Server Work?

Typically, there are hundreds of users who are connecting to the web server of a web application (take Facebook, for example). The thing is, a physical server alone is not capable of entertaining so many requests at the same time and would likely crash.

This is where Apache comes in. Its job is to understand user requests and respond with appropriate website data. Think of it as an operating system for servers – using a server application, you can configure your server however you want.

Let’s say you enter www.facebook.com in your browser and hit enter:

  • Your web browser will forward the request to the web server associated with the URL of the website, which is Apache in our case.
  • The server analyzes the request and establishes that the user wants to access the homepage of Facebook.
  • The server sends back the Facebook home page data back, and Facebook’s home page loads up on your browser.

All this communication and exchange of information between the server and the client takes place using the HTTP protocol. The Apache server makes sure that this transmission of information is secure and smooth using its routing protocols.

HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a protocol that defines certain criteria for the transmission of information over the internet between web servers and browsers.

There are several reasons why Apache is so popular in the web server industry. Here are some of the biggest ones:

  1. It is free and open source, meaning you can customize it according to your needs without any licensing.
  2. Thanks to community support, it is a reliable software that has been tested for stability by countless agents.
  3. Security is the top priority for web applications and because of this Apache regularly receives security update patches.
  4. The module-based structure allows you to remove modules that you don’t need, hence, making the software as lightweight as you want.
  5. It’s one of the easiest software to configure and has a big community that will have solutions for almost all the problems you might encounter.
  6. Apache is cross-platform which means it runs on both Unix and Windows servers.
  7. Most of the WordPress hosting providers use Apache software. Take a look at our WordPress hosting guide to find out which providers use Apache.

Now that we’ve covered the Apache server and all its advantages in detail, let’s take a look at some possible cons when choosing the Apache server.

Some Things To Know Before Choosing The Apache Server

As with everything, Apache has its own demerits. And to be able to make an educated decision about which server application to use, you will need to understand its pros as well as cons.

Here are some drawbacks of using the Apache server:

  1. As anyone can modify the software, inexperienced users may accidentally create security vulnerabilities (i.e. open gates) which can cause a lot of damage.
  2. Customizing could also mean facing new bugs and errors, and then spending a lot of time and resources on debugging these.
  3. You need to be very vigilant when it comes to updates, as an open source means that malicious actors are also on the lookout for vulnerabilities. So anytime a new security update is released, it has to be applied as soon as possible.
  4. Websites with extremely high traffic are prone to experience performance issues.
  5. Finding and removing useless or unwanted modules can be both time and resource-consuming.

How To Know If Apache Is The Right Fit For You

Whilst popular, Apache might not be for everyone.

If you are planning on setting up a dynamic content website like Wikipedia, then Apache should be a top choice because of its ability to serve dynamic content within the web server. Apache is also ideal for eCommerce, social media, or any other website that modifies itself according to the user’s interests, characteristics, and preferences.

On the other hand, if you are using Apache for a mostly static website, it may not be the most efficient. The reason for this is that in order to serve dynamic content, Apache needs extra modules, which can take a toll on the processing speed. But if you’d still like to use Apache, just make sure that you’re using the minimized version of the Apache server to prevent slowdowns.

Make Sure To Find A Suitable Web Host Too!

For a smooth and hassle-free experience, it pays to double-check if your hosting provider uses the Apache server, or that the hosting plan you are opting for allows the flexibility to use a server application of your choice.

Need some help looking for the right hosting provider? Browse Bitcatcha’s web hosting reviews to find the best service for your needs and preferences.

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