Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows (Pros Cons)

Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows (Pros Cons). Nginx is an open source software that acts as a reverse proxy, load balancer, web server and media streaming service, among other functions. What is more, it is a multi purpose tool with lots of capabilities and functionalities.  What is more, Nginx supports reserve proxy and load balancing for TCP, HTTP, and UDP servers.  It also functions as a proxy server for email (SMTP, POP3, IMAP) servers.

As a reverse proxy, Nginx sits in front of a web server. This proxy sends and receives client requests and forwards them to the backend web server. It examines the HTTP requests and determines which backend server should handle the request. This way, it controls traffic in and out of the main server, enhancing performance and maintaining smooth network traffic flow.

While Nginx performs many functions, it has many alternatives with unique features and capabilities. This article discusses the top 20 best Nginx alternatives for Linux/Windows. Read on!

Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows

1. Lighttpd

First on the list of Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows is Lighttpd. An open source web server designed to deliver huge performance, speed, and security. It’s a great Nginx alternative and ideal for dynamic websites and applications. Lighttpd consumes minimal RAM and CPU and is ideal for environments that run on minimal resources. Also, it runs seamlessly on both Linux and Windows systems.

Lighttpd web server is compatible with both IPv4 and IPv6 and understands HTTP, HTTPS, and FastCGI authentication. Its major capabilities include directory listings, URL rewriting, HTTP Redirects, virtual hosts, and CGI streaming.

In addition, Lighttpd has robust security features. These include HTTP header parsing, set GID, docroot protection, and set UID. While these are just some features, Lighttpd stands out in its performance. This tool is designed to process user requests in real time, while consuming less memory. Besides, it acts as a front end load balancing tool.

Pros of Lighttpd

  • Supports PHP and almost all other programming languages
  • Supports CGI, FCGI, and SCGI
  • Lightweight server for serving static content
  • Handles results asynchronous without slowing down the website
  • Open source and free to use

Cons of Lighttpd

  • It does not have customizable modules
  • Lesser documentation and community support

2. LiteSpeed

LiteSpeed is a high performance HTTP server that delivers fast website loading speeds. This web server software is built with event driven architecture to handle high traffic with minimal resource usage. Delivers high scalability and high speed thanks to its architectural design.

Compatible with Apache’s features, such as mod_security, .htaccess, and mod_rewrite. Essentially, it loads Apache configuration files. Therefore, you use it as a direct Apache replacement.

LiteSpeed has two editions:

  • Enterprise Edition
  • Standard Edition
  • OpenLiteSpeed Edition

LiteSpeed Enterprise is the premium version used for web hosting. The enterprise edition is suitable for large enterprises and is commonly used by leading web hosting companies to provide excellent hosting for their clients. The standard edition is suitable for websites with low traffic. Use this edition for personal or light commercial purposes.

On the other hand, OpenLiteSpeed is an open source version that comprises all LiteSpeed features. This version is not compatible with any hosting control panel and is used to host large, high traffic websites.

Pros of LiteSpeed

  • High compatibility with leading hosting control panels such as DirectAdmin, Plesk, and cPanel.
  • Optimized for PHP performance and static content delivery.
  • Provides high performance for web hosting platforms.
  • Handles sudden spikes in traffic and manage DDoS attacks on its own.
  • Serves thousands of clients simultaneously.

Cons of LiteSpeed

  • Does not support windows.
  • Free, open source version not compatible with Apache.

3. Caddy

Next on the list of Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows is Caddy. A powerful proxy and web server for Linux and Windows. It’s a scalable reverse proxy and static file server used to serve template evaluation and compression, among others. Caddy also helps in load balancing requests between multiple backend servers.

Additionally, it works by proxying requests from clients to backend servers. Configure it to serve websites directly from its file system or proxy requests to other web servers. When a client makes a request, Caddy confirms on its server whether the content is available. When the requested content is available, Caddy serves the client from its cache. If it’s unavailable, it forwards the request to the appropriate server and then sends a response to the client. Also, you configure Caddy to serve static files such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Pros of Caddy

  • Customize it to fit individual needs.
  • Comes with a web based GUI.
  • Provides process, access, and error logs.
  • Configure Caddy to work with multiple backend servers.
  • Uses HTTPs by default.

Cons of Caddy

  • Lacks proper documentation.
  • Lacks a rich variety of features compared to similar tools.

4. Varnish

Varnish is an open source caching HTTP reverse proxy used by millions of websites globally. This tool provides requests to clients from its cache or fetches the response from a backend server and delivers it to the client. Typically, it has ready cached responses that it serves in microseconds. Its powerful cache control engine delivers seamless content delivery.

Varnish is flexible and has a modern architecture that delivers high performance. The VCL configuration language enables you to write policies on how it handles incoming requests. Ideally, you configure the content you want to serve, whether to serve it from the cache or the backend server.

Pros of Varnish

  • Scales appropriately to serve all requests.
  • Maintains uptime by serving cached content when your backend server fails.
  • Easy to use VCL language enables you to configure custom modules, solutions, and rules.
  • Community driven tool with significant contributions to its functionality.

Cons of Varnish Proxy

  • Does not support any TLS/SSL connections.
  • Performs optimally on UNIX systems only.
  • High error rate.

5. HAProxy

High Availability Proxy (HAProxy) is yet another of top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows. Acts as an open source proxy and load balancer, providing seamless content delivery to clients. HAProxy is suitable for proxying HTTP and TCP based applications. Spreads requests across multiple servers in real time and delivers responses appropriately.

HAProxy analyzes and indexes both the responses and requests when running in HTTP mode. This makes it possible to build matching criteria and write correct rules. However, the TCP connection is different. When a client makes a request, the server responds, and the connection ends. A new connection is created when a new request is made.

Pros of HAProxy

  • Low latency.
  • Requires less processing power on the server side.
  • Operates in “keep alive” mode for continuous connection.
  • Open source and free.
  • Logs data such as request response times, URL request, number of requests per second.

Cons of HAProxy

  • The load balancer can be overwhelmed by instant traffic spikes.
  • Requires additional configurations for SSL termination.
  • Not suitable for multi data environments.
  • Requires a skilled in house team for maintenance.

6. Microsoft IIS

Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) is a multipurpose web server that runs on Windows. IIS serves requested HTML pages or files across LAN and WAN connections to clients. It delivers information in multiple forms, such as file exchanges (download or uploads), text documents, and static web pages coded in HTML.

Microsoft IIS works through various protocols and languages. HTTP as the basic communication protocol for exchanging information between servers and clients. Besides, it uses HTML to create elements and HTTPS over SSL to encrypt information and secure data. Also, it has additional protocols such as SMTP for email sending and receiving and FTP/FTPS for file transfer.

Pros of Microsoft IIS

Cons of Microsoft IIS

  • Does not run on other systems outside of Windows.
  • No comprehensive documentation.
  • Not open source.

7. AnalogX Proxy

AnalogX Proxy is a simple yet extremely powerful proxy server for Windows. With AnalogX Proxy, you only need to configure it and share connections with other computers in the same network. You configure the services you want to use, i.e., HTTP, SMTP, NNTP, FTP, Socks, and POP3.

After configuring AnalogX Proxy, you then configure the clients so they access the rest of the networks through a proxy network.

Pros of AnalogX Proxy

  • Easy to use. 
  • Has a simple, intuitive user interface.
  • Minimal configurations required.
  • Ideal for beginners with minimal networking experience.
  • Has a simple documentation.

Cons of AnalogX Proxy

  • The initial setup process is overwhelming.
  • Does not have filtering options.

8. Traefik

Traefik is a load balancing tool, reverse proxy, and a suitable alternative to Nginx. Cloud based proxy that simplifies the deployment of microservices. Essentially, it’s an easy to use tool capable of handling complex deployments across a wide range of protocols in private and public cloud environments. Traefix integrates seamlessly with your existing infrastructure components. Besides, it has an auto configuration feature that configures itself dynamically.

Traefik works by intercepting and routing incoming requests to the backend servers. Unlike static reverse proxies, Traefik leverages self discovery for self dynamic configuration. Supports all major communication protocols and has a rich variety of middleware for load balancing.

This tool has excellent load balancing capabilities. It has flexible Layer 4 and 7 routing capabilities alongside a large middleware toolkit that enables it to scale dynamically and handle all requests without downtime. Middleware is basically means of tweaking requests before sending them to your backend service or serving responses to clients. They include response compressors, circuit breakers, rate limiters, and automatic retries.

Other features of Traefix include Kubernetes Ingress, API Gateway, and Certificate management. All these features constitute a robust architecture suitable for content delivery.

Pros of Traefik

  • Automatic HTTPS for enhanced security.
  • Auto discovery of services such as Amazon ECS, Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift, and Rancher, among others.
  • Real time metrics through Grafana or Datadog dashboards.
  • Has built in automatic certificate management for high availability deployments.

Cons of Traefix

  • Complex documentation.
  • Cache only available in the pro version.

9. Privoxy

Privoxy is an open source web proxy with non caching capabilities. It has a highly advanced security posture which makes it a great alternative to Nginx. This tool runs on all major web browsers and  modifies HTTP headers and web pages. Privoxy is easy to configure and customize depending on your individual needs. Use it in standalone systems and multi user networks.

Pros of Privoxy

  • Modifies web pages data and HTTP headers before sending responses to browsers.
  • Has enhanced user’s web privacy.
  • Filters sensitive personal information that your browser can leak.
  • Removes ads on web pages and other forms of junk content.

Cons of Privoxy

  • Lightweight and not suitable for extremely high traffic websites.

10. Jetty

Jetty is a lightweight reverse proxy and web server that is embedded into Java applications. It supports web protocols such as WebSocket, HTTP, and HTTP/2 in low latency, high volume architecture. Jetty has the following core components: HTTP Server, HTTP Client, and HTTP Container. All these components work in perfect sync to deliver high performance.

Pros of Jetty

  • It has a memory footprint that increases scalability.
  • Allows more control of custom filters.
  • Open source and commercially usable.
  • Embeddable in web applications.
  • Supports asynchronous request processing.

Cons of Jetty

  • Huge learning curve.
  • Requires Java knowledge to use.

11. Squid Proxy Server

Squid Proxy Server is a web proxy server for FTP, HTTP, and other network protocols. An excellent tool for various caching and proxy server needs. Delivers content closer to the requester than its original point of origin through caching. Caching frequently accessed files and media files reduces latency and accelerates response times.

Squid’s main strength is the caching feature. Deploy squid in Accelerate mode to handle requests faster than ordinary web servers. Also, it routes client requests to servers in multiple ways to build cache server hierarchies, optimizing network throughput. Squid Proxy Server has advanced routing capabilities that you utilize to load balance requests and handle traffic spikes.

Pros of Squid Proxy Server

Cons of Squid Proxy Server

  • No have live support.
  • It has fewer functionalities compared to similar proxy servers

12. Kestrel

Kestrel is a web server in the ASP.NET core. It is an open source, event driven, asynchronous I/O based server used to host ASP.NET web applications. Kestrel is used alongside a Reverse proxy such as Nginx, Apache, or IIS. The reverse proxy receives HTTPs requests and forwards them to the Kestrel for handling.

Kestrel web server is based on the Libuv library. Libuv is an event driven multi platform support library focused on asynchronous I/O based event loops.

Pros of Kestrel

  • Use Kestrel as an edge server.
  • Cross platform support.
  • Seamless integration with Visual Studio.
  • Handles over 1 million requests per second.

Cons of Kestrel

  • Requires an additional reverse proxy.
  • Requires a wide range of configurations.
  • Limited documentation.
  • Lacks a proper security posture.

13. Apache HTTP Server

Further on the list of Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows is Apache HTTP Server.   Open source web server for content delivery over the internet. This server establishes connections between browsers and backend servers, and delivers files back and forth. It’s compatible with Windows and UNIX operating systems. Apache HTTP server is responsible for smooth and secure communications between the client and the server. Besides, it has several security modules to ensure maximum data security.

Apache uses a thread based structure. Ideally, a thread based approach associates incoming connections with a separate response process (known as a thread). This way, each new connection has a dedicated activity.

Pros of Apache HTTP Server

  • Open source architecture enables developers to customize it for each type of website.
  • Plenty of modules for security, password authentication, URL rewriting, and caching.
  • Easy configuration and beginner friendly for small and medium usage.
  • Huge community support.

Cons of Apache HTTP Server

  • Low performance on high traffic websites.
  • Requires too many configurations that can result in security weaknesses.

14. Abyss Web Server

Abyss Web Server is a lightweight open source web server for Linux and Windows. This server supports HTTPs and HTTP/2 connections to enable seamless content delivery to clients. Also, it supports content generation through CGI/FastCGI scripts, WebSocket reverse proxying, and certificate renewal from Let’s Encrypt® (ACME v2).

Abyss Web Server is based on a robust Anti-crash Protection eXtension (APX) architecture. If a software error causes it to crash, it generates a report and restarts in real time, preventing downtime.

Besides, Abyss Web Server has a robust security posture. It has an anti hacking system and a remote web management interface for seamless configurations. Also, it has an anti leeching system that prevents cross site scripting.

Pros of Abyss Web Server

  • Low memory requirements.
  • Supports URLs and file names written in any human language.
  • Supports IPv4 and IPv6 internet protocols.
  • Its URL rewriting engine conforms to industry standards.
  • Supports TLS protocols that provide secure connections over the internet.
  • Thorough documentation and detailed instructions.

Cons of Abyss Web Server

  • Limited customizations.
  • Most features available on the premium version.

15. Tomcat

Another on Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows is Tomcat. Primarily a web server for powering large scale, mission critical applications. Basically, Tomcat is a Java servlet container that implements Java Servlet and Java Server Pages. It performs the basic functions of a web server and a Servlet container. What is more, you can use Tomcat as a standalone product with its own internal web server. Alternatively, you use it alongside other web servers, including Netscape Enterprise Server and Microsoft IIS.

Pros of Tomcat

  • Operates independently from Apache.
  • Has a comprehensive documentation.
  • Redeploys automatically to maintain uptime.
  • Manages large web applications effortlessly.
  • Geared towards Java based content.

Cons of Tomcat

  • Requires a  properly configured Java environment that’s challenging to implement.
  • Has issues with SSL installations.

16. Monkey Server

Monkey Server is a lightweight Linux web server. It has popular HTTP server features such as caching, URL replication, and more. Besides, it has a flexible C API to create plugins. This web server has a hybrid mechanism composed of a fixed number of threads where each serves thousands of clients.

Pros of Monkey Server

  • Tested for multiple architectures such as x86, x64, and ARM.
  • Designed for low CPU and memory consumption.
  • Suitable for embedded devices.
  • Has SSL support.

Cons of Monkey Server

  • No Windows support.
  • Limited documentation.

17. Tornado Web Server

Tornado is a Python based web server and asynchronous networking library that relies on non-blocking I/O to serve web applications. Most suitable for applications that require long lived connections. When a request is received, the server processes it in a fraction of a second.

Pros of Tornado Web Server

  • Single threaded HTTP server.
  • It does not require external configurations.
  • Easy to understand Python modules.
  • The ideal framework for asynchronous static content handling.

Cons of Tornado Web Server

  • Limited features on Windows.
  • Limited API support.

18. Tengine

Tengine is a web server based on the Nginx HTTP server. This web server serves some of the world’s largest websites thanks to its powerful engine. It sends unbuffered uploads directly to FastCGI and HTTP servers, hence highly efficient in handling user requests. For forward proxying, Tengine supports the CONNECT HTTP method. Unlike most web servers, Tengine has multiple load balancing methods, such as upstream health check, consistent hashing, domain name resolving, and session persistence.

Pros of Tengine

  • Removes unnecessary white spaces on web pages.
  • It has a friendly command line that displays all supported directives and compiled modules.
  • Combines multiple JavaScript and CSS requests to minimize downtime.
  • Has a memory monitoring module that redirects requests when they exceed a certain threshold.

Cons of Tengine

  • Has numerous bugs.
  • Not suitable for small websites.

19. YARP

Yet another of Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows is Yet Another Reverse Proxy (YARP). Furthermore it is an open source reverse proxy built on the Microsoft .NET platform. Unlike ordinary reverse proxies that operate on the ISO/OSI model, YARP operates on the HTTP later. In YARP, incoming and outgoing requests operate independently of each other. YARP provides various proxy related features such as load balancing, caching, and logging.

Pros of YARP

  • Designed to allow easy customization via .NET code.
  • Has additional APIs for middleware to facilitate real time access to routes and clusters.
  • Has header matching rules for routes.
  • Flexible, dynamic configuration.

Cons of YARP

  • Relatively new with limited features .
  • Slower compared to the Nginx proxy.

20. OpenResty

OpenResty is a web server designed to help developers build high performance web applications. It is a superset of Nginx in that it utilizes some Nginx modules. Using Nginx modules turns it into a powerful web app server. Ideally, developers can use Lua programming language for scripting existing Lua and Nginx C modules and creating extremely high performance web applications.

As a web server, OpenResty runs your web app’s server side in the Nginx server. It leverages the Nginx event driven model to facilitate requests on HTTP servers, as well as remote backends such as Redis, MySQL, Memcached, etc.

Pros of OpenResty

  • Multiple real world applications.
  • Runs on limited resources.
  • Rich variety of built in support features.
  • User friendly GUI for large scale server management.

Cons of OpenResty

  • Limited functionality on Windows.
  • It takes time to learn some OpenResty modules.

Thank you for reading Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows. We shall conclude the article now. 

Top 20 Best Nginx Alternatives for Linux / Windows (Pros and Cons) Conclusion

If you are looking for a great Nginx alternative for Linux or Windows systems, the above web servers come in handy. They use the HTTP alongside other protocols, such as FTP and SMTP, to respond to client requests and suits your content delivery needs. Besides, they act as reverse proxies and load balancers to increase performance and deliver responses seamlessly. All you need is to consider your needs, operating systems, and traffic size.

For more tips like these, read our blog!

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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