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What is a Web Server?

A web server is a computer system that hosts websites and delivers web pages to users via the internet. It processes incoming network requests over HTTP and several other related protocols. The primary function is to store, process, and deliver web pages to clients. Common web servers include Apache, NGINX, and Microsoft’s IIS.

Think of a web server as a gigantic, virtual library. This library houses countless books, which in this case, are the websites that you visit daily. When you want to read a book (or load a webpage), you don’t go to the library yourself. Instead, you send a request through your browser.

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Note: The page is part of the browser vocabulary to help you understand technical terms.

In this guide, I have shared written instruction about:

How Does a Web Server Work?

The process begins when you type a URL into your browser. Your browser acts as your personal librarian, and it sends a request to the web server that hosts the website you want to access. This request is like asking the librarian for a particular book.

The web server, being the efficient librarian, finds the requested website in its vast storage. It then sends the data back to your browser, just like a librarian handing over the book you requested. Your browser receives the data and displays the webpage for you to view.

This process, known as the HTTP protocol, is how your browser and the web server communicate to deliver websites to you.

An Easy-to-Understand Example

Imagine you’re at home (your computer), and you want to read a specific book (a website). You dial the library’s number (type in a URL), and the librarian (webserver) picks up the phone. You ask for the book (send a request), and the librarian finds the book in the library (the server’s storage) and delivers it to your house (sends the data to your browser).

Once you receive the book (the data), you can read it (browse the website).

Bottom Line

A web server is a crucial part of your online experience, even if it operates behind the scenes. Without it, accessing the wealth of information and entertainment found on the internet wouldn’t be possible.

Understanding the role of web servers gives you a deeper appreciation of the intricate network of systems that work together to bring the web to life right on your screen.

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Kushal Azza

Kushal Azza

Kushal Azza is a Google Certified Analytics & IT Professional, Digital Content Creator, and Go-To Digital Marketer with an Engineering Degree. He has over a decade of experience solving tech problems, troubleshooting, and innovating digital solutions. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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