What is a Web Server : Pros and Cons to Consider for Your Business
To put it simply, a web server is a computer that stores website files and delivers them to a web user’s browser upon a request made over the World Wide Web. It consists of software and hardware that communicates with browsers (i.e. Google Chrome, Firefox) using protocols like HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).
Besides HTTP, web servers also support FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), which are used to process files for storage and email.
How Does a Web Server Work?
The software of web servers is accessed via a website’s domain name and ensures the delivery of website content to the user. It comprises multiple components, including at least an HTTP server, which can understand URLs and HTTP.
When a web browser needs a file that is hosted on a web server, it requests the file using HTTP. When the web server receives this request, it processes the request through its HTTP server which finds the content and sends it to the browser.
Here’s the step-by-step process on how a web server works:
- A user enters a URL in the address bar of the web browser.
- The browser obtains the domain name’s IP address – either by searching for it in its cache or translating the URL via DNS (Domain Name System), connecting the browser to the web server where the website files are located. 3.
- The web server receives this HTTP request (a request made by a user to access a resource on the server) and processes it with the HTTP server. 4.
- Once the HTTP server accepts the request, it searches through the server files to obtain relevant pages/data. 5.
- Lastly, the web server responds by sending the requested page (through HTTP) to the browser. Then, the user can now see the website content.
If the requested page doesn’t exist, the web server will respond to the browser with an error message.
Broadly, there are two types of web servers – dynamic and static.
Difference Between Static and Dynamic Web Servers
Static web server
It is called static as it displays the hosted content as it is. A static web server includes both a computer and HTTP software. NGINX web server is a great example of a static web server.
Dynamic web server
It is called dynamic as it uses the application server for updating hosted files before sending them to the browser of the user via HTTP. Dynamic web servers include a static server, a database, and an application server.
A dynamic website can display different content like images, HTML text and videos. Apache web server is one of the best examples of dynamic web servers.
Common Features of Web Servers
A few common yet useful features of web servers are:
Web servers require authorisation requests, wherein, a password and username are required. Many servers provide this feature before permitting access (partial or complete) to the resources of a website.
- Storage space
Storage space is the amount of disk space available for storing website files. It determines whether a server can host a website or not.
- File logging
The log files track and document the activities that web servers perform, like security, requests, and error logs. Every time a web server receives a request, the related text is added to the log.
- Bandwidth limiting
The bandwidth of a web server is the amount of data it can process or transfer at any time. And bandwidth limiting controls the speed of your responses to ensure that the network is not saturated, and files are delivered smoothly.
Server uptime tracks the time the web server is functional, can process the requests, and deliver files. The uptime of a server also affects the website’s uptime, which is the time for which a web service or website is available to the users. Therefore, choose a reputable service provider offering a guarantee of 99.99% uptime.
Why Do We Use a Web Server?
Web servers have three key uses:
- Hosting multiple websites
- Processing FTP (File Transfer Protocol) requests
- Sending and receiving emails
As web servers host websites to make them accessible on the internet, their features and functions focus on creating a proper hosting environment.
So, when you build and publish a website, you will need access to a web server. You can conveniently gain access through web hosts. These hosts provide web hosting services by providing the server space for storing assets, files, and databases.
The significant benefits of accessing a web server through a web host include:
- Secure servers
Most reputable web hosts deploy effective security measures for reducing vulnerabilities and protecting hosted websites against cyberattacks and malware.
Instead of spending extra on hosting resources, you can buy a web hosting plan that offers the adequate amount of server resources you need.
Web hosts usually offer customised and scalable hosting plans. As a website owner, you can start with the minimum resources and obtain additional hosting resources (like storage or bandwidth) as your website expands.
Moreover, there are various hosting options available for different price points and offer varying features and functionalities.
- Optimal uptime and performance
A web host ensures hardware maintenance and on-time software updates, improving website uptime and performance.
However, you’ll be able to avail all these benefits only if you buy web hosting services from reputable hosting providers like Bigrock.
Bigrock offers various features like unmetered disk space and bandwidth, 99.99% uptime with best-in-class customer support, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, you can get all of them at a reasonably affordable price. So, without any further ado, choose your web hosting provider wisely, find the right domain name, and start building your website today.