Updated Dec 19 at 05:15 CDT (first posted Dec 18 at 06:01 CDT) by Remi

A few weeks ago we quietly started to configure our new machines with Nginx as the front web server instead of Apache (we still run Apache behind Nginx for people who need all the features from Apache).

Here is a little benchmark that I did to compare Nginx versus Apache (with the worker-MPM) for serving a small static file:

nginx vs Apache requests per second

This benchmark is not representative of a real-world application because in my benchmark the web servers were only serving a small static file from localhost (in real life your files would get served to remote machines and some of your requests would be dynamic) but the results are impressive nonetheless. Both servers are capable of serving a huge number of requests per second, but Apache’s performance start decreasing as you add more concurrent connections whereas Nginx’s performance almost doesn’t drop!

But here comes the best bit: because Nginx is event-based it doesn’t need to spawn new processes or threads for each request, so its memory usage is very low. Throughout my benchmark it just sat at 2.5MB of memory while Apache was using a lot more:

nginx vs Apache memory usage

To take advantage of the lightning speed of Nginx we have added two new types of applications to our control panel: the “static only” app and the“symlink to static-only” app. They just work like a normal “static/cgi/php” and “symlink to static/cgi/php” app, except that they can only serve purely static content (no .htaccess support) and they are served directly by the front Nginx server.

Even if your site is not static you can still serve all your static data (CSS, javascript, images, …) directly from Nginx and enjoy the speed gain.

Nginx is only available on Web57 and over. If you’re on an older server and would like to use Nginx open a ticket and we’ll give you an extra plan on a new Nginx server and a free week to transfer your data.

Nginx FTW!

[Updated December 19th, 2008 to clarify the fact that we still run Apache behind Nginx for people who need all the Apache features]