NGINX vs. Apache Magento -Which is the Best Web Server?
NGINX and Apache are popular web servers. Together they serve almost 50% of all web pages on the internet.
For high-traffic Magento stores, you need a server that is quick in handling requests. During peak traffic season, the server should be able to provide the same speed.
A web server should offer load balancing as well as optimize resource usage for the high availability of your site.
In this article, let’s examine both Apache and NGINX servers. We will evaluate the pros and cons of each server and see which server is best for Magento hosting.
Overview of Apache HTTP server
Apache is a free and open-source web server. Apache was released in 1995. After the release, it quickly became the most popular web server.
Apache server works with Linux, Windows, macOS, and other Unix-like systems. It establishes a connection between the server and the browsers. It is based on the client-server model.
Its architecture includes Apache Core and modules. Since it is open-source, developers can build and configure modules.
Interesting facts about Apache:
- The Apache Software Foundation maintains Apache. It comprises an open community of developers.
- It played an essential role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web.
- Apache is part of the popular web application stack, LAMP. The components include Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
- As of July 2021, it has a market share of 25% of all websites.
Overview of NGINX
NGINX (pronounced engine-x) is a free, open-source web server. It can also be used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, HTTP caching, and mail proxy. It was developed by Igor Sysoev and released in 2004.
NGINX was made to address the performance limitations of Apache. Web servers such as Apache couldn’t handle a large number of requests quickly.
It was also designed for high concurrency. The server has a low memory footprint. It consumes fewer resources such as CPU and RAM.
Nginx uses an event-driven approach. The requests are handled in a single thread. It does not create new processes for each web request.
Interesting facts about NGINX:
- Today, NGINX is used by Airbnb, Dropbox, Netflix, Tumblr, and WordPress.
- It was initially written to solve the C10k problem. It can handle many clients at the same time.
- NGINX Plus is the paid edition that comes with advanced features.
- As of July 2021, it has a market share of 36% of all websites.
NGINX vs. Apache Comparison
Apache works on a process-driven approach. Apache also follows a multi-threaded model.
- Process-Driven Approach
When the parent process receives a request, it creates a child process (a thread) to handle it. Every process contains one thread. The thread can handle only one request.
The drawback of this model is excessive resource consumption. Every thread takes up some space in the RAM. Apache can easily handle requests if it’s below the resource limit. Once it reaches the limit, you can face issues such as slow speed.
- Multi processing Modules
Apache developers later created the Multi processing Modules (MPMs). It handles the increasing traffic. You also get a flexible architecture.
The three main Apache MPMs are:
- Process (Pre-fork) MPM
- Worker MPM
- Event MPM
Apache works on the blocker module framework. The new requests have to wait in the queue. The processes have to be free before taking in new requests. That’s why it cannot process requests fast when the traffic increases.
Nginx implements an event-driven approach.
- Event-driven Approach
The master process forms many child processes. It is used to handle requests. Once the requests are sent to the child processes, the master moves on to get more requests.
The three types of child processes are:
- The cache loader
- The cache manager
- The worker process
The cache loader and cache manager are used to load and store cache. It serves faster static content. The worker process handles the connections.
NGINX does not block connections. When one request is handled, the process moves on to other requests. It can process thousands of requests on a single thread. You don't get new threads for requests.
Unlike Apache, NGINX does not add resources on single requests. It can efficiently operate under heavy loads.
2. OS support
Apache supports all Unix operating systems. It includes Linux, BSD, Redhat, CentOS, and Fedora. It fully supports Microsoft Windows.
NGINX also supports Unix-like OS. It has partial support for Microsoft Windows.
It is recommended to use NGINX on Linux rather than Windows. The performance on Windows is not as stable as it is on UNIX.
3. Dynamic vs. Static content
- Static Content
Apache uses a file-based method to serve static content. The files are typically stored on the disk. Its performance is not considered to be top of the line.
NGINX is 2.1 times faster in serving static content than Apache. It has a speed advantage while serving concurrent static content.
- Dynamic Content
Apache processes dynamic content within the server. It does not have to rely on external help. The server can read PHP within its worker processes.
NGINX cannot process dynamic content natively. It uses an external processor such as PHP-FPM. That’s how it handles PHP and other requests for dynamic content. Even though the process is a bit complex, its performance is the same as Apache.
Apache follows a decentralized configuration.
.htaccess are placed inside a document directory. These files are read on every request. The changes are applied immediately. You don’t have to reload the server.
Apache includes additional configuration. It works on a per directory basis. Users get some control over the web content. But it does not give them access to the main configuration files.
NGINX does not interpret .htaccess files. It does not evaluate per directory. This framework allows it to serve requests faster.
Apache looks for .htaccess files on every request. That’s why it slows down the speed. In contrast, NGINX fetches the files from the central directory. It is better in terms of speed.
5. Flexibility & Modules
Apache offers 60+ pre-built modules. You can enable or disable the modules as per your needs. You can use them to serve dynamic content.
Apache modules are also used for caching, URL rewrites, and encryption. It offers more flexibility than NGINX.
The NGINX modules have to be compiled in the core code. The system has all the commonly used modules.
You can also add third-party plugins. It also doesn’t allow you to disable the modules. You can get dynamic modules in NGINX Plus (paid version). However, it has all the essential features that make it lighter and faster.
Both Apache and NGINX are secure web servers.
The Apache Security Team offers security advice on Apache projects. They also help in managing security threats. You get tips to fight brute force attacks.
NGINX offers security advisory to mitigate DDoS attacks. The NGINX Plus offers additional functionalities for security.
Since Apache is the older web server, it is well documented. You can find support via Apache’s User List.
You can use the #httpd channel on the IRC network. Apache has support on stack overflow, FAQs, and mailing lists to get quick answers.
NGINX documentation is also growing. You can get answers from stack overflow, forums, and mailing lists. Both the web servers have strong community support.
Which one is better for Magento: NGINX or Apache?
For an ecommerce platform like Magento, you require a server that can quickly handle multiple requests.
We would recommend the NGINX server for Magento. It can interpret requests fast. It is essential for any ecommerce site with flowing traffic. NGINX is also widely used as a reverse proxy and load balancer to manage high traffic.
Some of the top benefits of NGINX for Magento include:
- Follows an event-driven approach
- Lightweight and faster architecture
- Lower resource consumption
- Performs 2.5 times faster in fetching static content
- Manages concurrent requests quickly
NGINX is the preferred web server that helps you conserve server resources on your Magento store.
Nothing can beat the NGINX performance and low resource footprint. NGINX is quickly becoming the industry standard for Magento hosting.
To learn more about using cutting-edge technology for Magento hosting, check out our blog.