Apache Web Server vs Tomcat – What is the Difference? (Pros and Cons)

So, a question for you: ” What is the difference between Apache Web Server vs Tomcat?” Did the question leave you scratching your head? If yes, then don’t worry! You are not alone in this confusion that arises vague thoughts around this topic. Even developers face a lot of doubts when confronted with this question. But, to avoid this, hear this out very clearly- When someone asks this question to you, she wants to know the difference between Apache Tomcat and the Apache web Server. Note that both Apache Tomcat and Apache web Server are different projects maintained under the Apache Software Foundation i.e. they are not the same thing. Once you understand this fact, it gets easier to recognize the ill-worded nature of the Apache and Tomcat query. This confusion primarily begins from the fact that Apache has become colloquially synonymous with Apache web Server. Apache HTTP Server was established in 1999 and was the first project under Apache Software Foundation. However, the synonymous use of Apache for Apache HTTP Server resulted in the naming problem that we face today. In this blog, we will discuss the nitty-gritty of both these projects and how they differ from each other.

 

Before jumping directly to the difference, let us understand the basics of Apache web server vs Tomcat and their various pros and cons.

What is Apache Web Server?

apache web server vs tomcat

Apache Web server is a free and open source web server that displays web content through the internet. It is also known as Apache in today’s time. Additionally, it is one of the most popular open source HTTP clients over the internet. It runs on 67% of all the webservers in the world. Furthermore, it can be customized to meet the needs of various environments with extensions and modules. You’d be surprised to know that most of the WordPress hosting providers use Apache as the webserver software. However, WordPress can work on other web servers too. Some of the popular companies that use Apache are Paypal, Adobe, eBay, Linkedin and Facebook. The main work of the Apache web server is to accept requests from a web browser such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge and convert programming languages into well developed web pages that are visible to viewers.

Key Features of Apache Web Server

  • Unix Threading – With On Unix systems and POSIX threads support, Apache runs in a hybrid multiprocess and multithread mode that improves scalability for many configurations.

 

  • Better support for non-UNIX platforms – Apache HTTP server is better, faster and more stable on non-UNIX platforms such as BeOS, OS/2, and Windows. Furthermore, with the introduction of multi-processing modules and ARP’s (Apache Portable Runtime), these platforms can now be implemented in their native API’s too, thereby avoiding the issue of poorly performing POSIX emulation layers.

 

  • Apache filtering – Apache modules can also be written as filters which may act as steam of content as delivered to or from the server. This allows the output of CGI scripts to be parsed using the includes filter.

 

  • Multi-language error responses – Apache offers multi-language error response messages to the browser using SSI documents. These can also be customized by the administrator to achieve a consistent look and feel of the website.

 

  • Simplified configuration – Apache has a very simple configuration that doesn’t confuse. Therefore, the often confusing Port and BindAddress directives are over. Apache only uses the Listen directive for IP address binding.


There are many pros that justify why you should consider using Apache web server as a web hosting solution. But the game doesn’t stop here. Apart from some amazing points that convince you into buying, there are some cons too that may want you to look at other alternatives to Apache. Let’s start with something sweet i.e the pros!

Pros and Cons of Apache Web Server

Pros:

  • Apache is an open-source web hosting solution. Therefore, anyone can use it for free.
  • The customizable code of Apache makes it easier for administrators to adjust their needs accordingly.
  • Apache lets you add numerous features and modules to enhance functionality and boost performance.
  • Highly reliable and straightforward
  • Apache can run on almost every operating system
  • Apache has praiseworthy documentation that is very extensive and helpful.

Cons:

  • Apache’s ability to modify the configuration poses a severe threat when milled with code.
  • The configuration facility opens new gates for new bugs and errors altogether. This means more time and more resource consumption.
  • The platform requires strict up-gradation and updates to function smoothly, without any errors.
  • Although it runs smoothly on websites, certain large and heavy-traffic websites cause poor and slow performance.


So, these are the pros and cons you can consider taking into account when starting with this web hosting solution. Another web hosting solution that offers similar services is Tomcat.

What is Tomcat?

tomcat vs Apache web server

Tomcat is also an open source platform and a matured Java servlet container. This container helps to install various Java enterprise specifications such as websites, API, JavaServer Pages (JSP), Java Servlets etc. The Apache Tomcat platform was developed in 1998 in a participatory environment, Therefore, it started as a reference for the first Servlet API and pages. But ow, it is not a reference implementation for these technologies. Till now, it is considered one of the best and most preferred javascript web hosting solutions.

Key Features of Tomcat

  • Tomcat’s memory leak detection and prevention feature fix some of the common causes of memory leaks from the PermGen space. It does so by removing references to objects that don’t get garbage collected. This feature is made for developers deploying applications to Tomcat in their development environments. In development environments, it helps developers save time they spend to redeploy new war files without restarting Tomcat.
  • A new NIO connector in Tomcat allows you to take care of all the asynchronous communication of low-level I/0 data. This, in turn, helps Tomcat in implementing advanced control over their applications.
  • Tomcat’s new executor element permits users to configure injectable thread pools that can be shared between various applications.
  • Users can also perform certain changes to the configuration to define multiple URL pattern elements within one single servlet-mapping element.
  • Tomcat offers full support for Comet, a new HTTP push method, and the SEND_FILE API that helps to transfer files over a socket connection.

Pros and Cons of Tomcat

Pros:

  • The biggest pro of using Apache Tomcat is that it’s open source. Therefore, there is no need to spend money to use this software. One only needs to download, configure and start working on it over the internet.
  • Tomcat provides updates at regular intervals. Not only this, but it also fixes all the issues and bugs that make it easier for developers to operate the software.
  • Tomcat can also be made to run multiple web applications on different ports. For instance, it could be run three applications on 8080, 8081, 9090 port numbers simultaneously.
  • Tomcat can be used on multiple operating systems. Some of them include Windows, Mac OS, Linux operating systems.

Apache Tomcat is very lightweight. It is lightweight as it consumes less memory and resources, thus helps the application to run smoothly and without any specific issues.

Cons:

  • Apache Tomcat is not as fast as Apache HTTP when it comes to working with static pages.
  • Apache Tomcat faces several issues with installations such as SSL installations.
  • It has a very weak and basic user interface as compared to various other web hosting solutions in the market.
  • Sometimes, one may face issues with memory and the way logs are handled.

 

Using certain bases such as speech and uses help us understand the core of these web hosting solutions better, so without wasting any more time, let us see the difference between Apache web server vs Tomcat .

Apache Web Server vs Tomcat – Key Differences

  • Basic – Tomcat server is a JSP or a servlet container server. On the other hand, if we talk about Apache HTTP, it is an HTTP server as the name suggests. It serves the files via HTTP protocol.

 

  • Usage – Tomcat is majorly used to host code that is based on Java. While, Apache HTTP can be used to host applications coded from any programming language such as Java, Python etc.

 

  • Handling capability – Tomcat server is used to handle both static and dynamic pages. Static pages are those pages that are developed using HTML and dynamic pages are those that are developed using Servlet and JSP. Apache HTTP can be used to handle static pages developed with the help of HTML and dynamic pages coded in Ruby, PHP. Apart from this, Apache HTTP can also handle other programming languages with the help of add-on modules offered by Apache itself.

 

  • Configurability and robustness – Tomcat is not very robust and configurable. Apache HTTP, on the other hand, is very robust and configurable.

 

  • Programming language – Tomcat is majorly written in Java and the Apache HTTP server is written in C programming language.

 

  • Speed – When serving static content on the browser is concerned, Tomcat is much slower in displaying content than Apache HTTP. Apache HTTP web server is fast and quick in serving static content over the internet.

Conclusion

All in all, these were the most important basics that you should consider when choosing between both these web hosting solutions. There is no single answer that points out the best between the two, but there are various dimensions that tell which can be the best one for you. If you are looking at high speed and more configurability, then Apache web server will be the best option for you, but if you are preferring Java over C programming language, then we suggest you go for Tomcat. Hope your doubts are all cleared after reading this article. If you forget anything or face any problem, you can always visit us and read this article again!

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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