What’s a web server? 

Web server is the computer system that deploys HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) along with other protocols to respond to client requests and convey the web pages or files. 

It displays website content through saving, processing and conveying web pages to users. 

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and SMTP are other protocols deployed over web servers for email, file exchange and storage. 

Web server is both hardware and software. SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and Web server hardware are connected to the internet, and it facilitates data exchange with other connected devices, while web server software control how a user accesses hosted files. 

If you are looking forward to hosting websites in your computer system, you must have web server software. Web servers are used for various web-based applications. 

Working of the web server

The web server responds to the requests made by the user in the following two ways:

  • Delivering the file to the user related to the requested URL
  • Developing response citing a script and communicating with the database

When a user sends a request for any web page, the web server searches the requested page. If the requested page is found, the web server will generate an HTTP response and send it to the user. 

The web server will generate an HTTP response that reads- ‘Error 404 Not found’ when the requested web page is not found. 

If a user has requested some other resources, the web server will connect to the application server and data store to create the HTTP response. 

Types of various servers

  • Application servers

They are designed to run applications. It comprises both the software and hardware, which offer an environment for running programmes. 

They are used to run various web applications, host a hypervisor and manage virtual machines, track software updates, and process data. It also offers the processing power and memory to run these applications in real-time. It processes the data and returns the result to the web server. 

While the web server delivers static data, an application server delivers dynamic data. Moreover, the application server can serve both web-based and enterprise-based applications. 

Open-source application servers, mobile application servers, .Net framework, java application servers are some of the types of application servers. 

  • File servers

File servers provide the management and security of stored files. It facilitates the connection between file systems and clients. Moreover, it offers a key storage place for internal media files, which is accessible to all authorized clients. 

Based on how files are accessed on the server, file servers are categorized into the following two types: 

1. Internet file servers:  HTPP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

2. LAN file servers: NFS protocol, SMB/CIFS protocol

  • Message servers

It offers real-time communication between users. It includes chat servers, IRC servers and groupware. 

  • Proxy servers

They act as a mediator between users and the internet and facilitates the management of shared connections. It offers security to your systems by protecting them against internet threats like malware. 

  • Database servers 

These servers can manage a database saved in the server. They use an SQL database management system to provide requested information back to the user. 

  • Mail servers 

These servers are used to manage and control email. It sends, receives and saves your email. IMAP and POB3 are two types of mail servers in which IMAP enables you to read mail on multiple devices. 

Types of web servers

There are four types of primary web servers. They are: 

  • Apache (by Apache) 

It is an open-source web server. It is one of the oldest and most popular web server used by IBM, Adobe, Facebook, VMware and LinkedIn. It operates for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Unix and other operating systems.  

  • IIS (by Microsoft) 

It is a general-purpose server that offers website content to an end-user. It is not open-sourced like Apache. 

  • Nginx (by NGINX)

This open-source web server is also used as a proxy server and load balancer. It’s famous for its light resource utilization and scalability. Its mechanism allows it to handle multiple concurrent sessions. 

  • GWS (by Google) 

Google web server is used exclusively inside Google’s domain for website hosting. 

Now you have a brief idea on the various web servers that are existent and which will serve your purpose the best. You always need to ensure that you do your research before zeroing in on the right server for you your business based on the functionality you wish to offer.