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Overview of the Apache Web Server

written by: Bruno Kos•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/16/2010

This guide gives a brief introduction to the Apache web server and how it compares with Microsoft's IIS.

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    If you are looking to start hosting websites from home, then you are going to need a web server. There are many different types of web apache servers available, the most widely used is the Apache web server followed by Microsoft's Internet Information Systems (IIS) and the Sun Java Web Server. Over fifty percent of the world's websites are run on Apache web servers. The number of people using Apache grows every day. Apache is an open source software that runs on most operating systems, including Windows. Apache also supports multiple languages like PHP, CGI, Perl and Python. It is maintained by a community of developers called the Apache Software Foundation.

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    What is Apache and how do I get it?

    CD-ROM stock What is Apache? Well, really it is just software. Some people still think of a server as a giant machine with eighty fans and terabytes upon terabytes of drive space. Those types of machines do exist but they are not needed for most web serving applications. You can download Apache on its own or in a software bundle like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and a programming script). To pick up the latest version of Apache, check out If you are more interested in a package, then chances are you can find a software package that directly suits your needs. In this instance, Google will be your friend. One of the benefits of using an open source software is that there are a huge amount of developers working on a popular program like Apache. New and unique software packages are constantly being released.

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    Apache Web Server Versus IIS

    It is no wonder that Apache and IIS are always being compared. They are both robust programs which are simple to use. Both programs also have a similar history, although some would say that Apache's beginnings are more important since it is based on HTTPd, arguably the first steps in the creation of the internet.

    Since IIS is a Microsoft product and was only made to work in a Windows environment, there are lots of Windows based tools that can be used for administration of different server functions. This is a big draw for corporate clientele. Big businesses have also been very hesitant to use any open source software, making IIS the clear choice for them.

    One of Apache's biggest highlights is its ability to run on almost every major operating system out there. This is a huge deal for Unix and Linux enthusiasts. In fact the Apache core will run on almost any platform that can run a C compiler. Apache is touted to be more secure, more stable and run faster then IIS, but Apache is missing one major component that IIS has. Apache cannot run a full .NET environment although it can run and C# with the help of some add-ons. Despite this one drawback, Apache is still leading the way in web server technology because of its stability, advanced security, and ease of use.