How Is Apache Tomcat Different From Apache Web Server?


Angela Bailey

In the world of web servers, two popular names that often come up are Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server. While both are developed by the Apache Software Foundation, they serve different purposes and have distinct features. In this article, we will explore the differences between Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server.

What is Apache Tomcat?

Apache Tomcat is an open-source web server and servlet container that is commonly used to deploy Java-based web applications. It provides a Java-based environment for running web applications that adhere to the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages (JSP) specifications.

Tomcat can be considered as a lightweight application server, specifically designed for executing Java-based web applications. It provides functionality for handling HTTP requests, managing sessions, and serving static and dynamic content.

What is Apache Web Server?

Apache Web Server, also known as Apache HTTP Server, is a powerful and widely-used open-source web server software. It is designed to serve static content efficiently and handle a large number of concurrent connections.

The primary purpose of the Apache Web Server is to deliver HTML files, images, CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, and other static resources to clients’ browsers over the internet. It supports various operating systems such as Linux, Windows, macOS, etc., making it highly versatile.

Differences between Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server


  • Apache Tomcat: Primarily serves as a Java-based application server for running servlets and JSPs.
  • Apache Web Server: Specializes in serving static content like HTML files, images, CSS stylesheets, etc.

Protocol Support

  • Apache Tomcat: Supports HTTP, HTTPS, and AJP (Apache JServ Protocol).
  • Apache Web Server: Supports HTTP and HTTPS.


  • Apache Tomcat: Requires Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to run Java-based web applications.
  • Apache Web Server: Can be used with any programming language and does not require a JVM.

Serving Dynamic Content

  • Apache Tomcat: Executes Java code embedded in servlets and JSPs to generate dynamic content.
  • Apache Web Server: Can use server-side scripting languages like PHP, Perl, or CGI to generate dynamic content.

In Conclusion

In summary, while both Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server are popular choices for deploying web applications, they have different purposes and functionalities. Apache Tomcat is primarily used for running Java-based web applications using servlets and JSPs, while Apache Web Server excels in serving static content efficiently. Understanding the differences between these two servers will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right one for your specific requirements.

If you are looking to deploy a Java-based application that requires an application server, Apache Tomcat would be a suitable choice. On the other hand, if your focus is on serving static files or using server-side scripting languages like PHP or Perl, then Apache Web Server would be more appropriate.


This article is meant to provide an overview of the differences between Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server. It is always recommended to refer to the official documentation and conduct further research to gain a deeper understanding of these servers’ features and capabilities.

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