A web server is the service application that is called upon to serve web pages to client computers that request them from a server. Typically a web server will run on server port 80, as this is the default port used by the HTTP protocol (hypertext transfer protocol). Web servers are available for Linux servers and Windows servers and most have been designed for general use meaning that they can be used for the serving of a wide variety of file types. Web servers are the main part of any web hosting package because they are what will serve the web pages and any other files that may be request over HTTP; without a web server, a web hosting package is essentially unusable.
When using a Linux server your first choice of web server will more than likely be Apache as this is an open source application that can be installed on any Linux server within the matter of a minute. If you are going to be using Windows server hosting then you may prefer to use IIS as this is an integral part of the Windows operating system meaning that it will provide you with a more flexible level of usability, or on the other hand you could always use Apache although the support offered would only be limited. Your choice of web server is something that you should take seriously as different web servers will be able to offer support for different things whilst your choice of platform will of course affect the web server that you choose.
Apache is the world’s most popular web server and has been established for a long time; this has allowed the developers to create a highly secure application that is capable of handling high loads. As Apache is an open source application, the core of it can be modified to suit your requirements on either Windows or Linux; this is ideal for larger businesses that may wish to factor in their own code to help Apache perform better or simply for those who wish to optimize Apache to use less system resources. The fact that Apache can be used on Windows or Linux servers allows developers to create their web applications around the same common base, regardless of the web hosting platform that they finally decide to use for the hosting of any web applications that they choose to develop further.
IIS is Microsoft’s flagship web server meaning that it is an application that will only work with the Windows operating system, as is evident with the fact that it is only available as an optional Windows feature. IIS should only really be considered when looking for a web server capable of support classic ASP or ASP.NET web pages as it is the only web server that will be able to process and serve such web paged and scripts. However, IIS will also support a wide variety of other web scripting languages such as PHP and Perl – other components critical to the running of dynamic websites such as database servers will run fine on Windows servers.
Your choice of web server is something that could affect the security of your server as if you are using a web server application that hasn’t been secured properly then you are leaving your server prone to web based attacks such as script injections and DDOS attacks on the web server port. However, the level to which your web pages and scripts have been coded will also affect how secure your web server is since if you have used poor coding then it will be fairly easy for hackers to compromise these scripts and in turn do damage to your web hosting server.
In conclusion, web server software is the application used to serve web pages to client machines when requested. In order to be able to host a website on a server you will need to have a web server application installed and running on port 80 so that a when a web browser requests a specific file from your server via HTTP, your server is then able to deliver that file to the client computer. Your choice of web server is likely to be dependent on the scripting languages that you are using for your website as well as the operating system platform.