We are often so eager to use our new HostAfrica VPS that we jump in and use the default software that either comes with the VPS or that comes to mind. Through the years we have come to know the Apache/Httpd web server as the backbone of the internet. On Windows, it has always been IIS, but Apache also became available for Windows as an option. Due to Apache’s poor performance under certain load conditions and good marketing, NginX has come forward as a solution in high load scenarios. We thus almost never ask ourselves what ELSE is available. Well, here I will introduce you to a few worthy web servers in no particular order of preference.
This may be a lesser known http server, but it powers sites such as Youtube and Wikipedia. It was around long before NginX, but many discounted it purely due to its name. This was partly Microsoft’s fault as they called any free product with a limited feature set “light”.
Lighttpd is anything but limited. Due to continued development, it can and will match any commonly used Apache feature and it can function as a brilliant load balancer as well. It uses much less memory than Apache and is incredibly fast serving out pages under load. It is also very easy to set up.
Caddy is an open source, HTTP/2 enabled web server written in Go. One of Caddy’s most notable features is enabling HTTPS by default. Caddy is also extremely easy to configure for “non-geeks”. It has pre-compiled binaries for Linux, Mac/OS-X, Windows, Android and BSD which makes it easy to install.
Caddy is full featured and security is also good. One nice feature is that Caddy uses Let’s Encrypt as the default certificate authority for HTTPS and automatically keeps the certificates renewed.
Need a secure web server that can stop an SQL injection in its tracks? Hiawatha can do just that – and more. Hiawatha started in January 2002 as a small web server, suitable for servers with old hardware. This is a light web server with good performance and some innovative security functions. The easiest way to secure existing web servers is to use Hiawatha as an application firewall to protect them.
Hiawatha also comes with a monitoring tool, the Hiawatha Monitor, a PHP application that communicates with your web servers (it can monitor multiple servers) to collect information about bandwidth usage, number of requests, errors and attacks.
The five web servers above are all mainstream, stable and well tested. There are other servers out there but do your research properly before deciding.