Can HAProxy Be Used as Web Server?


Scott Campbell

Can HAProxy Be Used as Web Server?

HAProxy is primarily known as a load balancer and proxy server, but it can also be used as a web server in certain scenarios. While it may not have all the features and capabilities of a dedicated web server like Apache or Nginx, HAProxy can still serve static content efficiently and handle basic web server functionality.

The Role of HAProxy

HAProxy is commonly used for load balancing traffic across multiple backend servers. It acts as an intermediary between clients and servers, distributing incoming requests to different backend servers based on various algorithms like round-robin or least connections.

However, HAProxy can also be configured to serve static content directly to clients without the need for a separate web server. This can be useful in scenarios where you only need to serve simple static files or when you want to minimize the complexity and resource usage by combining the functionalities of both load balancing and web serving into a single component.

Configuring HAProxy as a Web Server

To use HAProxy as a web server, you need to configure it accordingly in your HAProxy configuration file. Here’s an example:

frontend http_front
  bind *:80
  mode http

  acl is_static path_end .html .css .js
  use_backend static_backend if is_static

  default_backend dynamic_backend

backend static_backend
  mode http
  option http-server-close
  option forwardfor

  # Serve static files from /var/www/static/
  http-response set-header Content-Encoding gzip
  server static_server1 check

backend dynamic_backend
  mode http
  option http-server-close
  option forwardfor

  # Forward dynamic requests to backend servers
  server dynamic_server1 192.20:80 check
  server dynamic_server2 192.21:80 check

In this example, we define two backends: static_backend for serving static files and dynamic_backend for forwarding dynamic requests to backend servers.

We use an ACL (Access Control List) to identify static files based on their file extensions (.html, .css, .js). If a request matches the ACL condition, it is sent to the static_backend; otherwise, it is sent to the dynamic_backend.

In the static_backend, we set some options like http-server-close and forwardfor, which are common for HTTP-based services. We also set the Content-Encoding header to gzip to compress the static content and improve performance.

The actual servers that serve the static content or handle dynamic requests are defined using the server directive with their respective IP addresses and ports.

Limits of Using HAProxy as a Web Server

  • Lack of advanced features: HAProxy’s primary focus is on load balancing and proxying requests, so it may not have all the advanced features provided by dedicated web servers like Apache or Nginx.
  • No support for server-side scripting: HAProxy cannot execute server-side scripts like PHP or Python, limiting its ability to handle complex web applications that require server-side processing.
  • No support for dynamic content generation: HAProxy does not have built-in support for generating dynamic content like web servers with scripting capabilities. It can only serve pre-existing static files.


While HAProxy is primarily designed for load balancing and proxying, it can also be used as a web server in certain scenarios. By configuring HAProxy to serve static content directly, you can combine the functionalities of load balancing and web serving into a single component, reducing complexity and resource usage. However, it’s important to note that HAProxy may not have all the advanced features and capabilities of dedicated web servers, making it more suitable for simple static file serving rather than complex dynamic web applications.

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