UPDATED
Apr 4, 2024

Microsoft IIS vs NGINX

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Microsoft IIS

15.3K
7.6K
+ 1
236
NGINX

112.6K
60.4K
+ 1
5.5K

Apache HTTP Server vs Microsoft IIS vs nginx: What are the differences?

Apache HTTP Server, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), and nginx are prominent web servers. Let's explore the key differences between them.

  1. Request Processing Models: Apache HTTP Server follows a process-based model where each request spawns a new process or thread. This can lead to resource consumption and scalability issues under high loads. In contrast, Microsoft IIS and nginx follow an event-based model, where a limited number of threads handle multiple requests asynchronously. This allows them to handle a larger number of concurrent connections efficiently.

  2. Operating System Compatibility: Apache HTTP Server is compatible with various operating systems like Unix, Linux, Windows, and macOS. Microsoft IIS, on the other hand, is only compatible with Windows operating systems. nginx, being designed with performance and high concurrency in mind, is compatible with Unix-like systems, including Linux and BSD variants, as well as Windows.

  3. Configuration: Apache HTTP Server has a complex configuration system using the Apache Configuration Language (ACL) or XML-based format. It provides extensive flexibility and customization options but can be overwhelming for beginners. Microsoft IIS uses a graphical user interface (GUI) for configuration, making it more user-friendly for administrators who prefer a visual interface. nginx uses a simple, text-based configuration format that is easy to understand and requires less memory compared to Apache.

  4. Modules and Extensions: Apache HTTP Server has a vast ecosystem of modules and extensions developed by the community, offering extended functionality and support for various web technologies. Microsoft IIS also supports additional functionalities through modules, but the range is more limited compared to Apache. nginx has a modular architecture similar to Apache, allowing the addition of various third-party modules, but its ecosystem is smaller compared to Apache.

  5. Performance and Scalability: Apache HTTP Server has a strong focus on stability and support for legacy setups, which can affect its performance under heavy traffic. Microsoft IIS is optimized for Windows and performs well in Windows environments but may not be as efficient as nginx in high-concurrency scenarios. nginx is renowned for its high-performance capabilities, efficient resource utilization, and handling of concurrent connections, making it a preferred choice for websites with heavy traffic.

  6. Open Source vs. Commercial: Apache HTTP Server is an open-source web server available under the Apache License, making it free to use and customize. Microsoft IIS is a proprietary web server included with Microsoft Windows, and its full functionality requires a Windows Server license. nginx is available in both open-source and commercial versions. The open-source version provides most of the essential features, but additional functionalities, support, and advanced configurations may require a commercial license.

In summary, Apache is renowned for its versatility and community support, IIS excels in Windows environments with tight integration with other Microsoft services, and nginx stands out for its performance and scalability, making it a popular choice for modern, high-traffic websites and applications.

Advice on Microsoft IIS and NGINX

I am diving into web development, both front and back end. I feel comfortable with administration, scripting and moderate coding in bash, Python and C++, but I am also a Windows fan (i love inner conflict). What are the votes on web servers? IIS is expensive and restrictive (has Windows adoption of open source changed this?) Apache has the history but seems to be at the root of most of my Infosec issues, and I know nothing about nginx (is it too new to rely on?). And no, I don't know what I want to do on the web explicitly, but hosting and data storage (both cloud and tape) are possibilities. Ready, aim fire!

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Replies (1)
Simon Aronsson
Developer Advocate at k6 / Load Impact · | 4 upvotes · 689.6K views
Recommends
on
NGINXNGINX

I would pick nginx over both IIS and Apace HTTP Server any day. Combine it with docker, and as you grow maybe even traefik, and you'll have a really flexible solution for serving http content where you can take sites and projects up and down without effort, easily move it between systems and dont have to handle any dependencies on your actual local machine.

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Needs advice
on
Apache HTTP ServerApache HTTP Server
and
NGINXNGINX

From a StackShare Community member: "We are a LAMP shop currently focused on improving web performance for our customers. We have made many front-end optimizations and now we are considering replacing Apache with nginx. I was wondering if others saw a noticeable performance gain or any other benefits by switching."

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Replies (3)
Recommends
on
NGINXNGINX

I use nginx because it is very light weight. Where Apache tries to include everything in the web server, nginx opts to have external programs/facilities take care of that so the web server can focus on efficiently serving web pages. While this can seem inefficient, it limits the number of new bugs found in the web server, which is the element that faces the client most directly.

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Leandro Barral
Recommends
on
NGINXNGINX

I use nginx because its more flexible and easy to configure

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Christian Cwienk
Software Developer at SAP · | 1 upvotes · 657.1K views
Recommends
on
Apache HTTP ServerApache HTTP Server

I use Apache HTTP Server because it's intuitive, comprehensive, well-documented, and just works

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Decisions about Microsoft IIS and NGINX
Daniel Calvo
Co-Founder at Polpo Data Analytics & Software Development · | 8 upvotes · 253.8K views

For us, NGINX is a lite HTTP server easy to configure. On our research, we found a well-documented software we a lot of support from the community.

We have been using it alongside tools like certbot and it has been a total success.

We can easily configure our sites and have a folder for available vs enabled sites, and with the nginx -t command we can easily check everything is running fine.

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Grant Steuart
  • Server rendered HTML output from PHP is being migrated to the client as Vue.js components, future plans to provide additional content, and other new miscellaneous features all result in a substantial increase of static files needing to be served from the server. NGINX has better performance than Apache for serving static content.
  • The change to NGINX will require switching from PHP to PHP-FPM resulting in a distributed architecture with a higher complexity configuration, but this is outweighed by PHP-FPM being faster than PHP for processing requests.
  • The NGINX + PHP-FPM setup now allows for horizontally scaling of resources rather vertically scaling the previously combined Apache + PHP resources.
  • PHP shell tasks can now efficiently be decoupled from the application reducing main application footprint and allow for scaling of tasks on an individual basis.
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I was in a situation where I have to configure 40 RHEL servers 20 each for Apache HTTP Server and Tomcat server. My task was to 1. configure LVM with required logical volumes, format and mount for HTTP and Tomcat servers accordingly. 2. Install apache and tomcat. 3. Generate and apply selfsigned certs to http server. 4. Modify default ports on Tomcat to different ports. 5. Create users on RHEL for application support team. 6. other administrative tasks like, start, stop and restart HTTP and Tomcat services.

I have utilized the power of ansible for all these tasks, which made it easy and manageable.

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Pros of Microsoft IIS
Pros of NGINX
  • 83
    Great with .net
  • 55
    I'm forced to use iis
  • 27
    Use nginx
  • 18
    Azure integration
  • 15
    Best for ms technologyes ms bullshit
  • 10
    Fast
  • 6
    Reliable
  • 6
    Performance
  • 4
    Powerful
  • 3
    Simple to configure
  • 3
    Webserver
  • 2
    Easy setup
  • 1
    Shipped with Windows Server
  • 1
    Ssl integration
  • 1
    Security
  • 1
    Охуенный
  • 1.4K
    High-performance http server
  • 893
    Performance
  • 730
    Easy to configure
  • 607
    Open source
  • 530
    Load balancer
  • 289
    Free
  • 288
    Scalability
  • 226
    Web server
  • 175
    Simplicity
  • 136
    Easy setup
  • 30
    Content caching
  • 21
    Web Accelerator
  • 15
    Capability
  • 14
    Fast
  • 12
    High-latency
  • 12
    Predictability
  • 8
    Reverse Proxy
  • 7
    The best of them
  • 7
    Supports http/2
  • 5
    Great Community
  • 5
    Lots of Modules
  • 5
    Enterprise version
  • 4
    High perfomance proxy server
  • 3
    Embedded Lua scripting
  • 3
    Streaming media delivery
  • 3
    Streaming media
  • 3
    Reversy Proxy
  • 2
    Blash
  • 2
    GRPC-Web
  • 2
    Lightweight
  • 2
    Fast and easy to set up
  • 2
    Slim
  • 2
    saltstack
  • 1
    Virtual hosting
  • 1
    Narrow focus. Easy to configure. Fast
  • 1
    Along with Redis Cache its the Most superior
  • 1
    Ingress controller
Cons of Microsoft IIS
Cons of NGINX
  • 1
    Hard to set up
  • 10
    Advanced features require subscription
- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Microsoft IIS?

Internet Information Services (IIS) for Windows Server is a flexible, secure and manageable Web server for hosting anything on the Web. From media streaming to web applications, IIS's scalable and open architecture is ready to handle the most demanding tasks.

What is NGINX?

nginx [engine x] is an HTTP and reverse proxy server, as well as a mail proxy server, written by Igor Sysoev. According to Netcraft nginx served or proxied 30.46% of the top million busiest sites in Jan 2018.

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What are some alternatives to Microsoft IIS and NGINX?
Apache Tomcat
Apache Tomcat powers numerous large-scale, mission-critical web applications across a diverse range of industries and organizations.
JBoss
An application platform for hosting your apps that provides an innovative modular, cloud-ready architecture, powerful management and automation, and world class developer productivity.
Jetty
Jetty is used in a wide variety of projects and products, both in development and production. Jetty can be easily embedded in devices, tools, frameworks, application servers, and clusters. See the Jetty Powered page for more uses of Jetty.
XAMPP
It consists mainly of the Apache HTTP Server, MariaDB database, and interpreters for scripts written in the PHP and Perl programming languages.
JavaScript
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.