What Is Web Server and Application Server With Example?


Larry Thompson

A web server and an application server are two essential components in the architecture of a web-based application. While both servers play critical roles in delivering web applications, they have distinct functionalities and purposes. In this article, we will explore what web servers and application servers are, their differences, and provide examples to help you understand their significance.

Web Server

A web server is a software or hardware that handles HTTP requests and responses. It acts as an intermediary between the client (usually a web browser) and the application server, serving static content such as HTML files, images, CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, etc.

Example: Let’s consider an example where you visit a website like www.example.com. When you enter the URL in your browser and hit enter, your browser sends an HTTP request to the web server associated with www.

The web server processes the request and responds by sending back the requested resources (HTML file, images, etc.) to your browser.

Application Server

An application server is responsible for executing dynamic code to generate content that is specific to each user request. It handles business logic processing, database interactions, session management, security enforcement, and more.

Example: Suppose you are using an online shopping website where you search for products using specific criteria. When you enter your search parameters and click on the “Search” button, your request is sent to the application server.

The application server receives your request, processes it by querying the database for relevant products based on your criteria and generates a dynamic HTML page with search results. This HTML page is then sent back to your browser via the web server for display.

Differences between Web Server and Application Server

1. Functionality:

  • A web server primarily serves static content like HTML, images, CSS, JS files.
  • An application server executes dynamic code and generates customized content based on user requests.

2. Processing:

  • A web server processes HTTP requests and responses.
  • An application server handles business logic, database interactions, session management, etc.

3. Examples:

  • Web Server Example: Apache HTTP Server, Nginx.
  • Application Server Example: Java EE servers like Apache Tomcat, JBoss/WildFly, IBM WebSphere.


In summary, a web server acts as an intermediary between clients and servers to serve static content, while an application server executes dynamic code to generate customized content based on user requests. Both servers play vital roles in delivering web applications efficiently. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for building scalable and robust web-based applications.

I hope this article has provided you with a clear understanding of what web servers and application servers are and how they function. Remember to choose the appropriate server based on your application’s requirements to ensure optimal performance and user experience!

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