What Is Difference Between Web Server and Application Server?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Difference Between a Web Server and an Application Server?

When it comes to web development, understanding the difference between a web server and an application server is crucial. While they both play important roles in serving web applications, they have distinct functionalities and purposes. In this article, we will dive into the details of these two server types and explore their differences.

Web Server

A web server is a software or hardware that handles HTTP requests from clients, such as web browsers, and responds with HTML documents or other static content. Its primary function is to deliver web pages to users over the internet. Here are some key characteristics of a web server:

  • HTTP Protocol: Web servers communicate with clients using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
  • Static Content: They are designed to serve static content like HTML files, CSS stylesheets, images, and JavaScript files.
  • No Processing Logic: Web servers do not execute any business logic or process dynamic content. They simply fetch and deliver files requested by clients.
  • Famous Examples: Apache HTTP Server and Nginx are popular open-source web servers.

Application Server

An application server, on the other hand, is responsible for executing business logic and processing dynamic content. It provides a runtime environment for running web applications. Here are some key characteristics of an application server:

  • Serves Dynamic Content: Application servers can generate dynamic content by executing code written in languages like Java, PHP, Python, or .NET.
  • Supports Middleware: They offer services like database connectivity, security, session management, and messaging to facilitate application development.
  • Handles Business Logic: Application servers process requests by executing server-side code, interacting with databases, and performing complex operations.
  • Famous Examples: Apache Tomcat, JBoss/WildFly, and Microsoft IIS are well-known application servers.

Differences in Functionality

The main difference between a web server and an application server lies in their functionality. A web server primarily serves static content over HTTP, while an application server executes business logic and serves dynamic content. Here’s a summary of the key distinctions:

  • A web server delivers static files like HTML, CSS, and images.
  • An application server processes requests by executing code written in various programming languages.
  • A web server focuses on handling HTTP requests and responses.
  • An application server provides a runtime environment for executing web applications.
  • A web server is typically used in simple websites or as part of a larger architecture with an application server behind it.
  • An application server is suitable for complex enterprise-level applications that require extensive processing logic.


In summary, a web server and an application server serve different purposes in the web development landscape. While a web server focuses on delivering static content over HTTP, an application server executes business logic and serves dynamic content by processing requests. Understanding these differences will help you choose the appropriate infrastructure for your specific project requirements.

Discord Server - Web Server - Private Server - DNS Server - Object-Oriented Programming - Scripting - Data Types - Data Structures

Privacy Policy