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What is Apache & How It Actually Works            

Apache is a popular choice for website developers, website owners, and hosting providers. Its market share is estimated at around a third, meaning a third of all websites in the world use it. This free and open-source software, maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, lets people deploy websites with ease. Apache is also among the most reliable and oldest pieces of web server software, with the first version launched back in 1995.

What is Apache?

We might refer to Apache as a web server, but it is not a physical server. As mentioned, it is a piece of software operating on top of a server. It connects a server and the respective browser – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. – whatever the visitor is using.

Apache moves files back and forth between the server and the browser. It is compatible with Windows, Unix, and most other operating systems.

When someone wants to view a webpage, their browser sends the server a request, to which Apache responds with the file requested, be it an image or a text. The user and the server use the HTTP protocol to communicate, and the Apache web server is responsible for the secure and smooth interaction between the two.

Apache has high customization capabilities thanks to its open-source nature. Users of all technical backgrounds can adapt its source code depending on what type of website they need. Moreover, Apache provides all kinds of modules that let admins use additional features and functions.

Are You Using Apache?

You can use Chrome to check which server a site is using. Use Chrome to load the site, right-click on the page, and choose “Inspect Elements.” Go to the Network tab and reload the site. Click on the URL and check the header tag.

Pluses and Minuses of Apache

Apache can be a great choice to run a website on a flexible and stable platform. However, it has some minuses too. Below is a list of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Reliable, stable software.
  • Open-source and free, even for commercial use
  • Frequently updated security patches
  • Easy to configure, beginner-friendly
  • Flexible due to its module-based structure
  • Cross-platform (works on both Unix and Windows)
  • Optimal deliverability for static files
  • Works out of the box with WordPress
  • Compatible with all programming languages
  • Huge community
  • Support is easy to access

Cons

  • High customizability opens doors to threats
  • Customization means new bugs and errors
  • Debugging takes up time and other resources
  • You must recognize and disable unwanted modules and services manually
  • You need to update it regularly
  • It is not optimal for very traffic-heavy websites.

Alternatives to Apache

Nginx is the most common alternative to Apache. The difference is that Nginx can only work as a reverse proxy. Some users claim Nginx is better at handling multiple requests at the same time. 

Other alternatives to Apache include Tomcat, Node.js, Cherokee, Lighttpd, Microsoft IIS, Hiawatha, and Appweb.

Final Thoughts

Apache makes running a website securely easy. Small businesses tend to opt for this free and open-source software to build a web presence without breaking the bank. Its operation is quite simple: it accepts requests from Chrome or another browser and converts programming scripts to webpages that visitors can view.

You don’t need to customize anything to set up a WordPress website on Apache. The software also supports Drupal, Joomla, and multiple other content management systems. It works with web frameworks like Laravel and Django and is compatible with every programming language. This makes it a great choice for all types of hosting, including VPS, shared, cloud, and dedicated hosting.