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Web Server

Posted: June 2, 2023 | by Michael Bright

A web server is a software application or program that serves websites and web applications to clients over the internet or a local network. It handles requests from clients, such as web browsers, and responds by delivering the requested web pages or resources.

When a user requests a web page by entering a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) in their browser, the browser sends a request to the web server. The web server receives the request, processes it, and sends back the requested content, which is typically in the form of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, or other media files.

Web servers operate on the client-server model, where the web server software runs on a server machine and listens for incoming requests on a specific port (usually port 80 for HTTP or port 443 for HTTPS). Upon receiving a request, the web server determines the appropriate response based on the requested URL and any associated parameters.

Web servers are responsible for various tasks, including:

  1. Handling HTTP Requests: Web servers handle incoming HTTP requests, parsing the request headers and determining the appropriate action based on the request method (such as GET, POST, PUT, DELETE).
  2. Content Delivery: Web servers deliver static files, such as HTML pages, images, CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, and downloadable files, to the requesting client.
  3. Dynamic Content Generation: Web servers can generate dynamic content by interfacing with application frameworks, scripting languages (like PHP, Python, or Ruby), and databases. They process the request, execute the necessary code, retrieve data from databases, and construct a dynamic response to be sent back to the client.
  4. Server-Side Processing: Web servers can handle server-side processing tasks, such as form data processing, authentication, session management, and application logic execution.
  5. Security: Web servers play a crucial role in securing web applications. They can enforce encryption using SSL/TLS protocols (HTTPS) to ensure secure data transmission. Web servers also implement security measures to prevent unauthorized access and protect against common web attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).

Common web server software includes Apache HTTP Server, Nginx, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), and LiteSpeed Web Server. These web servers can be configured, customized, and extended to suit specific requirements.

Web servers are a fundamental component of the internet infrastructure, enabling the hosting and delivery of websites, web applications, and other online services to users worldwide.

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