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Apache HTTP Server is a free and open-source hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) web server commonly used on Unix, Linux, and Solaris platforms. Created by American software developer, Robert McCool, it was released in 1995 and quickly obtained a majority hold on the web server market. The primary advantage of Apache is that it is generally free and typically packaged as one fourth of the LAMP stack.

Apache is currently one of the most widely-used web servers on the Internet and is very secure, fast, and reliable. The Apache web server application helps serve web content that is accessible through the Internet. Apache accepts directory or HTTP requests from Internet users and sends the desired information back in the form of files and Web pages.

What is the Function of a Web Server?

A web server is a program used to store, process, and deliver web pages. The basic function is for web hosting, and the protocol used for the web pages is HTTP. 

When users search for website files in the web browser address bar, the web server takes the request over the Internet to its respective server. From there, it returns the target files to the web browser from which they were searched.

Available Web Servers

Apache is not the only web server software available on the market. Here is a list of other options available:

  • Nginx
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Node.js
  • Lighttpd
  • Cherokee
  • Microsoft IIS
  • Appweb
  • Hiawatha

Apache Web Server Features

Apache web servers support all the operating systems (Linux, Unix, Windows, Mac OS, Free BSD, etc.).

  • It has a modular structure, so customization is easy.
  • It is easy to solve administrative issues.
  • It is a more stable web server when compared to other web servers.
  • It manages load balancing.
  • It supports URL rewriting.
  • It supports .htaccess.
  • It manages Gzip compression/decompression.
  • It supports HTTP/2.
  • It supports FTP.
  • It manages IPV4 and IPV6.
  • It supports session tracking.
  • It offers the WebDAV extension.
  • It offers geolocation based on IP address.
  • It has simplified configuration.
  • It has native Windows NT Unicode Support.
  • It supports common language interfaces, including Perl, Python, TCL, and PHP.
  • It supports a variety of popular authentication modules like mod_auth, mod_access, mod_digest, and others.

Apache Use Cases

What is Apache used for and why use it? Administrators might use Apache because of its longevity, free price tag, and cross-platform nature, working on both Unix-based and Windows servers. It is also customizable due to its open source code and structure. Apache is beneficial because it supports server-side languages like PHP, Python, Perl, and TCL.

Apache is straightforward to configure and relatively beginner-friendly. In addition, it is highly stable and has been for years. Most importantly, it is highly optimized for WordPress websites.

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are four specific use cases for Apache:

Finance

Financial institutions can use Apache web servers to fight cyberfraud by identifying and preventing unauthorized transactions.

Healthcare

A data scientist can use servers running Apache to help in data processing for research on topics ranging from the common cold to immunotherapy cancer treatment.

E-commerce

As of 2021, over 455 million websites use WordPress. By using WooCommerce with Apache’s WordPress optimization, E-commerce brands fuel their websites and applications to serve users worldwide.

Travel

Travel websites help users plan the perfect trip. These brands can use Apache web servers for serving multiple user requests.

Conclusion

What is Apache? It is an HTTP web server that has proven to be a reliable component in many popular server stacks and the early Internet's backbone. To date, Apache still plays a vital role in many technology stacks and companies. Even as new server technologies emerge, Apache remains a web server that every developer should learn how to handle and configure.

Now that we’ve answered the question “What is Apache,” Liquid Web stands ready to support your Apache web server hosted on our infrastructure. We have VPS Hosting that is perfect for your next project. Contact our sales team for assistance getting started.

About the Author: Ronald Caldwell

Ron is a Technical Writer at Liquid Web working with the Marketing team. He has 9+ years of experience in Technology. He obtained an Associate of Science in Computer Science from Prairie State College in 2015. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart and lives in Michigan with her and their children.

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