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Apache vs. Nginx: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Apache and Nginx are web servers; Apache uses a process-driven approach, while Nginx employs an event-driven architecture.

Key Differences

Apache, under the Apache Software Foundation, has been one of the most widely used web servers for decades. Nginx, on the other hand, emerged as a lightweight, high-performance alternative to Apache, particularly for handling static content and acting as a reverse proxy.
While both Apache and Nginx serve web content, their architectural designs differ significantly. Apache uses a process-driven or thread-driven model, where each client connection equates to a separate thread or process. Nginx adopts an event-driven approach, allowing it to handle many connections simultaneously without creating a new process for each.
In terms of performance, Apache can become resource-intensive when handling a high number of simultaneous connections. This is because of its process or thread for each connection model. Nginx, with its event-driven architecture, can manage high traffic with minimal memory overhead, making it particularly effective for serving static content efficiently.
Extensibility is another area where Apache and Nginx diverge. Apache boasts a modular architecture, allowing developers to add functionalities using modules. Nginx also supports modules but, traditionally, they needed to be included at compile time. Recent developments, however, have begun to offer dynamic module loading for Nginx.

Comparison Chart


Apache Software Foundation
Originally by Igor Sysoev


Process-driven or thread-driven


Can be resource-intensive
Efficient, especially with high traffic


Dynamic module loading
Traditional compile-time module inclusion (dynamic loading emerging)

Typical Use Cases

General-purpose web serving
Static content, reverse proxy, load balancing

Apache and Nginx Definitions


Military attack helicopters used by the U.S. Army.
The Apache helicopter played a crucial role in many military operations.


A tool developed originally by Igor Sysoev.
Igor Sysoev began the development of Nginx in 2002.


An open-source web server software.
Apache powers a significant portion of websites on the internet.


An open-source web server and reverse proxy server.
Many modern websites use Nginx for its performance capabilities.


A project developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation.
The Apache Software Foundation oversees many open-source projects beyond the Apache web server.


A software designed for high concurrency without high memory usage.
Nginx can handle thousands of simultaneous connections efficiently.


A term to refer to something that is first or prominent.
The Apache server is among the pioneers in web serving technologies.


A server software often used in conjunction with other servers.
Many deployments use Nginx as a reverse proxy in front of an Apache server.


A Native American people residing in the southwestern United States.
The Apache tribes have a rich history and culture.


A platform also used for mail proxy and HTTP cache.
Beyond serving web content, Nginx is versatile enough to act as a mail proxy.


A member of a Native American people inhabiting the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Various Apache tribes offered strong resistance to encroachment on their territory in the latter half of the 19th century. Present-day Apache populations are located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.


What is Apache primarily known for?

Apache is primarily known as an open-source web server software.

What is a common use case for Nginx?

Nginx is commonly used for serving static content, acting as a reverse proxy, and load balancing.

Which server is more memory-efficient, especially under heavy traffic?

Nginx is often considered more memory-efficient, especially under high traffic scenarios.

Which one, Apache or Nginx, is more popular today?

Both are popular, but recent trends show Nginx gaining more adoption, especially among top traffic sites.

How is the module support in Nginx?

Nginx supports modules, but traditionally they needed to be included at compile time, though dynamic module loading is now emerging.

Who oversees the development of Apache?

The Apache Software Foundation oversees the development of Apache.

What is Nginx's main strength compared to Apache?

Nginx's event-driven architecture allows efficient handling of high traffic with minimal memory overhead.

Are Apache and Nginx available for all major operating systems?

Yes, both Apache and Nginx are available for major operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Who originally developed Nginx?

Nginx was originally developed by Igor Sysoev.

How does Nginx manage multiple simultaneous connections?

Nginx uses an event-driven approach, allowing efficient management of many connections simultaneously.

Is Apache named after the Native American tribe?

No, the name "Apache" was chosen for the server because of its resilience, but it does coincide with the name of the Native American tribe.

How long have Apache and Nginx been in the server software industry?

Apache has been in the industry since 1995, and Nginx since 2004.

How is Apache's performance under high traffic?

Apache can become resource-intensive under high traffic due to its process-driven or thread-driven model.

Can Nginx also serve as a mail proxy?

Yes, beyond web serving, Nginx can function as a mail proxy.

Can Apache and Nginx be used together?

Yes, a common setup uses Nginx as a reverse proxy in front of an Apache server.

Are both Apache and Nginx open-source?

Yes, both Apache and Nginx are open-source software.

Does Apache have a reverse proxy capability like Nginx?

Yes, Apache can also be configured to act as a reverse proxy.

Can Nginx handle dynamic content like Apache?

Yes, while Nginx is often lauded for static content, it can also serve dynamic content, often in conjunction with other tools or servers.

How does Apache's extensibility compare to Nginx?

Apache boasts dynamic module loading, while Nginx traditionally required modules to be included at compile time, though dynamic loading is emerging.

How does Apache handle client connections?

Apache handles client connections using a process-driven or thread-driven model.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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