What is Nginx – Beginner’s Guide

NGINX

Nginx is a web server and more; it has various uses in addition to its primary purpose, all of which are related to improving the performance of sites that require high performance and resource demand. We will explore all that Nginx can do, how it works, and in what situations it can be used to improve the response of your website, including how to combine it with other web servers if necessary.

 

What is Nginx?

As we have said before, Nginx¬†is a web server; it is pronounced “engine-ex” and is an open-source software, so it can be installed on any server without having to pay any license.

There is a paid option called Nginx Plus, but the free version is the most widely used.

We have also commented that it is a web server, “…and more” and that is that Nginx has other functions for use. These are the most common: web server, reverse proxy for HTTP and HTTPS, and load balancer between servers.

One of the most important qualities of Nginx as a web server is that it is capable of supporting multiple simultaneous connections, something that other web servers cannot support.

When there is a lot of traffic on a website and many concurrent connections, Nginx can serve them much more easily than other web servers, which are unable to do so when concurrent connections reach a certain limit.

Nginx is capable of working with more than 10 thousand concurrent connections, so websites that have this demand use Nginx as a server.

Companies such as Apple, Netflix, and Cloudflare make use of Nginx in some of their sections, as they are sites that have to manage many requests at the same time and Nginx works very well in situations of high demand and availability.

Nginx’s RAM memory consumption is really low, which is another point in favor of Nginx, since current websites, with all the dynamism that users like so much, are true RAM gobblers.

This is achieved by working asynchronously, rather than synchronously. If a server works synchronously, it can only handle one request at a time; that is, each time the web browser makes a request, the server receives it and processes it to respond, and when it finishes with one request, it continues with another and so on.

By working asynchronously, Nginx can service multiple requests at the same time, greatly improving concurrent requests from multiple tasks. From a master process, it can manage different work processes or threads and serve the same information to the threads that are requesting the same thing, speeding up the process and being able to manage thousands of requests without reducing the performance of the server due to request saturation.

This also helps you to quickly manage the static content of a website, such as images, videos, HTML, CSS, etc., something that can be used as a reverse proxy.

Load balancing is another of Nginx’s qualities, since it can be configured to distribute requests among different servers that share the same information, so if one server is very saturated, it can send the request to another that has more available resources.

Nginx can also be used as a proxy for IMAP and POP as well as SMTP and can work with IP versions: IPv4 and IPv6.

 

Is Nginx or Apache better?

There is a debate about whether it is better to use Nginx or Apache as a web server. Apache is an old acquaintance in web servers, being powerful, reliable, and having many years and a large user community behind it.

It is also the most compatible web server available. Until recently, Apache had the highest market share, with developers and users preferring to rely on its experience over other types of web servers.

According to W3techs‘ statistics, Nginx currently slightly surpasses Apache in terms of usage, making it the most used web server at the moment.

Its great performance and its open-source character have convinced many users to install it on their servers, which is why it is so popular.

On the other hand, can you imagine configuring a hosting without an .htaccess file? Nginx does not have an .htaccess file, nor any other additional configuration file, making it more complex to configure a web application such as WordPress, which makes intensive use of .htaccess.

However, this does not mean it cannot be configured; the configuration changes are made from the server’s configuration files. This is one of the reasons why Nginx is so good at times of high performance, as it does not accept external configuration files.

Apache with Nginx as Reverse Proxy

Nginx has been shown to be an effective web server for high requests and static web content, but it is not as user friendly as Apache because it does not support configuration files such as htaccess.

To take advantage of both, many people choose to use Apache and Nginx together. Apache is used as the web server and Nginx’s reverse proxy feature is used to serve the static web content, which speeds up the content delivery process.

A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary between the browser or application request and the server, using the cache to serve the non-dynamic content, freeing the web server from that action and allowing it to deliver the content faster.

Apache is still used to configure the application installed on the server, such as WordPress, and the .htaccess file is still used. This combination is popular and can greatly improve the performance of the sites, but it requires extensive knowledge to configure it correctly.

If your website has high demand for processes and requires high performance, Nginx is a great option to consider. It is unmatched in its ability to manage multiple simultaneous connections and its RAM memory consumption is very low, resulting in a lower investment in server resources. However, if you need more compatibility or need to use the htaccess file configuration, you can use a combination of Apache and Nginx with its reverse proxy feature to take advantage of its ability to handle multiple concurrent connections and static content delivery.

Read more: Best web hosting 2023

Conclusion

If your website has high demand for processes and requires high performance, Nginx is a great option to consider. It is unmatched in its ability to manage multiple simultaneous connections and its RAM memory consumption is very low, resulting in a lower investment in server resources.

However, if you need more compatibility or need to use the .htaccess file configuration, you can use a combination of Apache and Nginx with its reverse proxy feature to take advantage of its ability to handle multiple concurrent connections and static content delivery.

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