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What is Apache? – IONOS

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Its modular approach makes the Apache server a particularly flexible server solution. This is why, among other things, almost half of the world’s websites are based on Apache. However, performance issues can sometimes be observed, especially when traffic is high, which can cause busy online sites to turn to other alternatives.

What exactly is Apache?

The Apache server is one of the oldest and most widely used web servers in the world. Apache was first developed in 1995 as an extension of server software from the National Center for Supercomputing (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. That year, in April, the developer team launched the Apache server, introducing it as the first project of the Apache Software Foundation, which continues to manage and update the server software today. In addition to being open source, the Apache HTTP server (this is the official name of this server program) is free.

Some studies suggest that almost half of the world’s websites use Apache. This server is named after an indigenous tribe in North America, which has earned it a lot of criticism for several years.

How to combine Apache server?

The Apache server is written in C language. Initially, it was rather optimized for UNIX systems. Today, however, Apache is compatible with all common platforms. It is often combined with Linux or Windows.

Since version 2.0, the Apache server has offered different libraries which adapt optimally to the requirements and specificities of the different operating systems and therefore make it possible to obtain the best possible results.

What can Apache be used for?

The Apache server performs many functions. As a web server, it receives requests from clients and responds to them using the contents of the corresponding websites. It therefore converts data written in different Web languages ​​into static HTML files. These can then, for example, be sent to the browser of visitors to an online site.

However, since Apache is not a physical server, it simply acts as a bridge between physical server and client. Thanks to its numerous modules, which you can discover below, Apache however offers a wide range of other functionalities.

How does Apache work?

If it bears the name “Apache server”, this system is in reality composed ofsoftware that works with a physical HTTP server. As a fundamental component of the client-server structure, Apache exercises control over actual data traffic. For example, if a user clicks on a certain website, their browser sends a request to the server through the HTTP protocol.

Apache then returns a response gathering all the data (it can be text, image, video, etc.) of the requested page. At the same time, the Apache server ensures complete and fast delivery, as well as secure transfer. Apache is configured via .htaccess.

What modules are available for the Apache server?

The modular structure of the Apache server is among its most important features. Since the software is based on an open source approach, users are completely free to develop Apache and adapt it according to their own needs. You can therefore choose to lighten the server or improve its performance, but also add numerous features, each more useful than the other, to optimize communication between the client and the server. These modules always start with the characters “mod_”. Below are some of the most popular modules:

  • mod_deflate: This module allows websites to be compressed before delivering them to the client, for much faster loading times.
  • mod_headers: this module allows you to personalize the header data of a website, to easily make additional options available to browsers.
  • mod_php and mod_python: these modules allow the integration and use of dynamic scripting languages, such as PHP and Python in these two cases.
  • mod_proxy: this module ensures transfer to other servers.
  • mod_rewrite: this particularly popular module allows you to focus on optimization for search engines. It offers the ability to transform dynamic URLs into static URLs, so as to redirect requests wisely.
  • mod_ssl: this module allows communication between the server and the browser to be encrypted using an SSL certificate.

You will find an overview of the Apache modules available for the Linux Hosting and Turnkey Server plans in our support center.

Want to set up your own web server? Flexibility, powerful security features and convincing performance: With the Linux hosting offer from IONOS, you benefit from numerous advantages. Find the best price for your needs!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this web server?

What is Apache? We have just answered this question. Now it remains to be seen whether this web server is efficient. To answer this question, it is first necessary to take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Apache server. The fact that it is very widespread shows that it has a lot to offer and that it has already convinced many users. However, this solution can also have its flaws.

Benefits

  • Flexibility: its modular approach makes the Apache server one of the most flexible solutions on the market. Regardless of the needs of your website and the features it must offer, it is very likely that Apache has a suitable module to offer you unrivaled customization solutions.
  • Open source: the second major advantage of Apache lies in the fact that it is a personalized solution whose cost is not excessive. On the contrary, the Apache server is both free and open source, providing additional customization possibilities.
  • Versatility: For a long time now, Apache has no longer focused solely on UNIX platforms, as was the case at the beginning. Today it is compatible with many different operating systems. Whether Linux, Mac, or Windows, Apache is a great option optimized for every system. This advantage also applies to connecting to databases and integrating many scripting languages.
  • Documentation and support: the fact that the Apache server is very widespread is also useful on a daily basis for users. The origin of problems can quickly be identified, making them easy to resolve. The software comes with very good documentation and many users continue to develop it. If you have any questions, the enthusiastic community created around Apache will be happy to answer them.
  • Reliability: While enthusiastic users can indeed help you, other solutions exist to ensure use with a minimum of problems. Apache is generally considered to be very secure and reliable software. However, we will tell you about a significant restriction in the section on the disadvantages.
  • SEO: For the majority of websites, search engine optimization is an essential element. The Apache server offers many opportunities for improvement in this regard and guarantees much better SEO for the relevant online sites.

Disadvantages

  • Performance: Overall, the performance of Apache servers cannot be called bad. However, they are not exceptional either, and this can also pose a problem, especially for busy websites. If multiple browsers access the same online site simultaneously, this can quickly create problems with Apache. However, there are solutions to improve the performance of an Apache web server.
  • Security: if the theme of security has its place with the advantages as well as the disadvantages, it is because there is a small restriction. In fact, the Apache server is considered a very secure solution. In certain cases, however, its numerous customization and configuration possibilities can play tricks on it. If all of these options do not match well with each other, then security issues may arise.

What are the alternatives to Apache?

Is Apache the right server to meet your needs? The answer to this question depends somewhat on the competition. If Apache servers are still among the most used, this data is decreasing when it comes to high traffic websites. NGINX has proven to be a popular alternative.

Not only is this option also open source and free, but it is also significantly more recent (its first version dating from 2014) and perfectly capable of handling a large number of clicks. For more information on what brings these two web servers together and divides them, check out our full comparison of NGINX and Apache in the Digital Guide.

Another alternative comes directly from the Apache parent company. Apache Software Foundation has released a new Web server, Tomcat, specifically designed to the use of dynamic web content. Apache’s “little brother” is therefore also one of its most serious competitors, particularly when it comes to interaction with different Java applications.

Apache server: installation and configuration

If you decide to go with Apache server, you just need to follow the steps below. Access the official page of Apache HTTP server project and download the installation files that match your operating system. Once these files are installed, you can start using the Apache server, at least in its basic version. If you are a Linux user, it is generally recommended to set up a LAMP server, i.e. Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. Want to customize Windows software to meet your needs? Check out our guide titled “Install and Configure an Apache Web Server.”

Optimal support for your server: In addition to high-performance hardware, the Managed service offers you professional assistance for the administration and maintenance of your server, so that you can concentrate on your business with complete peace of mind.

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