19 Oct

Introduction to Web Server Software – 2020 Update

web server has many purposes – can be used to host a websiteruns enterprise applications, can act as a data storage or even as a game server. In other words, web servers are computers that help with online content accessibility through the Web. 

A web server can be referred to as both hardware and software. 

  • Hardware (computer) – it is used to host web applications and 
  • Software (computer application) – used to deliver the requested online content to the end-user 

 

OVERVIEW OF FIVE MOST POPULAR WEB SERVER SOFTWARE

 

Choosing a web server software is not an easy task, considering the compatibility factor between software and hardware (physical/virtual server)When considering the budget and individual needs of the application server, buyersoftentimes face challenges in the selection of suitable web server software to run on their websites and applications.  

Ultimately, users need to be familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of the top web server and perform testing to identify the most efficient and best-performing web server for their needs.   

How can you choose the perfect web server to operate your website? Which factors should you consider?  

To help answer these questions, let’s see a quick overview of the utilization of these major web servers in 2020: 

NGINX, Apache, Microsoft IIS, LiteSpeed, and LightTPD are the top five major web servers today

According to Netcraft, a site that monitors web server activity worldwide, in October of 2014 over 128 million websites were using NGINX. 

In a recent survey from September of 2020 when looking at the market share of all sites: 

  • The number of NGINX web servers increased to over 407 million giving it a 34.03market share 
  • Apache comes in second with over 330 million websites or 27.64of all sites 
  • Microsoft IIS comes in third with almost 96 million websites or 8.02% of all sites 

 

NGINX popularity has tripled over the past six years!! 

Web Server Popularity
Source: Netcraft, September 2020

 Let’s dive deeper into these popular web servers including the advantages and disadvantages of each.  

 NGINX WEB SERVER OVERVIEW  

Pronounced Engine X, NGINX it’s a high-performance, open-source HTTP Web serverreverse proxy, and IMAP/POP3 proxy server.  

Initially released over 16 years ago in October of 2004 by Igor Sysoev, a Russian software engineer, NGINX has become in 2020 the number one HTTP server on the Internet. Over the years NGINX’s increased popularity led Sysoev to create NGINX Inc, becoming thus its CTO and Co-founder. 

But why is NGINX so popular?  

NGINX has tripled in popularity over the past six years primarily due to its light-weight resource utilization and ability to easily scale 

In terms of organic searches, Google Trends seems to support the Netcraft’s results of increased NGINX popularity:  

NGINX Web Server
Source: Google Trends October 01, 2020: NGINX vs Apache vs IIS

Advantages of NGINX Web Server 

  • High Performance, speed, and excellent reverse-proxy server with caching 
  • Much more efficient than Apache when handling concurrent connections 
  • Event-based server – can handle multiple requests with one thread resulting in minimal memory usage 
  • At least two times faster than Apache when serving static content  
  • Highly scalable web server with increased security  
  • Highly recommended for websites running on a VPS 
  • Well supported on Linux, UNIX, Windows and MacOS and Windows Server 2003 

NGINX Disadvantages  

  • It requires external components in order to process dynamic content 
  • Doesn’t allow additional configuration via .htaccess files 

 At SoftSys Hosting we support NGINX with our Plesk and cPanel Control Panels. For more information on NGINX hosting, please contact [email protected]  

 

 APACHE WEB SERVER OVERVIEW 

 The most popular HTTP Server on the Internet, Apache HTTP is an open-source web server, initially released on April 1995 with the goal of providing an efficient and secure HTTP server for all the modern operating systems. 

Rob McCool is credited with the creation of the original NCSA HTTPd web server, later known as the Apache HTTP ServerAs of 1999, the web server has been overseen and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation 

According to the Apache Software Foundation in 2009 Apache HTTP was THE FIRST SOFTWARE to be used by over 100 million websites! That’s quite the milestone!  

Since it is open sourceit’s available free of charge with no licensing fees. For more information please see the official website httpd.apache.org 

 Advantages of Apache HTTP Web Server 

  • Feature-full and stable 
  • Fully customizable through dynamic modules 
  • .htaccess files allow additional directory-level configurations 
  • Can easily process dynamic content without the need for external components 
  • Highly secure (compared to Windows-based servers)
  • Strong support from the user community – extensive library of documentation available 
  • Well maintained with frequent feature updates and security improvements  
  • Operates on Linux, UNIX, Windows, MacOS, and others 

  Apache HTTP Disadvantages 

  • Process-based server – each new connection requires a new thread, incurring enormous overhead 
  • Complex configuration file with a steep learning curve, designed more for advanced sys admins 

 SoftSys Hosting provides both self-managed and fully managed servers with Apache HTTP web server.  

Managed Linux Server

 

MICROSOFT IIS WEB SERVER OVERVIEW 

Microsoft IIS is one of the most popular web server applications around the world, being third in line after NIGNIX and ApacheIIS (Internet Information Server) is very advanced web server created by Microsoft to work with Windows environments 

Operating System packages include the IIS just like IIS10 with Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 2016. It is bundled free of charge within the Windows OS. 

Over the years Microsoft has made several updates to IIS particularly in the field of security, where we can see considerable improvements since IIS6 and the days of Red Code Worm 

 Advantages of Microsoft IIS Web Server 

  • Created and supported by Microsoft to work within Windows environments 
  • Complete access to .NET framework & various ASPX scripts 
  • Supports PHP in most recent Windows releases 
  • Integrates with Active Directory to provide single sign-on 
  • Installation made easy with GUI interface 
  • Easy to configure and maintain, even by beginner users 
  • Compatible with other Microsoft services 
  • IIS Performance Monitoring tools are good 
  • Logs are automatically generated in IIS –making troubleshooting issues a lot easier 
  • Microsoft IIS Tech Support team is excellent with accurate response capability. 
  • Includes good crash protection system 

  Disadvantages of Microsoft IIS 

  • Not a fully customizable web server 
  • Less stability than other open source web servers 
  • More expensive than other open source web servers 
  • Comparatively less secure 
  • The logging of errors is oftentimes vague, making debugging more difficult  

Web Servers Used By Popular Websites in 2020

Popular Web Servers
Source: W3Techs.com / Wappalyzer.com

Even though today Microsoft IIS is a lot more secure, in this age of increased cyber-attacks, it is, in general, recommended to have cyber security solution in place. At SoftSys Hosting we offer multiple security solutions for Windows servers including RDPGuard and Malware Endpoint Protection. 

 For more information and assistance with security solutions, contact [email protected]  

 

LITESPEED WEB SERVER OVERVIEW 

 LiteSpeed is a high-performance and high-availability web servers provided by LiteSpeed TechnologiesLiteSpeed provides superior performance on WordPress websites due to its built-in cache.  

 Advantages of LiteSpeed Web Server 

  • Lightweight web server 
  • Fastest among the other web servers being 2-5 times faster than Apache or NGINX 
  • Event-driven architecture 
  • Apache drop-in replacement – supports .htaccess files, reads Apache config files 
  • Zero-downtime maintenance 
  • Fastest PHP available  
  • Great for high traffic websites and servers  
  • Increasingly popular with WordPress, Magento and other CMS software 
  • Integrates with all major Control Panels 
  • Well supported on FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X 

  Disadvantages of LiteSpeed 

  • Unlike Apache, LiteSpeed is not entirely free. OpenLiteSpeed, the open-source version has limited features  

At SoftSys Hosting we include LiteSpeed free of charge with our Managed WordPress Hosting plans. For more information or assistance, contact sale[email protected]  

 

LIGHTTPD WEB SERVER OVERVIEW

 

LightTPD (pronounced “lighty) is a lightweight, open-source web server optimized for high-performance websites. It is distributed with the FreeBSD OS.  

Advantages of LightTPD Web Server 

  • Event-driven architecture 
  • Deployed with high traffic websites (such as WhatsApp)  
  • Great for running Ajax Web applications  
  • Low memory footprint, minimal resources required to run 
  • Supports FastCGI, CGI, Output-Compression, Auth and URL-Rewriting 
  • Support well on Unix, Linux, Microsoft Windows OS 

 Disadvantages of LightTPD 

  • Small user community 
  • Less support compared to Apache, NGINX, and others 
  • Some configuration compatibility issues with Apache 
  • Does not support multi-tier architecture  

 If you are looking for an advanced and full-featured web hosting service with all the latest versions of essential server software installed, consider SoftSys Hosting. 

Regardless if you choose our standard unmanaged windows VPS or more sophisticated, fail-over ready replicated windows cloud VPS, you are provided with full root-level access and will be able to install any software and applications you require. 

Our managed Windows VPS servers include advanced proactive monitoring, fully-managed backups, and unlimited system and server administration support from experienced sys admins available 24/7.

 

Managed Windows VPS

LIMITED TIME OFFER 

Get a fully managed Windows VPS or Linux VPS with a 50% discount during your first three months of service.  To take advantage of this offer use code 50OFF_3Mon

NOTES 

  • Offer valid for new accounts only 
  • Discount is applied to the first three (3) months of service 
  • Order must be monthly based 
  • Discount can only be applied when placing the order 
  • Discount will not be applied retroactively  

For questions and assistance contact [email protected]  

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for accuracy in October 2020.

15 Oct

How to protect Windows IIS server from SSLv3 POODLE bug

As a quick fix to protect your Windows server machines from the latest SSLv3 POODLE bug, please follow below steps on your Windows Server machine – these steps essentially disable the vulnerable SSLv3 protocol:

1) Open registry editor and navigate to

HKey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\ SCHANNEL\Protocols

2) You will likely see an entry with SSL 2.0 key already created. You will need to create another key named SSL 3.0 alongside it. Thereafter create a sub-key named Server inside SSL 3.0 and inside it create a DWORD named Enabled and set its value to 0.

Your screen should look like below:

windows-poodle-fix

3) Create similar entry (Server -> Enabled -> 0) for SSL 2.0 as well.

Below are quick commands to perform above steps:

rem -- SSLv2
reg add "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0\Server" /v Enabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000000
rem -- SSLv3
reg add "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0\Server" /v Enabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000000

4) Reboot the server to apply new settings.

14 Oct

Web Hosting Factors That Affect SEO Rankings

SEO is a continuous process to be incorporated in your promotional activities to succeed online. Creating and making website online is like ‘Wow, I got a website and now I will start getting orders’. Sure, you are on right path for online success but there is an unanswered critical question – is it just a website or a SEO friendly website? There is a major difference between ‘a website’ and ‘SEO Friendly website’. Your website must be highly optimized with various On-Page factors and several web hosting factors. Search Engine displays list of websites with “nice look and feel” design and relevant information that the end user is asking for. Apart from improper on-page factors, web hosting issues can affect the search engine rankings too. As we all know, your website will have higher chances to receive traffic / clicks if it has higher keyword ranking in search engines.

So, let’s have a look on various factors of web hosting affecting SEO of your website.

1)      Wrong TLD

Normally, internet users search on search engines for their requirements or just enter brand name with .com web address (if they are aware of it). Other local country TLD are same as .com in their territory. As far as .com address is concerned, most of the easily remembered names (or two words until and unless it’s unique) are taken, which leads to the fact that website owners have to search something else for their domain name or consider another website extension.

For a remedy, another web extension .co was considered for TLD but it does not work well. Many website owners suffered badly after making it their primary web extension. When any user opens a domain name with .com extension and not .co extension (primary web domain), they were taken to some other parked domains or any other website. This can just harm the reputation of the firm and potentially lose a customer.

Using local TLD domains for businesses from all around the world will again harm your online marketing strategy as search engines will consider your target market is just local country.

2)      Shared hosting

Malware Infection is dangerous for any website as it can harm your website as per its characteristic. Many businesses are hugely dependent on internet and in that case if website is not live, it can affect the revenue number plus reputation. In shared hosting, your website is shared with other websites in a web server and any of the website might get infected with any small or large malware, which can affect others too.

Web Hosting companies’ keeps their servers, totally safe and secured from various malwares but even giving their best, it is not possible to avoid such incidents. Even if one of the client website might get infected by unwanted malwares, it may spread rapidly among others since they are sharing same resources in a web server. In this case, website might stop showing online or may be with warning to visitor computer like “This computer is infected with malware” in search engines results. This way, your website reputation may blow off along with the negative search engine ranking. In any way, Google or other search engines may penalize your website by removing from their database and remove the keyword ranking to protect their visitors.

3)      Database connection failures

Are you familiar with messages like “Internal server error” or “Database connection failed”? Of course, this happens on internet often when there is some database connection failure due to huge request of the same webpage from database at peak time or simply there is no database connection established.

This situation is truly irritating for any visitor and it might happen that they will either not visit your website again and / or they will not recommend to others – they may give negative reviews to their friends/relative/business partners. In summary, you are losing visitors to the website and meanwhile when this website is unavailable, it is noticed by search engines and your keyword ranking is also affected for showing error messages instead of website.

4)      Downtime

Your website should be accessible to any user around the world on 24/7 basis – 365 days a year. If your website is not up or in case there is any maintenance scheduled on the server, you should notify your website visitors by placing a webpage clarifying the same with specified time duration. Same thing applies for search engines, there is possibility of web crawlers visiting your website anytime for any latest update (if any) on the website.

During this time if visitor/ search engines detects non-availability of your website, it will imply on web performance, reputation and keyword ranking. If visitor sees no website, they will go away and search something else and from point of view of search engines, they will see no-website-seen which may penalize the website by negative keyword rank or de-indexing the website (if takes few days). Interestingly, when your website is up again after downtime, you think keyword ranking will be back again automatically? The answer is No! – Your website was punished and ranked below the competitors on the basis of several factors like relevancy, trust, etc.

Mostly web hosting companies guarantees for best uptime out of 100% and they give their best to keep this number by keeping their software’s up-to-date and highly secured from various threats along with enterprise class server/hosting environment setup.

5)      Slow site speed

Slow site speed is one of the factor used by Search Engines to determine keyword ranking.

The loading time of website depends on the webpage size, usage of large sized images, unwanted JavaScripts, third party tools, social media widgets, geographic location, server side resources etc. If your server is stormed with too many webpage request, web server will show error and ask to try again. While in shared hosting, there are limited CPU resources, this can stop process of certain requests and it leads visitors to leave the website and search something else. You can consider using CDN service for fetching static content like Javascript, images, css, etc as it will help immensely in speeding up your website.

6)      Server Location

Server location is important to avoid web latency factor. Website loading time is crucial factor in determining ranking and if a visitor from US opens a website hosted in US location, it will open quickly than from a website hosted in Singapore or Australia!

Also Search Engines use to give preference to the visitors search phrases from the same country where server is located.

7)      IP Address

If your website is hosted with shared hosting server, all the website hosted will be using same IP address. Search Engines use to lookout for the IP address while determining Keyword ranking. If the same IP address is used for any suspicious work or over-promotional work or spamming, there is a possibility that your website may be treated for same and get penalized.

8)      Compatibility for programming language used

Working in Restriction is not going to be fruitful. Whichever web hosting service you prefer, depending on the operating system, the right programming language need to be selected. This will help in incorporating best features in your website. Going for web hosting service which does not support your programming language will cost you to hire a resource or make you learn itself. Time and money will be wasted so make sure the programming language is compatible.

9)       No proper setup of 301 redirection (when moving site from old location to new location)

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, passing certain link juice to the new redirected page. 301 response code instructs the browsers and search engine bots that this webpage has been moved permanently to another location.

Implementing 301 redirection will pass all the ranking power from old location to new locations to avoid any negative keyword ranking. Old webpage is ranked for certain keywords in search engines and if in case you are willing to redesign website with same domain name, it will lots of time to work from scratch and gain the positions on search engines. Using 301 redirect techniques will save your time and money.

Improper setup of 301 redirection can make your website promotional work start from zero and any link juice earn with old webpage will be gone.

 

I hope the above information helps you in improving your website rankings and overcoming the short falls. If you are looking for SEO friendly host with reliable and fast hosting services, you can consider  Softsys Hosting. Our cloud VPS hosting plans provide 100% uptime with unique auto failover features and Softsys Dedicated Servers will provide you with exceptional performance + security with dedicated resources.