Web Server vs Application Server

Web Server vs Application Server

What is a Web Server?

A web server is basically a computer that hosts many websites depending on its capacity. It serves the request of the client/end-user i.e. it delivers web pages that are requested by them on the browser. The main purpose of the web server is to store, process, and deliver web resources to the users. All this is done using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests and in response to these requests from a web browser, it delivers web content to the browser. The web content is mostly static that includes- HTML Pages, Files, Images, and Videos.

When an HTTP request for a particular resource is made from the client side, the web server processes the request by searching that resource on the server and when the web page name on that address is matched with the one requested by the client, it delivers that web page to the client/end-user.

Features of Web Server

  • Web servers support many programming languages for server-side programming (which is known as backend development) such as PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, ASP, etc.
  • The web server in combination with the Application server can handle dynamic content.
  • Web servers can be used with asp, servlet, jsp, struts, jsf etc.
  • Web servers also support protocols like SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for email and for file transfer and storage.
  • We can host multiple websites on the webserver by using virtual hosting which allows us to host multiple websites on the server.
  • Web Server provides security to the web data stored in it. Only authorized users can access the files and web resources. It also provides encrypted connections to clients.
  • Web Server serves the request of end-users who are connected over the internet.
  • Web Server provides access to the web database.
  • Web Server can reduce the excess web network traffic by setting appropriate bandwidth values to control the data transmission rate over the internet. This can reduce the problems of server downtime caused by high web traffic. This feature is known as bandwidth controlling.
Web Server
Web Server

What is an Application Server?

An application server is a software framework that provides a run environment for enterprise applications. It is a type of server designed to install and operate applications, and hosting the services and applications for end-users, IT services, and organizations.

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An application server is a middleware that is positioned between the Operating System on one side, the external resources( database, communication, and web services) on the other side, and the end-user applications on the third side.

An application server is a software framework that provides application resources to end-users or clients( web applications, web browsers, and mobile apps.). The rendering of application resources to end-users or clients is achieved by client-server interaction. The client-server interaction happens via communication protocols. Client interacting with a server means interacting with the application server-side code which represents the business logic, which generates dynamic content and renders it to the end-users or clients. In other words, an application server transforms data to provide the specialized functionality offered by an application.

Features of Application Server

  • Application Server Transforms data with business logic
  • Application Server contains a web container as well as EJB( Enterprise Java Beans) container.
  • Application Server helps in deploying highly scalable, secure, and robust enterprise applications.
  • Application Server helps in managing backend logic like processing, calculations, database, etc.
  • Application Server incorporates web server capabilities.
  • Application Server offers the best protection to all applications and installation and deployment of applications is easy.
  • Application Server renders a better environment to deal with internal components, external components, and running services such as client notifications, session management, etc.
  • Application servers offer load balancing. So to manage heavy load, other servers can be deployed depending on their availability. With the best load balancing, it is possible to spread all requests on other available servers.
  • Application server helps to increase the performance of all applications. Example- By handling and managing transactions successfully for all users.
Application Server
Application Server

Web Server vs Application Server

Difference Between Web Server and Application Server

Web ServerApplication Server
It processes static content.It renders dynamic content.
It contains only a web container.It contains web as well as EJB containers.
It uses fewer resources.It uses more resources.
It provides the run atmosphere for web applications.It provides a run atmosphere for enterprise applications.
It supports multithreading.It doesn’t support multithreading.
It has a lower capacity as compared to an application server.It has a higher capacity as compared to the webserver.
It supports HTML and HTTP protocols.It supports GUI, HTTP, and RPC/RMI protocols.
Application Connection- NoApplication Connection- Yes
It supports processes that do not resource-intensive.It supports processes that are resource-intensive.
Client- Web BrowsersClient- Web Applications, Mobile Applications, Web Browsers
It doesn’t support transactions and connection pooling.It supports transactions and connection pooling.
Fault Tolerance capacity is low as compared to application servers.The application server has increased fault tolerance.
Performance boosting is low.Performance boosting is high.
Provides content in the form of an HTML Page.Provides transformed content with business logic.
It is LighterIt is Heavier
Examples- Nginx, Apache HTTP ServerExamples- JBoss, Glassfish


Application Servers can render web content by incorporating web server capabilities so that web applications can also leverage services like load balancing, clustering, etc.

A combination of a web server and an application server is referred to as a web application server. Today, the most popular servers are hybrids of web servers and application servers. The applications are rich in quality with a combination of static and dynamic content.

However, all hybrid servers are not equally good. But if you know the differences between the two server types, you can easily choose which one is better for your use and make it scalable and save money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1: What are application server examples?

Ans: Apache Tomcat and Glassfish

Q.2: What are web server examples?

Ans: Nginx and Apache HTTP Server

Q.3: How do I start a web server?

Ans: You can start a web server using different programming languages like PHP, Python, and NodeJS. Just type the following commands in the command prompt or terminal

  • php -S
  • python -m http.server 8080
  • npm install http-server -g

Q.4: Why do we need an application server?

Ans: To run highly scalable, secure, and robust enterprise applications, we need an application server that provides a suitable environment to run enterprise applications. Application servers also provide the best processing power, high performance, and data protection.

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