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What Is a Web Server? How It Works, Features, Uses and More

A web server is a piece of software that responds to requests for web resources, whereas a web site is simply a collection of web pages.


Web servers store and deliver website content. Depending on the customer’s needs, these can include pictures, phrases, app data, videos, and more. When a user clicks a link or downloads a document, the web browser sends a data request to the website. The user clicks the link or downloads the content. Read on to learn more about web servers.


What is a web server?

A web server is the combination of hardware and software that responds to web queries using HTTP and other protocols. The primary purpose of a web server is to make the content of a website visible in a user’s browser while the user is connected to the internet.

If talking hardware side, a web server is a supercomputer that holds their software and website’s text, photos, video, and application data. Web servers connect to the internet and share data with web-connected devices.

Apart from software point of view, a web server software allows multiple sections to handle web user access to hosted data, such as HTTP server. It reads all URLs (Web Address). HTTP server renders all hosted website content to end user’s machine.

HTTP and other protocols allow a web server to respond to client requests on the Web. A web server implements these protocols using software and hardware. Web servers deliver requested website content to users. Upon a user’s request, the website’s pages are stored, processed, and sent. The web server supports FTP and SMTP (also known as SMTP). They can transfer mails and store files.

When a web server’s hardware is connected to the internet, data can be shared with other devices. Web server software governs how users evaluate hosted files. Running a web server exemplifies client-server. All webhosting computers should have webserver software installed. Web servers are used for hosting website data and developing online applications.

How web server works?

Domain names are used to access web server software. This ensures that the website’s content is downloaded to the user’s browser. The webserver program has multiple components, including an HTTP server. HTTP server understands HTTP and URLs.

Web server software and data are saved on the web server hardware, which is a computer. This includes documents, HTML, JavaScript, and image files.

Here’s how a web server works. Web browsers use HTTP to request files from web servers. Firefox and Chrome are browsers. After granting permission to handle the request, the HTTP server accepts it. It looks for the requested material and sends it over HTTP.

When a browser requests a page from a web server, many phases occur. The web browser gets the domain name’s IP address when the user enters the URL into the address bar. This is done by searching the cache or translating the URL using DNS. DNS converts URLs. This goes to the website’s server.

The browser then sends an HTTP request to the web server, requesting a file. The web server then sends the browser the requested page using HTTP. Web servers deliver an error message if the requested page doesn’t exist or there’s another problem. Browsers display web pages.

Web server may host many domains.

Uses of web server

The following are some examples of how web servers can be used.

A web server is a component of a broader bundle of internet and intranet-related programs that are used to accomplish these goals; for example:

  • Hosting websites
  • Sending and receiving emails
  • Transferring web pages to and from a server
  • Developing and distributing one’s own website pages
  • Download the FTP request
  • Requests for files to be downloaded via the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Basic web servers offer server-side scripting, which is needed to run scripts. This can be changed according customer needs. Server-side scripting operates on the machine that hosts the server and provides access to the database. ASP and PHP are two server-side scripting languages. The approach produces HTML documents.

Types of web server

In this section, we will shed light on the many types of web servers; below, we will discuss each one in more detail.

  • Apache HTTP Server
  • Internet Information Services
  • LiteSpeed Web Server
  • Lighttpd
  • Sun Java System Web Server
  • Jigsaw Server
  • Nginx Server
  • Google Web Server
  • Node.js

You can also refer to this list of web servers as examples of web servers.

Apache HTTP Server – Apache Software Foundation created the popular Apache HTTP server. This open source server supports UNIX, Linux, Windows, Mac O/S, and more. Apache Web runs 60% of systems.

It’s modular, so you may customize Apache and add your own modules as needed. This is more stable than other web server uses, and administrative issues can be rapidly rectified.

Internet Information Services – Microsoft’s server is superfast. IIS server has all Apache’s functionality but isn’t open source. Windows NT/2000 and 2003 can run IIS server (and may be on upcoming new Windows version also). Its customer support is excellent, so you can resolve server issues with their help.

LiteSpeed Web Server (LSWS) – It’s a commercial web server with outstanding performance. LiteSpeed can enhance web server speed and running costs. It has mod rewrite,.htaccess, and mod security.

LSWS can replace all Apache functions and is straightforward to use and switch from.

Lighttpd – It was designed in March 2003. It’s a FreeBSD open-source web server. Lighttpd is different from other servers since it uses less memory and CPU. Catalyst and Ruby on Rails are boosting its popularity.

Sun Java System Web Server – This server supports PHP, Python, and other Web 2.0 languages, scripts, and technologies. It’s not open source, therefore you can’t modify it.

It supports multithreading, multiprocessing, data protection, and CLI.

Jigshaw web server – The Java programming language was utilized to introduce the Jigsaw server; this server can execute PHP code as well as CGI (common gateway interference) scripts. This server is provided as an open-source program, allowing you to tweak its functionality to match your individual needs. Furthermore, the most recent version of its software can be downloaded and installed on any of your devices that are Java-compatible.

Nginx Web Server –  It is yet another open-source web server that provides excellent performance, increased dependability, easy configuration, and reduced resource consumption. It is also completely free to use. This server has IMAP and POP3 proxy server capability enabled.

It is not possible for it to manage all of the requests using threads; instead, it employs a more scalable event-driven design that implements a modest and predictable number even while under pressure.

Google Web Server (GWS) – It is a web server that is built on Linux and is utilized by Google for the provision of their online services. It occupies a central position in everything that Google does on the internet.

Node.js server – This type of server, offers the JavaScript environment on the server edge, which is used in network applications such as web servers.

It was first presented to the public by Ryan Dahi in 2009, and although it is managed by the Node.js Foundation, it receives assistance from the Collaborative Project program of the Linux Foundation.

Web Server features

In addition to HTTP support, most web servers include the following features to process incoming requests and responses:

File Logging: Web servers employ log files to record events and actions. Contains request, error, and security logs. When a web server receives a new request, it adds a line to the log file and stores it.

Authentication: Many servers allow users to use this feature before granting them access to a website’s resources. Authenticating functions often need the usage of a login name and password.

Bandwidth restriction: Web server’s bandwidth is how much data a it can send or process at once. Megabits-per-second measure bandwidth (Mbps). Bandwidth constraint slows answer rates, preventing network overload and ensuring ongoing file delivery.

Storage: It refers to the amount of free space on a web server’s hard disk that may be used to store data and decides whether a server can host a website.

Here are some extra web server components:

Programming: A web server’s programming language is used to build and run programs. Users access these programs. PHP and Python are popular programming languages. These languages are server-side scripting languages.

Uptime: Uptime refers to a web server’s ability to process requests and deliver files. This includes active and idle server time. The availability of a hosted website depends on the server’s uptime. Industry standard is 99.9% guarantee.

The Functioning of the Web Server

In the next paragraphs, we will go over the working of a web server, so make sure that you read the explanations very carefully.

A user is able to view a web page on the internet when their browser sends multiple requests to the web server for web pages, and the web server replies by displaying those pages. This allows the user’s browser to view the web page.

how web server works

Fetching IP Address from DNS: As the initial step in the process of collecting an IP address from DNS, the web browser is responsible for obtaining the IP (Internet Protocol) address from the domain name. There are two methods for obtaining an IP address: the first method involves searching for the IP address in a cache, and the second method involves asking the IP address from a large number of DNS servers (Domain Name Servers).

Browser Request For Full URL: Requesting the Complete URL from the Browser Due to the fact that a web browser is aware of the IP address at which a website is hosted, it is able to make a request to the server for the complete URL.

Web Server sends Requested Page: The web page that was requested is then sent to the web browser by the web server after it has been processed. The web page that was requested has now been sent out by the web server once it finally answered. The web browser will display the relevant error message in the event that those web sites are not displayed. For instance, if the sites that you have requested do not exist, you will see a message that says “Error 404 will be displayed.” An error notification with the code 401 will appear in the event that the user inputs invalid credentials, such as their login and password.

Requested Web Page is Displayed on the Browser: The web page that you requested will be displayed on the screen by the browser: In the end, the user’s web browser will receive and display the user’s correctly constructed request for a web page on the screen.

Web servers can be either static or dynamic

Web servers are able to offer content that is either static or dynamic. A machine running HTTP software is the essential component of a static web server. Web browsers receive the files of a website from static web servers, which have not been modified in any way.

A static web server is the foundation of a dynamic web server, which also includes additional software. Application servers and database management systems are often the two components that make up this supplementary software.

Before providing hosted files to an HTTP server, dynamic web servers will typically update the files they have housed. Because of this, it is able to generate dynamic information and deliver it to a web browser.


Web servers primary function is  to host websites, handling HTTP requests, and providing users with web content are the key responsibilities of these entities. Therefore, in order to make your website viewable online, you will want either your own server or web hosting from a third party.

If you go for the second option, you will need to find a web host who will take responsibility for the server and guarantee both its safety and its performance. If you do this, you’ll have more time to focus on other parts of the growth of your website and business.



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