What Are the Differences Between Apache Web Server and Tomcat Web Server?


Scott Campbell

Apache Web Server and Tomcat Web Server are two widely used web servers in the world of web development. While both serve the same purpose of hosting websites, there are several key differences between them. In this article, we will explore these differences in detail.

Difference in Functionality

Apache is a powerful and versatile web server that can handle a wide range of tasks. It is primarily designed to serve static content, such as HTML files, images, and CSS files. However, it can also be configured to support dynamic content through the use of modules like PHP or Perl.

On the other hand, Tomcat is specifically built to handle Java-based web applications. It is a servlet container that provides an environment for running Java Servlets and JavaServer Pages (JSP). Tomcat can execute Java bytecode and process requests from clients accordingly.


Apache follows a modular architecture where functionality can be added or removed by enabling or disabling modules. This modular design allows Apache to be highly customizable and scalable. It also supports various programming languages and protocols.

Tomcat, on the other hand, follows a more monolithic architecture as it focuses exclusively on Java-based technologies. It has an integrated servlet container and supports Java Servlets, JSPs, WebSocket protocols, and more.


In terms of performance, Apache is known for its speed and efficiency when serving static content. It has been optimized over years of development to handle high traffic loads effectively. Apache’s event-driven architecture ensures efficient resource utilization.

Tomcat performs well when it comes to dynamic content generation with Java technologies. Since it is designed specifically for running servlets and JSPs, it excels at executing server-side code written in Java. However, it may not be as efficient as Apache when serving static files.

Configuration and Administration

Apache provides a wide range of configuration options, allowing administrators to fine-tune its behavior according to their specific needs. Its configuration files are written in plain text, making it easy to understand and modify. Additionally, Apache has a vast community and extensive documentation, making it easier to find solutions to common issues.

Tomcat also offers configuration options but is generally considered more complex than Apache. Its configuration files are written in XML, which can be more challenging for beginners. Tomcat requires additional knowledge of Java web application deployment and management.

Usage Scenarios

Apache is the preferred choice for serving static content and acting as a reverse proxy or load balancer. It is commonly used in combination with other web servers or application servers like Tomcat or Nginx. Apache’s versatility makes it suitable for hosting both small personal websites and large enterprise applications.

Tomcat is best suited for hosting Java-based web applications that rely heavily on servlets and JSPs. It provides features like session management, clustering, and connection pooling specifically designed for Java web development.

In conclusion,

Apache Web Server excels at serving static content, offers extensive customization options, and supports various programming languages and protocols.

Tomcat Web Server, on the other hand, specializes in running Java-based web applications with its integrated servlet container and optimized support for Java technologies.

  • In summary:
  • – Apache: versatile, handles static content efficiently
  • – Tomcat: tailored for Java-based web applications

Depending on your specific requirements and expertise, you can choose the web server that best suits your needs. Both Apache and Tomcat have their strengths and are widely adopted in the web development community.

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