Why Only Three Web Server Platforms Matter

Why Only Three Web Server Platforms Matter

The market for web server software doesn’t show a lot of variation these days. If you name a popular site, there’s roughly a 50 per cent chance it will be using Apache.

Server picture from Shutterstock

Each month, Netcraft auto-polls active web sites to determine which server software they run. For its April 2015 survey, three platforms dominate: Apache, Microsoft IIS and nginx. (Google is a very distant fourth). These are the core figures:

Platform Sites Percentage
Apache 333,285,741 39.25%
Microsoft IIS 236,288,843 27.83%
nginx 126,274,778 14.87%
Google 20,051,433 2.36%

Because web sites are often deployed and then ignored, those figures don’t necessarily tell the whole story when it comes to servers that are being actively deployed or maintained. Netcraft also runs a survey across the million most popular sites, which presents somewhat different figures but maintains the overall order:

Platform Sites Percentage
Apache 2,454,577 46.95%
Microsoft 1,559,106 29.82%
nginx 612,518 11.72%

In other words: if you’ve built up skills on any platform other than these three, it’s time to retrain, and if you’re thinking of building your web server administration skills, Apache is the obvious choice.



  • nginx has more market share than I expected. Apache is certainly popular though because of its clean interaction with other web services like Tomcat through either CGI or modules.

  • You’ve accidentally pasted in the ‘market share of computers’ data, not the ‘million busiest sites’ data. You may note that they add up to well over four million.

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