At the heart of the internet, there are web servers. A web server is called an internet-serving superhero because it is always ready to serve and make your online experience possible.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about web servers and how they work.
Let’s dive in!
What is a web server, and how does it work?
A web server is a specialized software or hardware system that stores, processes and serves web pages and other web-related content to users over the internet. It acts as an intermediary between a user’s web browser and the web applications or websites they want to access.
How they work:
When you type a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) into your web browser and hit Enter, the browser sends a request to the appropriate web server hosting the requested website. It processes this request and sends back the requested web page or content, which is then displayed in your browser.
Components of the web server
They consist of the following key components:
- HTTP Server: This is the core component responsible for processing HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests from clients (browsers) and sending HTTP responses with the requested content.
- Request Handler: It processes incoming requests, determines which file or resource to send in response, and may execute server-side scripts or applications.
- Logs: Web servers often generate log files that record information about incoming requests, errors, and server activity.
Types of web servers
- Apache HTTP Server: Apache is the most widely known web server in the world, and many large websites and organizations use it. It is known for its reliability, scalability, and flexibility.
- Nginx: It is a lightweight and high-performance web server that is often used for static content delivery and reverse proxying. It is also becoming increasingly popular for hosting dynamic websites.
- Microsoft IIS: IIS was developed by Microsoft for the Windows operating system. It is a good choice for businesses that are already using other Microsoft products and services.
- Lighttpd: It is a lightweight and fast web server that is often used for serving high-traffic websites. It is also a good choice for resource-constrained systems.
- Sun Java System: This is a web server developed by Oracle that is designed for hosting Java applications. It is a good choice for businesses that are developing and deploying Java-based web applications.
Functions of web servers
- Serving static content like HTML files, images, and stylesheets directly to users.
- Executing server-side scripts and applications, such as PHP, Python, or Ruby, to generate dynamic web pages.
- Managing user sessions and handling authentication and authorization.
- Load balancing to distribute incoming traffic across multiple servers for scalability and redundancy.
- SSL/TLS encryption to secure data transmission between the server and the user’s browser.
In summary, web servers are the backbone of the internet, responsible for delivering web content to users’ browsers. They process incoming requests, serve static and dynamic content, and play a crucial role in ensuring the functionality and security of websites and web applications. Different web server software options are available, each with its strengths and use cases.
Web servers need to be configured securely to protect against various threats, including DDoS attacks, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. Regular updates and patches are essential to maintaining security.
Finally, it’s possible to set up your server; purchasing it from a web hosting provider will save time, effort, and money.
Article Source: Sanjana Sanghi