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Web Servers - Apache, NginX, and more

Web Servers – Apache, NginX, What else?

We are often so eager to use our new HOSTAFRICA VPS that we jump in and use the default software that either comes with the VPS or that comes to mind. Through the years we have come to know the Apache/Httpd web server as the backbone of the internet. On Windows, it has always been IIS, but Apache also became available for Windows as an option. Due to Apache’s poor performance under certain load conditions and good marketing, NginX has come forward as a solution in high load scenarios. We thus almost never ask ourselves what ELSE is available. Well, here I will introduce you to a few worthy web servers in no particular order of preference.


Lighttpd

This may be a lesser known http server, but it powers sites such as Youtube and Wikipedia. It was around long before NginX, but many discounted it purely due to its name. This was partly Microsoft’s fault as they called any free product with a limited feature set “light”.

Lighttpd is anything but limited. Due to continued development, it can and will match any commonly used Apache feature and it can function as a brilliant load balancer as well. It uses much less memory than Apache and is incredibly fast serving out pages under load. It is also very easy to set up.


Cherokee

Looking for a web server with a web-based control panel? Look no further. Cherokee is cross-platform and can be installed on Linux, OS-X or Windows. Fully functional, yet still faster and less resource-hungry than Apache, it can serve both static and dynamic content with ease. Even GoPro action cameras use Cherokee as their embedded interface driver. It is written in C, Python and JavaScript. It may be the new kid on the block, but it is well written and runs very well.


Caddy

Caddy is an open source, HTTP/2 enabled web server written in Go. One of Caddy’s most notable features is enabling HTTPS by default. Caddy is also extremely easy to configure for “non-geeks”.  It has pre-compiled binaries for Linux, Mac/OS-X, Windows, Android and BSD which makes it easy to install.

Caddy is full featured and security is also good. One nice feature is that Caddy uses  Let’s Encrypt as the default certificate authority for HTTPS and automatically keeps the certificates renewed.


Hiawatha

Need a secure web server that can stop an SQL injection in its tracks? Hiawatha can do just that – and more. Hiawatha started in January 2002 as a small web server, suitable for servers with old hardware. This is a light web server with good performance and some innovative security functions. The easiest way to secure existing web servers is to use Hiawatha as an application firewall to protect them.

Hiawatha also comes with a monitoring tool, the Hiawatha Monitor, a PHP application that communicates with your web servers (it can monitor multiple servers) to collect information about bandwidth usage, number of requests, errors and attacks.

The five web servers above are all mainstream, stable and well tested. There are other servers out there but do your research properly before deciding.

Happy Hosting!


The Author

Michael O.

Michael is the founder, managing director, and CEO of HOSTAFRICA. He studied at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and was inspired by Cape Town's beauty to bring his German expertise to Africa. Before HOSTAFRICA, Michael was the Managing Director of Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange AG, one of Germany's largest virtual server providers.

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