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What is a web server?

A web server is a computer system that stores, processes and delivers web content such as web pages, applications, images and videos across the internet.

Web servers consist of both hardware and software components. Hardware includes a powerful processor, sufficient RAM memory, a high-capacity storage drive and network interface cards (NICs) to connect to the internet. The software side consists of different protocols, such as HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. Web servers can also use scripting languages like PHP, Ruby and Python to generate dynamic web content based on user requests.

Web servers are typically hosted on powerful computers running specialized web server software. They're responsible for processing and generating web content, such as HTML documents or images. Additionally, web servers may provide web-related services such as web hosting, email services, and web application development platforms. Overall, a web server is an important part of the global web infrastructure that enables users to access online content.

How do web servers work?

Servers allow an exchange of information that follows the client-server model. When a user types in a web address, their browser sends a request to the server. Once the server receives the request, they’ll process it by retrieving the files from its storage device. From there, it sends the files back to the browser, which displays the content to the user.

Web servers use application programming interfaces (APIs) to respond to requests from browsers—this is how all website and online content gets delivered. The web server processes incoming requests and responds with the requested web page’s content, or an error message in the case that there’s a server problem.

History of web servers

Servers have been around since the early days of the web. The first web server was created in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist and engineer. Berners-Lee implemented the first web browser and server, which enabled content and web pages to be shared between different computers.

Why do we use web servers?

We use web servers for a variety of reasons. First, because they enable web pages to be delivered to online users allowing access to web content from anywhere in the world. Additionally, web servers can provide hosting services, email services, web application development platforms and other web-related services. In a nutshell, servers are what make the internet work and are an integral part of its infrastructure.

Most commonly used web servers

One of the most widely used web servers today is Apache, which is an open-source server developed by the Apache Software Foundation. Apache is used to serve pages and applications over the internet, and is compatible with multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and OpenVMS. These powerful web servers are capable of handling thousands of web requests simultaneously, making them ideal for large-scale applications.

Google web server is another example, which utilizes the technology’s web-application programming interface (API) to process web requests and generate content. From delivering HTML documents to PDF images, Google’s server is compatible with multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.


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Cloud web servers

Cloud servers are web servers that run on computing networks, rather than on physical servers. These have several advantages over physical web servers, including scalability, flexibility, cost savings and better performance.

With cloud servers, administrators can quickly scale web applications to meet the demands of online traffic. The distribution nature of cloud computing networks makes it more secure, too—they’re harder to attack at once, and if one is attacked, another server is ready to replace it. Additionally, money can be saved on hardware costs, since cloud servers are run entirely on the cloud.

Tip: When making a site with Wix, you can depend on its network of cloud based servers for high uptime and site reliability.

Web servers and site security

Web servers are vulnerable to a variety of security threats. Some of the main ones include online attacks, application attacks, site authentication vulnerabilities and resource abuse. To protect servers from security threats, their administrators should always employ web application firewalls (WAFs) vulnerability scanners (WVSC):

A web application firewall acts as a shield between servers and clients, analyzing online traffic for malicious requests that contain suspicious code. This destructive code is blocked from being delivered to browsers where they can potentially damage or access a site’s valuable credentials.

Web vulnerability scanners scan applications for security threats and misconfigurations that run the risk of being exploited by attackers who want access to server’s content. These gaps in the shield security shield can then be addressed before cyber attacks happen.

Web servers and reliable hosting

Web servers are an essential part of online infrastructure, providing reliable web hosting to users. Reliable web hosting makes sure a site is always live, regardless of traffic surges, server outages or security breaches. On top of this, the more reliable your server, the safer and secure hosting is.

Web servers and site performance

When it comes to website performance, servers play a critical role in delivering a satisfactory user experience. The faster servers process requests and deliver content, the more satisfied site users are. Delays can cause frustrations, increase website bounce rates and impact the ability of a site and business to attract and convert users.

Making a website with Wix involves free web hosting, ensuring your site is always live, safe and accessible for visitors.


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