Does Rails Need a Web Server?


Angela Bailey

Does Rails Need a Web Server?

When it comes to Ruby on Rails, the question often arises – does Rails need a web server? The answer may surprise you. While Rails itself is a powerful framework that can handle many tasks, including serving web pages, it is recommended to use a separate web server for production deployments.

Why Use a Web Server?


A dedicated web server such as Nginx or Apache offers better performance and scalability compared to using the built-in Rails server. These web servers are designed to handle high traffic loads efficiently, ensuring optimal response times for your application.

Load Balancing:

In production environments where your application may receive a large number of requests simultaneously, load balancing becomes crucial. A web server enables you to distribute incoming requests across multiple instances of your Rails application, improving overall performance and availability.

How Does It Work?

In a typical setup, the web server acts as an intermediary between the client and your Rails application. When a request is made to your application, it first goes through the web server. The web server then forwards the request to one of the available instances of your Rails application.

Static Asset Serving:

Another advantage of using a separate web server is its ability to efficiently serve static assets such as images, CSS files, and JavaScript files. This offloads this task from your Rails application, allowing it to focus on processing dynamic requests.

Deployment Options

Nginx + Unicorn/Puma:

  • Nginx is commonly used as a reverse proxy in front of Unicorn or Puma servers.
  • Unicorn and Puma are popular application servers that can handle multiple simultaneous requests.
  • Nginx handles incoming requests and passes them to one of the Unicorn/Puma instances.

Apache + Passenger:

  • Apache is another widely used web server that can be combined with Passenger, a module specifically designed for hosting Ruby applications.
  • Passenger integrates seamlessly with Apache, providing an efficient and scalable solution for Rails deployments.


In conclusion, while Rails does come with a built-in server for development purposes, it is highly recommended to use a dedicated web server in production environments. The use of a web server offers better performance, load balancing capabilities, and efficient static asset serving.

Popular options include Nginx with Unicorn or Puma, as well as Apache with Passenger. Choose the setup that best suits your application’s needs and scale your Rails deployment effectively!

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