What Is A Web Server And Apache

what is apache

Web technologies have evolved highly in today's time. Almost everything happens over the web today. Different companies and businesses have different needs. Hence different technologies or software are used to fulfill them. Whatever profession you are in at some point, you will need software or web technologies to get your stuff done. To understand about the webserver, read these sections below. You will clear understanding about the server in depth from the sections below. wether you belong to web technology or not, knowing things in brief will help you always.

A Web server can be referred to both hardware as well as software. A web server is a computer that stores web server software or websites component files on a hardware side. A web server connects to the internet and interchanges the data with the other devices connected to the internet. On the software side, a web server controls the hosted files' access and is called an HTTP server. An HTTP server is a software that lets us view any desired website by hosting it for us on entering the domain name of that particular website.

When a browser needs a file hosted on a web server, the browser requests a file using HTTP, and then the request reaches a web server (hardware where the file is stored). Inside the hardware, the HTTP server accepts the request, finds the requested file, and then sends it back to the browser from where the request was generated through HTTP.

Any websites can be published either using a static or dynamic webserver.

A static web server is a web server that makes available any content when requested. A dynamic web server is a web server consisting of a static web server and additional software called an application server or the database.

There are different types of web servers available:

●Apache HTTP server

●Microsoft Internet Information Services

●Nginx

●Lighttpd

●Sun Java system web server

Of all of them mentioned above, the Apache HTTP server is the most popular web server globally.

What is Apache

Apache is open-source, and a very popular platform for web server developed and maintained by Apache Foundation. It's a popular web server and the oldest server, first released in 1995. Many prominent companies in this world use Apache, running on almost 67% of web servers. It can be customized for a different environment to satisfy their needs by using some extensions and modules.

Apache is a sectioned application, which means that extra features can be added to its core. Apache is mostly connected with SQL databases like MYSQL or MariaDB and a server-side programming language like PHP. This programming language is mostly preferred over others as it gives additional features and tools for installing over any operating systems. This helps developers to create adaptive and responsive websites.

Apache server also has a very popular module called Apache Tomcat. It's a web container that allows users to run Servlet and Java server pages. Apache Tomcat is used only for hosting JAVA based code. Tomcat servers are very popular among the developers for creating dynamic websites or web applications based on the Java Software Platform. Both Apache HTTP server and Apache Tomcat can be run side-by-side for PHP and JAVA content projects. While both running side by side, the Apache server can handle the dynamic and static content while Tomcat handles the JSP part. Apache Tomcat is not as efficient as Apache web server as Apache server is a much better choice for handling dynamic websites built completely on PHP, but when it comes to a site that's completely built on JSP, then Tomcat slides above the Apache server in the efficiency list. Even WordPress, one of the most popular hosting provider, use Apache as its web server software.

How Apache Works?

A web server is a software that accepts a request from clients and then sends the response to that request after some security checks on your HTTP request. Apache web servers also work on the same principle, but it has some modules in extra, which add even more functionality to this software like MPM for handling multi-processing modes or mod_ssl for allowing SSL v3 and TLS support. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layers, and TLS stands for Transport Layer Security. They both are cryptographic policy that converts data and confirms a connection when moving data on the internet. TLS is just a recent and more upgraded version of SSL. Server administrators can anytime enable or disable the additional functionality of any module. Apache webserver has modules for caching, password authentication, security, URL rewriting, and many more. Apache's main work is the communication over networks for which it uses TCP/IP protocol ( Transmission control protocol/Internet protocol ). TCP/IP helps in the communication of devices connected over the same network.

The most common features found in Apache are

● core enhancements

● asynchronous support

● configuration for pre -requests

● timeout features

● Virtual directive host

● Bandwidth throttling

● WebDAV

● Balancing of load

● Rewriting of URL

● Tracking of Session

● Geolocation on the basis of IP

htaccess

You can even set up your server configuration using .htaccess files.

IPV6

It's the latest version of internet protocol through which any device connected over the internet can be located.

FTP

A standard network protocol is used to transfer files between a client and the server on a computer network.

HTTP/2

You can send multiple data requests in parallel over a single TCP connection.

Bandwidth throttling

It means that the ISP or internet service provider can willingly slow down or speed up the internet service.

WebDAV

It stands for web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning and allows users to edit and manage files on remote servers collectively.

Load balancing

It's a productive allocation of traffics obtained either from network or applications across multiple servers in a service station.

URL rewriting

It's used to change or modify the URL or uniform resource locator to a required format.

Session tracking

It's used to record every action of the user on the internet.

Geolocation based on IP address

Locating any device on the internet by mapping its IP address to geographic locations.

Structure of Apache

One can install Apache on different types of OS, and in all the platforms used, a hosting website will have a few main directories:

●docs

●conf

●logs

●CGI-bin

htdocs - it is a directory whose documents are available for all the clients connecting through the internet. Since the directories in docs are publicly available for all, the right handling of files is really important for not compromising the server's security and safety.

Conf - it is a directory where all configuration files of the server are placed. Configuration files are those plain text where rules and regulations are added to control the action and performance of the webserver. Each rule is placed on a separate line, and the hash (#) symbol displays a comment, so the line after the symbol is ignored.

It is a directory where server logs are stored and contain Apache access logs and error logs. The Apache HTTP server supports a collection of different mechanisms for logging everything that occurs on it, from the opening request, over URL mapping process, to the connection's final commitment, including any delusions that may have surfaced in the process.

CGI-bin - it is a directory where CGI (common gateway interface) scripts are stored. A script or program through which a web server interacts with the content-generating programs is called CGI scripts or CGI programs. These programs or scripts are written to be carried out by Apache with the assistance of its clients.

The above directory names may change from server to server, depending on the versions of Apache installed and the operating system on which it has been installed, contributions of all the four remaining same.

Installation and configuration guide to the apache webserver

● First of all, download the Apache's desired version by visiting the apache web server's official website and click on this file.

● After downloading the setup, double click on the file to run the installer when you reach the server dialog box's information, type "localhost" for the Domain of Network and Server Name.

● Your desired email address for the"administrator email address" field. You can even change these details later on from your configuration files. Leave the "for all users on port 80, as a service" field as it is and click on next.

● You will be asked for the setup type in the next window, select "typical," and again click next. Now let the installer install in the default folder, or you can even choose the folder in which you wish to install the software. It gets installed in "c://Program Files//Apache Group//" by default. Now click on next.

● Now, this is the last step to installation. Click on the install button to install and set up Apache on your system, and then click on the "finish" button once the installation is complete.

After the installation has finished, the apache installer will automatically start the apache server. If you want to close the service and start it only when needed, then go to the control panel on your computer > Administrative tools > Services, and find the "Apache 2" service there and double click on it. From here, you can stop the running service and can even change the startup type to "manual." Now you can start the service again whenever you wish by again going to the same option mentioned above. This is very useful for them who don't want to let the server run all the time and only need it while testing their scripts. If you want to change the server name that was used while setting up the Apache, then follow the following steps:

Start menu >click Programs > Apache server > then Configure server > and there edit the Apache "httpd.conf" Configuration file.

A loaded apache Configuration file will open in Notepad. Suppose you ever feel the need to load the configuration file with another ASCII editor. In that case, it can be found at "C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf" for Apache 2.0 and "C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache2.2" for Apache 2.2.

Search for these texts and rename the "localhost" with your desired name.

ServerName localhost: 80

If you want to change the administrator's email address that you used previously while setting up, then search for this line:

ServerAdmin

admin@localdomain.in (your previously used email address will be displayed here in place of this)

When you are fully satisfied with all the changes made, save the file. Just select the "save" option from the File menu or type Ctrl+S. After all the changes made in the configuration, you need to restart the server again. To restart the server, go to Start menu-> select Programs -> start Apache HTTP -> Control server apache -> Restart.

Testing the Server

If you want to test whether the server is installed and configured properly or not, open a browser and type "localhost" in the search bar of your browser, and you will be able to see the default test page of Apache.

Apache pros and cons

Apache web server is an excellent choice for running your website on a stable and flexible platform.

Pros

● Apache is free and open-source software even available for commercial use.

● It is a secure and trustworthy software.

● It gets updated consistently with regular security patches.

● Its features can be extended by adding modules due to its module-based structure.

● It can be configured easily and can be easily used by beginners.

● It's a cross-platform software that means it works on both Windows and UNIX servers.

● It works great with the WordPress site.

● It has a huge community due to its popularity, and any problem can be easily solved by anytime available support.

Sum Up

Its performance gets lowered on heavy traffic generating websites. Configuring it according to your needs can even make it less secure. While creating new protocols in Apache, you may encounter some errors, and for removing these errors, you will have to hire a debugger.


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