To run web content, online businesses and websites require a web server. The primary function of the web server is to save, process, and transfer web content to the clients. Upon hearing the term server, one may assume that it is costly and complex. However, various free software can be utilized. One popular software is Apache, an open-source and free web server software.
What is Apache?
Apache or formally known as Apache HTTP Server is one of the most reliable web servers in the market. It was developed by the Apache Software Foundation, released in 1995 and is now utilised by approximately 40% of websites worldwide. With famous sites such as Apple.com, Rakuten.com, Adobe.com, and Etsy.com, to name a few, using Apache as their web server.
Apache as a Web Server
Apache is a software that can run on both Unix and Windows servers and is not a physical server. The main task of Apache is to establish the connection between the server and the user’s browser. It is designed based on a client-server structure, enabling the transfer of files between the browser and the server. According to https://www.hostpapa.com/linux-hosting/apache-hosting/ Apache dominates the web server category of software. It further states that its success is due to its reliability, security, flexibility, ease-of-use, platform independence, as well as broad community, and available support.
If you intend to utilize Apache, here is some essential information.
There are various methods of installing Apache. Its open-source attribute enabled multiple software vendors to produce its own Apache installer which can be downloaded in their sites. You may also build your own installer based on Apache’s source code.
It is imperative to note that Apache is a modular application that enables administrators to choose the functionality they intend to use. These functions are stored in modules and can be compiled as a dynamic shared object (DSO). The main Apache file is separate from the DSOs and can be shared between multiple applications. This makes the DSO application type recommended for the ease of managing the modules in the server.
Apache and Virtual Host (VHost)
If you have multiple websites, you can manage these sites in the same server using Apache. Hosting the domain on your web server can be attained by having a separate entry in the Apache configuration file. The type of Vhost can be Name-based or Address-based.
For a Name-based Vhost, you must set the IP address where the Apache requests will be received. This action is completed in the configuration file by using the NameVirtualHost directive. On the other hand, an IP based virtual hosting enables you to assign an IP address for every website you want to host. Therefore, the number of sites that can be virtually hosted will depend on the unique IP address configured in the server. For instance, ten unique IP addresses will enable you to host ten websites.
Securing Apache Server
Security is a vital matter in web server hosting.
- It is important to hide the Apache version and the OS information, as these can be used to launch an attack against your website.
- Apache, by default, will also show the content of your web directory. You can disable directory listing through the Options directive in the configuration file
- Use “allow” and “deny” options to restrict access to files outside the webroot directory.
- Disable unnecessary modules such as mod_info, mod_userdir, mod_autoindex, and mod_include in the configuration file
- Utilize mod-evasive to protect from DoS attacks and mod-security to monitor web traffic and detect brute force attacks. You may also limit the HTTP request size through the “LimitRequestBody” to prevent DoS attacks.
The above information is just some of the necessary details one must know to utilize Apache for web hosting. Nevertheless, Apache is relatively easy to install with various sources of its installer and even an option to create one. The use of modules also enables flexibility for administrators to select the functions they intend to use. Furthermore, Apache allows hosting of multiple sites in a single server and has various tools to ensure the server’s security.
Interesting related article: “What is a Server?“