Tomcat vs Nginx – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Tomcat vs Nginx – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). In this article I would like to introduce Tomcat and Nginx server. After tha the advantages and disadvantages of using of using those two web servers. At the end of this tutorial I will compare both Tomcat vs Nginx servers.

What is Tomcat server?

Apache Tomcat is an open source implementation of Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages, Java Expression Language and Java WebSocket technologies.

It is a high performance open source HTTP server to handle HTTP requests. Tomcat server is used to handle HTTP requests. The Tomcat is considered by many to be one of the safest and most efficient web servers.

It is interesting to add that Apache Tomcat is a servlet container as well as a web server that can be used for deployment and testing with support for Java applications. In addition Tomcat web server use cases are in many large scale mission critical applications in a variety of domains and industrial applications.

It features non blocking API approach, where the servlet reads an HTTP requests.

Benefits and Features of a Tomcat server

  • Uses unique values to prevent cross site request (CSRF) attacks.
  • Detects and prevents memory leaks.
  • Changes jsessionid during authentication to completely prevent session persistence attacks.
  • It’s easier to integrate Tomcat with applications like JBoss.
  • Supports for Servlet 3.0, JSP 2.2 and JSP-EL 2.2.
  • Asynchronous logging.

Pros of Tomcat Server

  • Open source so anyone can use it for free.
  • It is light and provides fast data processing, which assists to increase productivity and efficiency when working on complex projects.
  • Lots of online help is available for any problem you have.
  • Highly flexible.
  • One of the most used application servers.
  • It gives us an additional level of security.
  • Relatively advanced technology.
  • Java based and content oriented.

Cons of Tomcat Server

  • A memory leak can occur.
  • Cluster support is not enough at times.
  • This web server is not as fast and efficient as the Apache web server, especially when working with static websites.
  • Users may encounter problems with memory and SSL settings.
  • Using the tomcat manager for troubleshooting is not very informative. The error messages are not clear, you will have to dig into the log files to get more information about the problems.
  • Great for simple web applications, but might not work for intensive development that might require a full J2EE stack, maybe better like JBoss.
  • Security in tomcat is not easy because I think you need to understand how to configure a domain in tomcat to a hashed password, when configuring users in the tomcat – users .xml file.

Next in this blog article Tomcat vs Nginx – What’s the Difference ? is to introduce nginx. 

What is Nginx server?

NGINX is a web server but is commonly used as a reverse proxy. It can effectively scale as a web server as well as a reverse proxy server. It is important to mention that it does not allow you to assign a process to a specific connection, but creates a group of processes that can be easily shared with multiple connections on the network. Firstly, each time a request is made, a resource will be allocated to the process, ensuring better resource utilization that will easily handle important connections.

Secondly, the NGINX server helps to establish a secure connection between data centers and external networks. It also performs well as an HTTP load balancer, allowing you to take advantage of a variety of load sharing mechanisms.

Thirdly ,the Nginx, pronounced “engine-ex”, is an open source web server that, since its initial success as a web server, is now also used as a reverse proxy, HTTP cache, and load balancer.

Some of the famous companies using Nginx include Atlassian, GitLab, Microsoft, Google, VMWare, Citrix and many others.

Interestingly it was introduced with an asynchronous and event driven architecture that is completely different from the traditional process oriented architecture. Therefore, NGINX is considered the most reliable server that maintains speed and scalability.

Benefits and Features of a Nginx Server

This nginx server being one of one of the most popular web and reverse proxy servers today offers high performance, unlimited configurability and is a widely used component in modern stacks such as Kubernetes

  • Low barrier to adoption.
  • A declarative model for common use cases.
  • Application management as a service.
  • Reconfigure without restarting.

Pros of Nginx Server

  • It uses a non-blocking and event driven architecture with much less consumption of CPU and memory.
  • Works well in multiprocessor environments.
  • It has many options for optimization and static content management. 
  • Offers Load Balancing.
  • No risk of data loss.
  • This NGINX server helps you with positioning yourself effectively in Google.

Cons of Nginx Server

  • There are fewer extensions.
  • Less community support and documentation .
  • Not as many modules or extensions as Apache.
  • Difficulties in module creation and with HTTP / 1.0 support with backend communication.
  • It comes with less community support than Apache, but has more use cases than Apache.

Tomcat vs Nginx - What's the Difference?

Tomcat vs Nginx comparison

Nginx is a web server

Firstly Nginx is a feature rich open source web server based on asynchronous and event driven approach. It handles static and dynamic requests and multiple queries. No problem with hardware or memory consumption. Does very well with large and variable loads. It also intelligently uses load balancers to manage the load of multiple web application requests. It is event based architecture.

Tomcat is HTTP server

On the other hand Tomcat is a high performance HTTP server that processes HTTP requests. It is considered one of the safest and most efficient web servers. It supports Unix and Windows. 

Tomcat usecases

Here the Apache Tomcat is Java Servlet, Pages and java language server. 

Nginx usecases

But with use cases in Nginx is mainly used as a reverse proxy, proxy and IMAP/POP3 server.

Tomcat Client handling requests

Remember that the server of Tomcat uses multi processes modules to handle client requests and web traffic.

Nginx Client handling requests

On the other hand with nginx it handles multiple client requests all at the same time with minimal hardware resources.

Apache Tomcat Architecture

Well it is much harder to scale with Tomcat due to multi threaded architecture.

Nginx Architecture

In contrary with event driven and asynchronous approach it handles multiple client requests with ease. 

Nginx vs Tomcat Table Comparison

Features Tomcat differences Nginx differences
Server Type:
Apache Tomcat is an HTTP web server that is basically designed to handle Java servlets.
Nginx is a very efficient open source web server and reverse proxy server.
Static Content:
Static content in Apache Tomcat is relatively slow and slower than Nginx.
Nginx can handle static and dynamic content with FastCGI and SCGI very easy and fast.
Tomcat on the other hand cannot handle multiple simultaneous requests but uses multiple CPU request management for management.
Nginx has great ability to handle multiple simultaneous client requests and uses minimal hardware resources.
Dynamic Content:
Apache Tomcat handle static HTML, XML, JSON and dynamic files on the web server itself.
Nginx can handle static content well but cannot handle dynamic content internally. Use an external source to run dynamic files.
Apache Tomcat is developed and maintained by Apache software platforms, so all patches, issues and maintenance are reported through different channels and managed by one large community of users worldwide.
Nginx issues are handled by the company of the same name "Nginx Plus". It also provides various training sessions and internal tutorials with videos and other data on various topics.
Apache Tomcat wins the race as it has a dynamic module loading, and the dynamic content can be processed easily within the webserver. Customization is also possible and writing of the modules .
For flexibility, dynamic content cannot be loaded with ease.
Web Performance:
Is good at dealing with Java servlets, the performance with static content is lower than that of Nginx.
Here Nginx is much better than Apache Tomcat. It can handle multiple requests for static and dynamic content simultaneously using as little memory as possible.

Thank you so much for reading about Tomcat vs Nginx – What’s the Difference ? We shall conclude.

Tomcat vs Nginx - What's the Difference? Conclusion

The above article clearly explains what the Nginx and Tomcat servers are, then it presents the advantages and disadvantages follows to the basic differences between them. Apache Tomcat and Nginx serve different purposes. If someone needs to manage as much static content as possible, Nginx is king. But when it comes to dynamic content Tomcat is slightly better or you can use both. It depends on your needs and we can create the best web content by combining it with the best features.

Nowadays, Internet consumption is at the highest level, and the competition in the field of web application development is increasing, knowledge about NGINX and Apache becomes more and more important. It is important for developers and organizations to decide which web host or web host will best serve them.

Please take a look at our Tomcat content here. For Nginx read here.

Avatar for Kamil Wisniowski
Kamil Wisniowski

I love technology. I have been working with Cloud and Security technology for 5 years. I love writing about new IT tools.

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