Apache Server is a software package which provides computers with the functionality to serve web pages. It is the most popular server software on the web, with Apache powering just over half of all websites.
Apache Server is hugely popular because of the following reasons:
- It is open source software meaning it is free to use and anyone can view and contribute to it.
- Apache is one of the oldest web servers, being released in the early days of the internet. This means:
- Apache has grown an enormous community around it which can provide assistance to beginners.
- It is battle tested and stable as a rock.
- It has a lot of inertia keeping it popular.
- The three largest content management systems are designed to operate on Apache.
While old, Apache is actively developed by a large community and at time of writing is up to version 2.4.23, released July 2016.
LiteSpeed Web Server
In commercial hosting scenarios LiteSpeed Web Server is often used as a drop-in replacement for Apache Server. LiteSpeed runs about 50% faster than Apache while using the same configuration files. We use Litespeed in our own hosting offering through VentraIP. About 2.3% of all websites are powered by Litespeed server at time of writing, and is the 4th most popular web server software in the world. The only downside is that LiteSpeed is proprietary software, though a free version is available.
While Apache Server is still the juggernaut of hosting, its popularity is slowly waning as other server software rises in prominence. Apache is losing market share to Nginx which currently has about a third of market share, up from 4% in 2010. Nginx is much newer and runs about twice as fast as Apache. For web application development node.js has become a popular server solution and is also much faster than Apache. Apache had 70% market share in 2010, but now due to these upstarts, it is down to about half. Apart from the new kids on the block, Apache Server has always competed with Microsoft IIS server, which powers about 15% of websites.
Read more about Apache Server at the Wikipedia Apache Server article.