W3Techs announced that after many years of steady growth in market share, Nginx is now the most popular web server in the world, edging out Apache HTTP Server.
Back in 2009, Nginx had a market share of 3.7%, Apache had over 73%, and Microsoft-IIS had around 20%, but the web server field today has changed significantly.
According to Netcraft’s statistics, Nginx is now leading with just over one-third of the market, at 33.8%. Apache is head-to-head at the moment but declining. The gap between Apache and Nginx was still 6.6% one year ago.
In addition, according to the W3Techs’ statistics, the top 3 web servers are Nginx (34.1%), Apache (33.2%), and Cloudflare Server (18.7%). The Cloudflare Server at rank 3 is particularly interesting in that context, as it is derived from Nginx.
Nginx has dominated the high-traffic part of the market for a long time. It became the most used web server among the top 1000 sites in 2013, which hasn’t changed since then. It is now used by 47.1% of the top 1000 sites and 44.6% of the top 10k sites, clearly ahead of the competition.
It is gaining market share at the moment, mainly from Apache and Microsoft-IIS, but at the same time, it is losing sites to Cloudflare Server and LiteSpeed Web Server.
Congratulations to Nginx for reaching this milestone. With so many websites and companies relying on Nginx performance and stability, it has become a significant part of the internet infrastructure.
The History of Nginx
Initially developed in Russia, the original motivation for creating Nginx wasn’t nearly so grand. In 2001, Nginx’s original creator Igor Sysoev was trying to solve a problem at work. His web servers were having trouble keeping up with ever‑increasing numbers of requests.
The challenge was referred to at the time as the C10K problem – handling 10,000 simultaneous client connections to clients.
Inspired by the design of Unix and other classic distributed systems, Igor developed an event‑driven architecture that is so lightweight, scalable, and powerful that it is still at the heart of Nginx today.
Nginx is built to offer low memory usage and high concurrency. Rather than creating new processes for each web request, it uses an asynchronous, event-driven approach where requests are handled in a single thread.
Though Nginx became famous as the fastest web server, the scalable underlying architecture has proved ideal for many web tasks beyond serving content.
Because it can handle a high volume of connections, Nginx is commonly used as a reverse proxy and load balancer to manage incoming traffic and distribute it to slower upstream servers – anything from legacy database servers to microservices.
Related: How to Install and Configure Nginx Web Server
Furthermore, NGINX is frequently placed between clients and a second web server to serve as an SSL/TLS terminator or web accelerator.
Dynamic sites, built using anything from Node.js to PHP, commonly deploy Nginx as a content cache and reverse proxy to reduce the load on application servers and make the most effective use of the underlying hardware.
One popular combination, for example, is to use it to route requests to FastCGI servers which run applications built with various frameworks and programming languages such as PHP. Here, you can learn how to configure Nginx to work with PHP via PHP-FPM.