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Nginx vs Tomcat: Head to Head Comparison

In this article, I take a deep dive into two of the most sought after web servers, Nginx vs Tomcat.

Nginx is an open-source, free, and feature-rich web server. It processes static and dynamic requests using an asynchronous and event-driven method, which is similar to that of Apache. It is capable of processing several requests at the same time while consuming the least amount of hardware and memory.

As a result of its flexible and high-end architecture, it is able to handle a large and fluctuating load with relative ease. It utilizes a load balancer to manage huge request volumes from web-based apps.

The Apache Software Foundation maintains Tomcat, an open-source, high-performance HTTP server that is used to serve HTTP requests. Tomcat is used to serve HTTP requests. Tomcat is widely regarded as among the most secure and effective web servers in existence that deals with HTTP inquiry.

You do not need a particular operating system as it is compatible with all, including the editions of Unix, and it perfectly aligns with Windows operating system. Over time, Apache Software Foundation has produced and launched numerous versions of Apache, each demonstrating new methods for processing requests more efficiently and securely.

Nginx can equally be utilized as a mail proxy, load balancer, reverse proxy, and HTTP cache, among other things. Igor Sysoev developed the program, but it wasn’t open to public use until 2004. This happened because it was created primarily for the use of the military.


Users can get Nginx at no cost. It is an open-source web server that is distributed under the provisions of the BSD license, which has two clauses. NGINX is used by a substantial percentage of web servers, and it is frequently used as a load balancer.

Unifying and Simplifying Application Delivery Operations with NGINX Controller (Subtitled)

In 2011, a company with the same name was established to provide support as well as the Nginx Plus premium software.

The Nginx was bought by F5 Networks in early 2019 for a sum of $670 million.
From Netcraft estimation, we found out that as of January 2021 24.63 percent of the busiest one million websites used Apache. On the other hand, 23.21 percent used Nginx.

Microsoft came a distant third with 6.85 percent of users (although Nginx beats Apache in a few other Netcraft’s statistics), but then, in the W3Techs ranking, Apache comes first with 35.0 percent, Nginx is second with 33.0 percent, and Cloudflare Server is third with 17.3 percent.

If we consider Netcraft’s November 2016 online Server Survey, the Apache Nginx webserver was ranked as the second commonly used web server throughout all “active” websites with 18 percent of the sites that were surveyed. It also had 28 percent of the busiest one million websites users.

About 380,000 websites of the top 1 million employed this technology. Furthermore, 50,000 of the biggest 100,000 sites, and more than 5,700 of the biggest 10,000 sites, according to W3Techs research.

According to the results of a 2018 survey showing Docker utilization, Nginx was revealed to be the most widely used technology in Docker containers.

Nginx was first included in OpenBSD version 5.2 in November of 2012, serving as a replacement for the Apache 1.3 version, which was created to succeed. However, in its version 5.6 created in November of 2014, it was taken out in favor of OpenBSD’s own HTTP server, which is now deprecated.

Features of an HTTP proxy and a Web server:-

  1. The ability to handle more than 10,000 simultaneous connections while maintaining a minimal memory footprint (2.5 megabytes for 10k inert HTTP keep-alive contacts) is demonstrated.
  2. Auto-indexing and running of static documents, index documents, and other related files.
  3. With caching, a reverse proxy is used.
  4. Load balancing and in-band health checks are included.
  5. TLS/SSL with support for SNI and OCSP stapling, provided by OpenSSL.
  6. Support for FastCGI, SCGI, and uWSGI, as well as caching.
  7. Support for gRPC has been available since March 2018, version 1.13.10.
  8. Virtual servers that are based on names and IP addresses.
  9. IPv6-compatible.
  10. Since version 1.3.13, WebSockets have performed a variety of functions, including operating as a reverse proxy and performing load balancing for WebSocket applications.
  11. Upgrade to HTTP/1.1 (101 Switching Protocols), and support for the HTTP/2 protocol.
  12. URL rewriting and redirection are two methods of achieving this.

In comparison; Nginx vs Tomcat 


Nginx is a web server that was created with the sole objective of outperforming the widely used Apache webserver. With static files as its default configuration, Nginx consumes far less RAM than Apache and can handle nearly four times the number of requests per second.

Nginx vs Tomcat 

However, this increase in performance comes at the expense of increased flexibility, such as the ability to change system-wide access settings on a per-file basis, which was previously available (Apache accomplishes this with a .htaccess file, while Nginx has no such feature built-in).

Nginx also has a reputation for being more difficult to install and configure than Apache, according to some.

It was previously necessary to recompile the program from source with the third-party modules statically linked in order to integrate them into Nginx.

The inclusion of active module loading in the 1.9 model, released in February 2016, helped to mitigate this issue to some extent. It is still necessary to compile the modules alongside Nginx, and not all modules are compatible with this approach; some require the older static linking technique, which is not supported by this system.

Nginx is typically regarded as less stable on Windows Server than it is on Linux, although Apache is believed to be equally stable on both platforms.

What is Nginx | easy way

Apache Tomcat:-

Apache Tomcat comes at no cost and it is an open-source utilization of the WebSocket technologies, Jakarta Servlet, Jakarta Expression Language, Jakarta Expression Language, and Apache Tomcat (often known as “Tomcat” for short) is available from the Apache Software Foundation. Tomcat is an HTTP web server environment that is “pure Java,” meaning that Java code can run in it.

Developed and maintained by an open group of programmers under the aegis of the Apache Software Foundation and released under the Apache License 2.0 license, Tomcat is a web application server.


With the release of Tomcat 4.x, the servlet container Catalina, the HTTP connector Coyote, and the Jasper framework were all included (a JSP engine).

1. Catalina

This is the servlet container used by Tomcat. Catalina implements the requirements for servlets and JavaServer Pages developed by Sun Microsystems (JSP). Tomcat’s realm element represents an “information store” comprising usernames, passwords, and responsibilities (which are analogous to Unix groups) that have been allocated to those users.

Catalina can be assimilated into terrain where verification information is already being made and supported, and then the information is used to execute Container-Managed Security as expressed in the Servlet classification. Different implementations of Realm enable this integration.

Web server using the HTTP 1.1 and HTTP 2 protocols, Coyote is a plug-in for Tomcat that enables the HTTP 1.1 and HTTP 2 codes. The ability to act as a basic web server, while officially acting as a Java Servlet or JSP container, allows Catalina to do additional functions such as serving local files as HTTP documents.

2. Coyote

This is software that listens on a TCP port for incoming connections and forwards them to the Tomcat Engine, which processes them and replies to the client who initiated the connection.

3. Jasper

is the JSP Engine used by Tomcat. Jasper analyzes JSP documents and assembles them into Java code, then it is deployed as servlets in a form that Catalina can handle. Jasper identifies alterations to JSP documents and rearranges them when they are completed.

At the time of this writing, Tomcat is using Jasper 2, which is an execution of the JSP 2.0 classification created by Sun Microsystems. Important features were added between Jasper and Jasper 2. These are some examples:

Using a tag handler class to handle each markup in a JSP file is referred to as JSP tag library pooling. Objects of the tag handler class can be pooled and reused across the whole JSP servlet.

While the new JSP Java code is being built, the old JSP Java code remains accessible for server demands. After the new JSP servlet has been compiled, the old JSP servlet is removed.

When a page that is included in JSP changes, the JSP must be recompiled. Users would be able to include and insert Pages in a JSP at any point in time. Not only will the JSP be recompiled with the JSP file modifications, but it will also be recompiled with the included page changes.

You can substitute Ant and javac with the Eclipse JDT (Java Development Tools) Java compiler in Jasper 2, this is quicker and more dependable.

4. Cluster

This component has been included to help with the management of large-scale applications. There is a possibility of deploying it for load balancing, and this can be done by employing a series of strategies. For the time being, clustering support is only available with JDK 1.5 or higher.

5. The high degree of availability

A high-availability functionality has been added to make it easier to schedule system upgrades (e.g., new versions, change demands) this way, you don’t have to be bothered about the terrain being disturbed.

When this occurs, real traffic requests are sent to a temporary server running on a separate port while the main server is being upgraded on the primary port. It is extremely handy for dealing with user requests on web applications that receive a lot of traffic.

Important Differences: Nginx and Tomcat

Some of the most significant differences between the Nginx and Tomcat servers are discussed in greater detail below:

Compared to Apache Tomcat, which is an HTTP web server that is primarily built to handle Java servlets, Nginx is a reverse proxy server that is free, open-source, efficient, and extremely high-performance, as well as a web server.

Due to the fact that Apache Tomcat is developed and maintained by one of the most well-known software organizations in the world (the Apache Software Foundation), all bug fixes, issues, and maintenance are reported through various channels and are handled by a large community of users all over the world.

In addition to third-party companies such as Open Logic, commercial assistance for Apache is available, although all concerns relating to Nginx are handled by a company with the same name, Nginx Plus, which was created in 2011 and specializes in the Apache webserver.

Users, on the other hand, can publish their questions through a variety of third-party channels. It also provides numerous in-house training sessions and tutorials, as well as videos and other material, on a variety of topics to help employees have a better understanding of the subject matter.

One of the most significant distinctions between Nginx and Apache Tomcat is the manner in which these two servers handle requests.

To put it another way, Nginx has a fantastic ability to handle multiple client requests at the same time, and it does so with the least amount of use of hardware resources; on the other hand, Tomcat is unable to handle multiple requests at the same time, but it does so by utilizing a large number of multiprocessing modules to handle the requests.

When there are plenty of client requests, Nginx’s asynchronous and event-driven model is used, and it provides high performance to the user even in the face of high traffic. In contrast, Apache Tomcat employs the multi-threaded approach, which is not efficient enough and thus does not scale well with the number of requests.

Even though Nginx can serve static and dynamic content utilizing the FastCGI, SCGI, and other similar technologies very easily and quickly, the performance of Apache Tomcat when dealing with static content is significantly slower and lower than that of Nginx.

An advantage of Apache Tomcat’s web server is that it has the capacity to can handle multiple file types including static HTML, JSON, XML. It does this by using dynamic files on the webserver itself and also a few conventional techniques. Nginx on the other hand can serve static material efficiently but is unable to serve dynamic content internally.

It makes use of an external source to carry out the execution of dynamic files.

It is critical to comprehend the differences between them in order to have a clear and in-depth understanding of the subject matter. 

Nginx vs Tomcat Points to Note

In this section, you will find a comparison table that shows a head-to-head comparison, Nginx vs Tomcat servers:

1. Nginx is a web server that may be used to process both static and dynamic content, as well as to operate as a reverse proxy.

Tomcat is a servlet container that is used to deliver Java servlets, and it is based on the Apache webserver.

2. Ngnix only provides limited support for Windows, and it is designed to run on current Unix-like operating systems.

Tomcat on the other hand is capable of running on all Unix-like computers and also provides complete support for Windows.

3. The ability to load dynamic content natively is not possible in terms of Flexibility. It enables the administrator to compile the modules in Nginx binary form initially.

When it comes to flexibility, Apache Tomcat takes the lead since it supports dynamic module loading and allows dynamic material to be processed easily within the webserver environment.

With Apache Tomcat, module writing is a very simple process and this makes customization possible.

4. The event-driven and asynchronous approaches are used by Nginx in order to handle the requests from the clients.

When it comes to processing client requests, Apache Tomcat employs a multi-threaded architecture.

5. Nginx performs significantly better than Apache Tomcat in terms of performance. It is capable of handling several requests for both static and dynamic information at the same time while using the least amount of memory.

When it comes to dealing with static data, the Apache server performs much worse than Nginx, despite its superb performance when dealing with Java servlets.

6. Nginx may be used as an effective load balancer, distributing traffic to the many application servers and, as a result, improving the performance and scalability of web-based systems.

Because of the high volume of requests, Apache Tomcat is unable to manage numerous requests at the same time.

7. In Nginx, several connections can be processed by a single thread, which saves time.

A single connection can be processed by a single thread in Apache Tomcat, and only one thread can be used for this purpose.

Conclusion; Nginx vs Tomcat

The Nginx and Tomcat servers, as well as the fundamental differences between the two, are thoroughly explained in the preceding description. Both the Apache Tomcat and the Nginx web servers are useful for different things; if you need to deal with a lot of static content, Nginx is the way to go.

However, when it comes to dealing with dynamic information, both programs perform admirably, with Apache Tomcat performing particularly well. It is dependent on the user’s requirements, and