Is HTTP Server Same as Web Server?


Larry Thompson

Is HTTP Server Same as Web Server?

When it comes to understanding the workings of the internet, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the different components that make it all possible. Two terms that often cause confusion are HTTP server and web server. While these terms are related, they are not the same thing.

HTTP Server

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is a protocol used for transmitting hypermedia documents, such as HTML, over the internet.

An HTTP server refers to software that understands and implements this protocol. It listens for incoming HTTP requests and responds with the appropriate content.

An HTTP server is responsible for processing client requests and delivering the requested resources, such as HTML files, images, or videos. It receives requests from clients (usually web browsers) and sends back responses containing the requested data.

Web Server

A web server, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses more than just handling HTTP requests. It refers to software or hardware that serves content over the internet. While an HTTP server is a type of web server, not all web servers exclusively use HTTP.

A web server can handle various protocols other than HTTP, such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), or even SSH (Secure Shell). For example, if you have ever accessed an FTP site or sent an email using SMTP, you were interacting with a web server.

Differences Between HTTP Server and Web Server

To summarize:

  • An HTTP server specifically handles requests made using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
  • A web server is a broader term that includes any software or hardware serving content over the internet.

So, while every HTTP server is a web server, not every web server is exclusively an HTTP server.


Understanding the distinction between an HTTP server and a web server is crucial for anyone working with internet technologies. While they are related concepts, they have different functionalities and serve different purposes. An HTTP server specifically handles requests made using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, while a web server encompasses a broader range of protocols.

Next time you come across these terms, you’ll be able to differentiate between them and have a clearer understanding of their roles in the world of web development.

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