You can’t build a WordPress website without a web server. Web servers are the foundation of web hosting and connect websites to the internet.
WordPress doesn’t require any single type of web server. You can install the content management system (CMS) on any type of web server that runs Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) and a database management solution like MySQL or MariaDB. Two of the most popular types of web servers for WordPress include Apache and Nginx. You can run PHP and a database management solution with both of them, so they both support WordPress.
What Is Apache?
Originally released in the mid-1990s, Apache is a type of open-source server software. It powers approximately 31 percent of all servers, according to W3Techs.
You can install WordPress on an Apache server. The Apache software is compatible with PHP and a database management solution. PHP is a scripting language that WordPress uses to fetch content. A database management solution, on the other hand, is software for creating, viewing, and editing databases. WordPress uses a database to store content, so you’ll have to create a database with this software.
What Is Nginx?
Nginx is another type of open-source server software. It was released in 2004, making it newer than Apache. Prior to its release, Apache was the leading server software. Many high-traffic websites, though, were experiencing performance issues while running Apache. Software engineer Igor Sysoev developed Nginx as a solution. Nginx is now the most popular web server. According to W3Techs, over 33 percent of servers use it.
Nginx is designed to improve the performance of high-traffic websites. It leverages an asynchronous structure that protects against bottlenecks attributed to high traffic. Like Apache servers, Nginx servers can run PHP. Therefore, you can install WordPress on an Nginx server.
Differences Between Apache and Nginx Servers
While they are both supported by WordPress, Apache and Nginx servers aren’t the same. They use different architectures. Apache servers use a forked, threaded architecture. Each connection between a visitor and your website will result in a new thread. Apache servers are forked, meaning they can only support a small and limited number of concurrent connections at any given time.
Nginx servers are not forked. The Nginx software uses an asynchronous structure that allows for more concurrent threads. Nginx servers can essentially process and respond to multiple requests at once. They operate in a loop. After completing an event, Nginx servers will break the connection with the visitor and remove the event from their loop. These processes won’t interfere with other events. Thanks to its asynchronous, loop-based architecture, Nginx is ideal for high-traffic websites.
Nginx servers typically use less memory than Apache servers. The asynchronous architecture of Nginx is more memory efficient than that of Apache. Even if your server offers a small amount of memory, you should still be able to set up an Nginx server. Nginx is classified as a lightweight server product that uses fewer resources, including memory, than Apache.
Apache comes pre-installed on many Linux servers. Linux is an operating system (OS). Whether you choose Apache or Nginx, you’ll still need an OS. With that said, Linux servers often come with Apache by default. If you subscribe to a Linux web hosting service, your server will likely come with Apache.
Apache servers support .htaccess files. You can create one or more .htaccess files to configure an Apache server. Nginx servers don’t support .htaccess files. To configure an Nginx server, you’ll have to update it directly using a command terminal.
Another benefit of using an Apache server is permalinks. Permalinks are custom link slugs in WordPress. You can choose from one of several permalinks to change the link slugs of your website’s pages. With an Apache server, you just need to click the permalinks option under the “Settings” menu in WordPress. With an Nginx server, you’ll have to perform some additional tasks.
If you have an Nginx server, you’ll have to click your preferred permalinks option in WordPress, and then you’ll have to manually configure it to use those permalinks. Apache servers don’t require manual configuration for permalinks. After clicking a permalinks option in WordPress and saving the changes, it will take effect.
Choosing a Server for WordPress
You can install and run WordPress on either an Apache or Nginx server. Apache servers are typically easier to configure. Your server may already come with Apache if it runs the Linux OS. And unlike Nginx servers, Apache servers support .htaccess files for configuration.
Depending on your website’s traffic, you may want to use an Nginx server. Nginx servers can handle more traffic than Apache servers. They are particularly effective at handling a large number of concurrent connections. If your website has hundreds or thousands of visitors using it at any given time, an Nginx server may be the better choice.
Nginx servers are able to handle more concurrent connections than Apache servers because of their asynchronous architecture. The website wordpress.com is powered by an Nginx server. With nearly a half-billion visitors per month, wordpress.com has a lot of concurrent connections. Nginx servers can process multiple requests simultaneously to handle high traffic such as this.
There are types of web servers for WordPress, two of the most popular being Apache and Nginx. Apache servers are simpler and easier to configure. While Nginx servers have a higher a steeper learning curve, they are faster and more memory efficient. Of course, you can start with an Apache server and migrate to an Nginx server later.
LiteSpeed Web Server
Our super-fast WordPress Hosting and Elastic Hosting are powered by another option – LiteSpeed Web Server. The LiteSpeed Web Server combines the benefits of Apache and NGINX by allowing more concurrent connections to be processed faster like NGINX does while keeping the out-of-the-box compatibility and full .htaccess support that Apache does. The LiteSpeed Web Server is a drop-in replacement with Apache, so everything that works with Apache will work with LiteSpeed.