Which are the most used web servers?

Top web servers 2022

Nginx and Apache are undoubtedly the two most used web servers worldwide. Each of them holds about a third of the market. According to W3Techs’ data, Nginx holds about 33.5% of the market and Apache about 31.5% — 30.7% and 23% respectively according to Netcraft’s data. This list includes some of the most popular web servers according to W3Techs and Netcraft statistics regarding the usage of web servers.

What is a web server?

A web server is a software used for serving files to websites on the Internet. The web server software is responsible for ensuring the communication between the server and the client is secure and flawless. The software works as a link between two machines (a physical server and a user’s device). When a user makes a request, the web server grabs the files from the physical server and delivers them to the user. So, web servers must serve different pages to different users at the same time.

Most popular web servers

According to the W3Techs’ statistics, the top 3 web servers — as of May 2022 — are Nginx, Apache and Cloudflare Server. According to Netcraft’s statistics, the 3 most used web servers — as of May 2022 — are Nginx, Apache and OpenResty.

Nginx

Nginx is an open-source, high-performance web server, released in 2004. It has become one of the most used web servers, together with Apache. Nginx is an ideal solution for managing high-traffic websites. Many high-visibility websites and applications, such as Netflix or Pinterest, use the Nginx web server. As of May 2022, Nginx holds 33.5% of the market according to W3Techs and 30.71% according to Netcraft.

Its great success lies significantly on its ability to tackle the c10k problem — which stops some web servers from managing more than 10,000 simultaneous connections. It has two different versions: OSS Nginx and Nginx Plus. Nginx is often used as a software load balancer and works smoothly with PHP-FPM.

Some of Nginx’s main features

  • Free and open-source
  • Asynchronous, event-driven architecture
  • High-performance
  • Low memory consumption
  • Compatibility with IPv6

Nginx versions history

Nginx has two branches in the NGINX Open Source code repository:

  • Mainline releases.
  • Stable releases.
Mainline releases

Mainline releases feature an odd number in the second part of the version number. They are actively developed, with releases every four to six weeks, and add the latest features and bug fixes.

Nginx mainline releasesRelease date
Nginx 0.1.xOctober 2004
Nginx 0.3.xOctober 2005
Nginx 0.5.xDecember 2006
Nginx 0.7.xMay 2008
Nginx 0.9.xNovember 2010
Nginx 1.1.xAugust 2011
Nginx 1.3.xMay 2012
Nginx 1.5.xMay 2013
Nginx 1.7.xApril 2014
Nginx 1.9.xApril 2015
Nginx 1.11.xMay 2016
Nginx 1.13.xApril 2017
Nginx 1.15.xJune 2018
Nginx 1.17.xMay 2019
Nginx 1.19.xMay 2020
Nginx 1.21.xMay 2021
Stable releases

Stable releases feature an even number in the second part of the version number. They only receive updates for high-severity bug fixes.

Nginx stable releasesRelease date
Nginx 0.2.xSeptember 2005
Nginx 0.4.xAugust 2006
Nginx 0.6.xJune 2007
Nginx 0.8.xJune 2009
Nginx 1.0.xApril 2011
Nginx 1.2.xApril 2012
Nginx 1.4.xApril 2013
Nginx 1.6.xApril 2014
Nginx 1.8.xApril 2015
Nginx 1.10.xApril 2016
Nginx 1.12.xApril 2017
Nginx 1.14.xApril 2018
Nginx 1.16.xApril 2019
Nginx 1.18.xApril 2020
Nginx 1.20.xApril 2021
Nginx 1.22.xMay 2022

Apache HTTP Server

The Apache web server, officially known as Apache HTTP Server, was released in 1995. Apache is a free, open-source web server; developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It is one of the most popular web servers around the world. As of May 2022, Apache holds 31.5% of the market according to W3Techs and 22.99% according to Netcraft.

Apache is highly flexible and customizable; functionalities can be easily turned on and off. It offers a lot of modules for security, authentication, caching, URL rewriting, etc. Besides, it allows custom server configurations using the .htaccess file. It also supports many applications: CMS, ERP, web frameworks, programming languages… Apache HTTP Server is a stable solution and one of the most reliable web servers.

Some of Apache’s main features

  • Free and open-source
  • Module-based architecture
  • Easy configuration and customization
  • Regular updates and security patches
  • Big community of developers
  • Compatibility with IPv6

The Apache HTTP Server Project aims to develop and maintain a commercial-grade, open-source server for modern operating systems. It also aims to provide a secure, efficient and extensible web server which provides HTTP services while meeting the current HTTP standards. The Apache HTTP Server project is part of the Apache Software Foundation, the world’s largest open-source foundation.

Apache HTTP Server versions history

Apache HTTP Server releasesState
Apache 1.3.xHistorical release
Apache 2.0.xHistorical release
Apache 2.1.xHistorical release
Apache 2.2.xHistorical release
Apache 2.3.xHistorical release
Apache 2.4.xCurrent stable release
Apache 2.5.xCurrent development version

The last stable release of Apache HTTP Server, as of May 2022, is Apache HTTP Server 2.4.53.

LiteSpeed Web Server

LiteSpeed is a paid, proprietary web server developed by LiteSpeed Technologies; released in 2003. It has three licenses available: Free Starter, Site Owner and Web Host. It is a paid alternative for high-traffic websites, offering high-performance and great scalability. As of May 2022, LiteSpeed holds 12.1% of the market according to W3Techs and 4.35% according to Netcraft.

The LiteSpeed web server is optimized to securely handle thousands of concurrent customers, without consuming a lot of memory and CPU resources. It is compatible with many popular control panels — such as Plesk and DirectAdmin — and with many features which are commonly used in Apache, for instance, mod_security, mod_rewrite and .htaccess configuration.

Some of LiteSpeed’s main features

  • Event-driven architecture
  • Lightweight
  • Easy configuration
  • Built-in anti-DDoS features
  • Zero-downtime maintenance

LiteSpeed Web Server versions history

LiteSpeed Web Server (LSWS) releasesRelease date
LSWS 1.0.xJuly 2003
LSWS 1.1.xOctober 2003
LSWS 1.2.xNovember 2003
LSWS 1.3.xFebruary 2004
LSWS 1.5.xJune 2004
LSWS 2.0.xMarch 2005
LSWS 2.1.xSeptember 2005
LSWS 2.2.xAugust 2006
LSWS 3.0.xMarch 2007
LSWS 3.1.xMay 2007
LWS 3.2.xJuly 2007
LSWS 3.3.xNovember 2007
LSWS 4.0.xMarch 2009
LSWS 4.1.xApril 2011
LSWS 4.2.xSeptember 2012
LSWS 5.0.xApril 2015
LSWS 5.2.xJuly 2017
LSWS 5.3.xAugust 2018
LSWS 5.4.xJuly 2019
LSWS 6.0.xMarch 2021

The latest release of LiteSpeed Web Server, as of May 2022, is LSWS 6.0.12.

Microsoft-IIS

Microsoft-IIS or Microsoft Internet Information Services is a web server released by Microsoft in 1995. It was developed to be used with Windows NT. Its modular architecture allows adding and removing extensions/modules easily. It also includes multiple built-in security features and authentication mechanisms. Microsoft-IIS is often used to host ASP.NET web applications and static sites. As of May 2022, Microsoft-IIS holds 6% of the market according to W3Techs and 3% according to Netcraft.

Some of Microsoft-IIS’ main features

  • Module-based architecture
  • Security and control
  • Remote management

Microsoft IIS versions history

Microsoft IIS releasesRelease dateEnd date
Microsoft IIS 6.0May 2003July 2015
Microsoft IIS 7.0May 2008January 2020
Microsoft IIS 7.5October 2009January 2020
Microsoft IIS 8October 2012October 2023
Microsoft IIS 8.5 (Windows 8.1)November 2013January 2023
Microsoft IIS 8.5 (Windows Server 2012 R2)November 2013October 2023
Microsoft IIS 10.0July 2015
Microsoft IIS 10.0 (Windows Server 2016)October 2016January 2027
Microsoft IIS 10.0 (Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel))October 2017
Microsoft IIS 10.0 (Windows Server 2019)November 2018January 2029

The latest release of Microsoft Internet Information Services, as of May 2022, is Microsoft IIS 10.0 version 1709.

OpenResty

OpenResty is a web server, with an event-driven architecture, based on Nginx and LuaJIT. It is able to handle thousands of connections at the same time, as it is designed for building scalable, high-performance web applications and services. As of May 2022, OpenResty holds 8.03% of the market according to Netcraft.

Some of OpenResty’s main features

  • Event-driven architecture
  • High performance

OpenResty versions history

OpenResty releasesRelease date
OpenResty 0.8.54.xJune 2011
OpenResty 1.0.4.xJuly 2011
OpenResty 1.0.5.xAugust 2011
OpenResty 1.0.6.xSeptember 2011
OpenResty 1.0.8.xOctober 2011
OpenResty 1.0.9.xNovember 2011
OpenResty 1.0.10.xNovember 2011
OpenResty 1.0.11.xFebruary 2012
OpenResty 1.0.15.xApril 2012
OpenResty 1.2.1.xJune 2012
OpenResty 1.2.3.xAugust 2012
OpenResty 1.2.4.xOctober 2012
OpenResty 1.2.6.xJanuary 2013
OpenResty 1.2.7.xFebruary 2013
OpenResty 1.2.8.xApril 2013
OpenResty 1.4.1.xJuly 2013
OpenResty 1.4.2.xAugust 2013
OpenResty 1.4.3.xOctober 2013
OpenResty 1.5.8.xJanuary 2014
OpenResty 1.5.11.xMarch 2014
OpenResty 1.5.12.xApril 2014
OpenResty 1.7.0.xJune 2014
OpenResty 1.7.2.xJuly 2014
OpenResty 1.7.4.xAugust 2014
OpenResty 1.7.7.xNovember 2014
OpenResty 1.7.10.xFebruary 2015
OpenResty 1.9.3.xJuly 2015
OpenResty 1.9.7.xDecember 2015
OpenResty 1.9.15.xDecember 2015
OpenResty 1.11.2.xAugust 2016
OpenResty 1.13.6.xNovember 2017
OpenResty 1.15.8.xNovember 2018
OpenResty 1.17.8.xJune 2020
OpenResty 1.19.3.xJune 2021
OpenResty 1.19.9.xAugust 2021
OpenResty 1.21.4.xMay 2022

The latest release of OpenResty, as of May 2022, is OpenResty 12.21.4.1.

This list includes some of the most used web servers, but there are many other alternatives available. The perfect choice will depend on the project requirements and goals, since a static website for a small business won’t demand the same features as a high-traffic site built on WordPress.

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