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Choosing a Web Server for a WordPress Installation

written by: Bruno Kos•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/21/2010

Did you know that there are other web servers available (besides Apache) that work with WordPress CMS platform? You didn't? Read on and find out more about the alternatives.

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    Introduction

    The majority of WordPress installation tutorials recommend the download of XAMPP, which is a fantastic all-in-one solution for Apache Web server, MySQL database and PHP installation. Before XAMPP was released, it was not always easy to install these components (many senior developers are familiar with this fact). Furthermore, although Apache server is installed by most hosting companies, there are some other high-quality Web servers available that are rarely used. Why not try some other WordPress web servers besides the “traditional” Apache? This article will give an overview of some other great servers that are unjustly neglected by the wider development community.

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    Apache

    As mentioned in the introduction, Apache is basically a standard server coming with most Linux distributions. As such, it is frequently used both by hosting companies and by individuals who install it on their own computers for development purposes. It is not surprising therefore that the WordPress platform is perfectly optimized for the Apache server.

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    Internet Information Services

    Internet Information Services (hereafter IIS) is a server solution created by Microsoft for the Windows operating system. Although IIS can work with PHP and WordPress, it has rarely been used and has not been considered an optimal solution, mostly due to its lack of mod-rewrite, although some tricks and commercial solutions concerning this limitation have been developed. The new version of IIS, however, (bundled with Windows 7 OS) offers URLRewrite, which is a URL rewrite module compatible with WordPress. Therefore, the WordPress community may well adopt IIS in higher volume in the coming years.

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    Nginx

    The Nginx development team is very active, releasing new versions and updates regularly. Unfortunately, they are not as active with their documentation, as their official site contains very little information about Nginx usage. However, Nginx is a lightweight and very fast Web server, containing an important rewrite module and supporting virtual hosts as well as a number of other functions. Its quality is proven by the fact that it is part of the WordPress.com Web server system. Furthermore, there are numerous excellent FastCGI libraries available. In order to use Nginx with the WordPress system, a FastCGI handler should be installed.

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    Litespeed

    Although Litespeed is a commercial Web server, there is a free version available which supports the WordPress platform. The quality of this Web server is assured by the fact that it is used by the WordPress.com website. It can be used instead of the Apache Web server, as it also offers important htaccess and mod_rewrite rules.

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    Lighttpd

    Lighttpd Web server is frequently used by websites and web applications that require a high-performance Web server. Its quality is proven in high-traffic websites, such as YouTube and Wikipedia, while it has also been used for the WordPress.com website. Lighttpd is an open source software, available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows platforms. There are some configuration deficiencies concerning the mod_rewrite module, but these can be eliminated by editing the Lighttpd configuration file.

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    Conclusion

    The selection of a WordPress web server might not always depend on the developer's desires, as the client's requirements might prevent the use of open source solutions. If this is not the case, we recommend Apache solution as the choice for a WordPress web server, especially for developers not familiar with Web server configurations.