Apache and Nginx: The secret weapons of open-source web hosting providers

It’s official! Pingdom Blog reports that 75% of the top 10,000 websites on the planet Earth are powered by Open Source software, with Apache web server the clear leader followed by Nginx.

Together these two web server titans account for 61% of the top 10,000 websites on hosting platforms in the UK.  Proprietary web server, Microsoft IIS, has fallen to third place behind Nginx, with just 14% of the tally.

Linux and Apache are two of the main ingredients that power hosting packages on shared platforms, dedicated servers and reseller bundles available from Midphase in the United States.

Linux and Apache form a key partnership in helping hosting companies drive down website hosting costs and introduce powerful new features through industry-leading control dashboards such as cPanel.

According to Pingdom, the three web servers mentioned further above are far from alone with Lighttpd, Apache’s Tomcat, LiteSpeed, Resin, Zeus, Jetty, Tengine and many others making an appearance in the top 10 server products.

It’s clear from the Pingdom report that Apache dominates the field, although Nginx is starting to make its presence felt.

Here are some other facts that surfaced during their survey:

  • Out of the top 10k, 79 sites responded with server “cloudflare-nginx”. This is often referred to as a web accelerator.
  • “Amusingly, a few sites felt the need to point out that the server was confidential, instead of just leaving that header out,” said Pingdom.
  • Google’s web server (GWS) made a strong appearance with 128 sites thanks to large number of localized Google search sites.
  • “If we ignore the sites that didn’t respond or identify themselves with a server header, Apache’s share goes up from 39.8% to 44.4%, nginx goes from 21.6% to 24.2%, and IIS goes from 13.6% to 15.2%,” said Pingdom.

According to the HTTP Server Project, Apache httpd has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April 1996, and celebrated its 17th birthday as a project this February.

“The Apache HTTP Server Project is an effort to develop and maintain an open-source HTTP server for modern operating systems including UNIX and Windows NT. The goal of this project is to provide a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services in sync with the current HTTP standards,” said the makers.

When choosing a hosting provider one of the first decisions you make will be whether to choose a Windows-based hosting platform or one powered by Linux.  Generally, open source hosting providers display more IT agility along with cheaper packages that are the hallmark of non-proprietary software.

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