Nginx vs Apache: Which Is Better for Your WordPress Website
There are many different kinds of servers, but to be able to run, they all tend to have three types of software. They all need an operating system such as Linux or Windows, to be able to run at all. Having a control panel such as cPanel or its alternatives is a handy way to add an interface and management tool to the server. But it’s the server software that makes a computer a server, and in the world of server software, the Nginx vs Apache quandary comes up fairly often.
So if you just so happen to be looking for a quick and easy way to learn about Apache and read a thing or two about Nginx, and maybe decide which one would work better for your WordPress website, you’re in the right place. In this article, you’ll be able to read:
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Apache is the older of the two, having been around since the mid-90s. It quickly became a widely used web server, a position it kind of holds to this day. Apache works with a variety of operating systems, and it’s mostly used on Unix, Linux, and Windows platforms. One of the most commonly used bundles of software for web development, the LAMP stack, includes Apache along with Linux, MySQL, and PHP.
A couple of key things you should know about Apache include:
It uses a process-driven, multi-threaded approach, in which it creates a new thread to handle every connection request.
It benefits from a modular design which greatly extends its usability.
It uses the .htaccess file to configure the server and supports the creation of multiple .htaccess files.
It supports both static and dynamic content in the web server itself.
It comes pre-installed on many Linux servers, and it benefits from having a large community of users.
Overall, Apache is a popular and widely-used web server software that manages to be user-friendly and customizable at the same time. It has universal support.
Nginx – also spelled “nginx” and “NGINX” but always pronounced “engine x” – might be the younger of the two by eight or nine years, but it’s had a lot of time to grow and improve. It’s a lightweight web server that is very popular for its scalability and minimal use of hardware. Nginx is also widely used as a proxy server and load balancer.
Some of the key traits of Nginx include:
An event-driven approach that allows it to deal with multiple requests within one thread asynchronously.
It processes only static content within the server, and it relies on external processes to handle dynamic page content.
Dynamic module loading is still not supported by all modules.
Limited support for Windows, and support for most Unix-like systems.
It doesn’t allow directory configuration and doesn’t use .htaccess.
Overall, Nginx is a web server that’s popular for its ability to handle a lot of traffic using limited resources. It’s scalable and extendible using third-party core modules, even though it’s not the most flexible option.
Apache was created in a way that isn’t the most efficient of the two regarding resource consumption – its multithreaded approach means that as traffic grows, the increasing number of threads has to compete for finite resources. Nginx, on the other hand, was built to be able to handle many requests in a single processing thread. An Nginx server is capable of handling much more traffic than Apache, which makes it the more scalable choice of the two. It also uses fewer resources than Apache, too.
When it comes to serving content, Nginx might seem to be at a disadvantage because of its inability to process dynamic content within the server. However, the way it handles dynamic content by using external processes to deal with it doesn’t leave it at a disadvantage. On top of that Nginx is usually faster at processing static content than Apache. Again, it seems like Nginx is the better-performing one.
However, Apache is the one that’s supported by more systems. It also leads when it comes to configuring it – you can configure each directory via its .htaccess file, which tends to be important as it frees you from giving users too many permissions. Apache is better for access control. The dynamically loadable modules can work wonders if you want to add or remove functions on the fly – something you can’t do with most Nginx modules.
It’s hard to say if one of the two is better than the other. Perhaps the best way to illustrate their relationships is by looking at the usage statistics which imply that, overall, Apache might have a slightly bigger market share than Nginx. However, when you look at the most popular websites in the world, you’ll notice that Nginx is significantly more present among them.
So what about WordPress – which one of the two is better for your WordPress website? The good news is that you can use either with WordPress, as there’s no limit in terms of support between the two. Your website is likely to be fine whichever you choose.
Keep in mind, however, that Nginx is the better choice for high-traffic websites. If your website experiences heavy concurrent traffic numbers, an Nginx server will give you the edge you need. If you plan to host lots of static content, Nginx is again the better choice. On the other hand, if flexibility, configuration, and access control are what you need, then Apache is a better choice.
The third option, of course, is to use both. Nginx excels at the role of reverse proxy, handling client requests and static content processing. When it gets a request for something it cannot do, like process dynamic content, it can pass it on to Apache for processing, and serve the results to the client. Different hosting providers will throw in additional elements to the setup, all in the name of ensuring incredible speed and reliability. So remember – if you want speed, go for Nginx. If you want customization and control, go for Apache. And if you happen to get it wrong – don’t worry. You can always switch later.
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