Nginx, often pronounced as “engine-ex”, stands as an open-source web server that has evolved beyond its initial web server role. Today, it serves as a reverse proxy, HTTP cache, and load balancer, offering a wide range of functionalities.
Prominent organizations, including Autodesk, Atlassian, Intuit, T-Mobile, GitLab, DuckDuckGo, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Adobe, Salesforce, VMWare, Xerox, LinkedIn, Cisco, Facebook, Target, Citrix Systems, Twitter, Apple, Intel, and many others (source), rely on Nginx for their web server needs.
The brainchild of Igor Sysoev, Nginx made its debut in October 2004. Igor’s primary goal was to tackle the C10k problem, focusing on handling 10,000 concurrent connections efficiently.
Due to its roots in performance optimization at scale, Nginx frequently outperforms other popular web servers in benchmark tests, especially when dealing with static content and high concurrent requests. This is why Ucartz harnesses the power of Nginx for its hosting solutions.
How Nginx Operates?
Nginx is engineered for low memory usage and high concurrency. Instead of creating new processes for each web request, Nginx employs an asynchronous, event-driven approach, where requests are handled within a single thread.
In the world of Nginx, one master process manages multiple worker processes. The master oversees the workers, while the workers execute the actual processing. The asynchronous nature of Nginx enables each request to be executed by workers concurrently without impeding others.
Here’s an overview of how Nginx operates:
- Reverse Proxy: Nginx, acts as a reverse proxy server. It means forwarding client requests to backend servers or application servers. When a request comes in, Nginx can determine which backend server should handle it based on various rules and load-balancing algorithms. Thereby, helping Nginx to distribute incoming traffic across multiple servers to improve application performance and availability.
- Load Balancer: Nginx can distribute incoming network traffic evenly among multiple backend servers to ensure that no single server is overwhelmed with requests. This is particularly useful for high-traffic websites or applications where scalability and fault tolerance are critical.
- SSL/TLS Termination: Nginx can terminate SSL/TLS encryption for incoming requests and then forward unencrypted traffic to backend servers. This offloads the encryption/decryption work from the backend servers, which can be resource-intensive, and allows Nginx to efficiently handle secure connections.
- Caching: Nginx includes a caching mechanism that can store static content or even dynamic content for a specific period. This reduces the load on backend servers and accelerates content delivery to clients, improving website performance.
- URL Rewriting: Nginx can manipulate URLs by performing various types of URL rewriting and redirection. This is useful for creating user-friendly URLs, handling URL changes, or implementing SEO-friendly practices.
- Security Features: Nginx provides various security features, such as access control, rate limiting, and the ability to block malicious traffic or requests. It can also be configured to hide sensitive information about the backend server and software versions.
- High Performance: Nginx is known for its efficiency and low resource utilization. It is designed to handle a large number of concurrent connections and requests efficiently, making it suitable for high-traffic websites and applications.
- Configuration: Nginx is highly configurable through its configuration files. Administrators can fine-tune its behaviour to meet specific requirements and use cases.
Overall, Nginx is a versatile and powerful software that plays a crucial role in the modern web infrastructure, serving as a key component for web servers, load balancing, reverse proxying, and enhancing web application performance and security.
At Ucartz, you can explore Nginx along with our Premium Web Hosting solution which offers you add-ons tailored to enhance your web experience.
Nginx vs. Apache: Usage Statistics
While Apache remains the most widely used open-source web server, with 43.6% of known websites employing it (down from 47% in 2018, according to W3Techs), Nginx closely follows with a 41.8% share.
A survey conducted by Netcraft across 233 million domains revealed Apache’s usage at 31.54% and Nginx’s usage at 26.20%.
Notably, Nginx takes the lead as the preferred web server among high-traffic websites. When we dissect usage rates based on traffic, Nginx dominates:
- Powering 60.9% of the top 100,000 sites (up from 56.1% in 2018)
- Serving 67.1% of the top 10,000 sites (up from 63.2% in 2018)
- Commanding 62.1% of the top 1,000 sites (up from 57% in 2018)
Remarkably, Nginx is the go-to choice for resource-intensive websites like Netflix, NASA, and even WordPress.com.
On the contrary, Apache’s usage declines as a site’s traffic grows:
- Supporting 24.0% of the top 100,000 sites (down from 27.1% in 2018)
- Backing 18.8% of the top 10,000 sites (down from 21.5% in 2018)
- Fueling 16.6% of the top 1,000 sites (up from 16.2% in 2018)
A closer look at Google Search trends since 2004 reveals Apache’s steady decline, while Nginx experiences modest growth.
Considering Nginx’s superior scalability under high loads, its preference among high-traffic websites comes as no surprise. Explore our detailed Nginx vs. Apache comparison to learn more.
Which is better: Nginx or Apache?
- Nginx has gained significant popularity, particularly for instances like serving static content, acting as a reverse proxy, and handling high-concurrency scenarios.
- It is known for its efficient event-driven architecture, which makes it perform well under heavy loads.
- Nginx is known for being lightweight and using fewer system resources than Apache.
- It is commonly used for websites, web applications, and microservices architecture due to its performance and scalability.
Apache HTTP Server (Apache):
- Apache is one of the oldest and most well-established web servers, known for its robustness and flexibility.
- Historically, Apache has been the dominant web server, especially in the early days of the internet.
- Apache is highly configurable and supports various modules and extensions, making it suitable for various use cases.
- Apache is often preferred for hosting PHP-based applications and traditional server-side scripting.
Usage statistics can vary depending on factors such as region, type of website/application, and specific use cases. However, during my last update, the trend indicated that Nginx was gaining popularity and was frequently chosen for high-performance and scalability requirements, while Apache continued to be used for its versatility and familiarity.
It’s essential to note that many web servers use both Nginx and Apache together in a setup known as “Nginx as a reverse proxy for Apache.” This configuration allows Nginx to handle incoming requests, perform load balancing, and serve static content efficiently, while Apache processes dynamic content and runs server-side scripts when needed.
Determining whether your website runs Nginx or Apache is straightforward. In most cases, you can check the server’s HTTP header. By inspecting HTTP headers through tools like Pingdom, GTmetrix, or Chrome Devtools’ network tab, you can easily spot whether your server uses Nginx or Apache.
However, bear in mind that the HTTP header may not always reveal the underlying web server. For example, if your WordPress site operates behind a proxy service like Cloudflare, the server HTTP header may display “Cloudflare.”
Ucartz offers an integrated platform to host your applications, databases, and WordPress sites. Our feature-rich, high-performance Hosting platform includes:
- NVMe-SSD storage
- High speed and performance of NGINX
- Round-the-clock expert support
- Enterprise-grade Cloudflare integration for enhanced speed and security
Begin your journey with our Application Hosting or Database Hosting. Explore our plans or engage with our sales team to find the ideal fit for your needs.