What NGINX is, how it works and why you should use it – WAU

NGINX is a high performance open source web server that delivers static content from a website quickly and easily to set up. It offers load balancing, reverse proxy and streaming capabilities, as well as managing thousands of simultaneous connections. The result of this is greater speed and scalability.

If you want a web server where you don’t have to worry about the amount of simultaneous connections made to the site, then you need to know NGINX. In fact, this is just one of its many features, as it also offers features like HTTP load balancer, reverse proxy and more.

According to data from the statistical comparison regarding the use of web servers made by the W3Techs website, NGINX is in second place, with 30.7% of sites using this technology.

Apache has 43.1% and Microsoft IIS, 8%. It is an excellent position, since it has been on the market for much less time than the other options.

So that you understand why NGINX keeps growing and learn how to create a website that processes multiple simultaneous connections, we made this post with the following topics:

Want to know more about this technology? Read on!

What is NGINX?

NGINX is an open source, high performance web server. It features an advanced event-based architecture – EBA, or Event-based Architecture. This feature allows numerous simultaneous connections, which provides more speed and scalability.

NGINX delivers the static content of the website quickly, is easy to configure and has low resource consumption. Because of all these features, the server is used by large companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, WordPress.org, among others.

When did it come and who launched it?

Its developer was software engineer Igor Sysoev, who wrote NGINX in C in 2002. The correct pronunciation of the server name is “Engine-X” and its first public version was released in 2004.

The challenge, known as C10K, was to create a web server that could handle 10,000 connections simultaneously to deliver a product that would be able to work with the reference foreseen for the modern web, however, with the digital transformation that number has become even greater.

How does NGINX work?

Web requests on other servers, such as Apache, work individually, that is, the user requests a page through the HTTP or HTTPS Protocol, which processes and returns the result. This process is called an individual thread, which is made for each request requested from the server.

NGINX works based on events. So, instead of making a direct request to the server, it runs a master process, called worker, and several worker processes, called worker connections. All this process works continuously and asynchronously.

Thus, when there is a processing request, it is done by the worker connections, which make the request to the master process, which in turn processes and returns the result. This functionality allows the handling of numerous simultaneous connections, as each worker connection is capable of processing 1024 requests.

When the server is operating, each worker carries a chain of modules, depending on how the configuration is done during installation. In this way, each request is made with all the features configured in operation.

how it works

What are the features of NGINX?

NGINX has a extensible modular architecture, which facilitates the extension of resources for those who want to work on their source code. The main module is responsible for handling the connection and, in addition, there is a series of modules for different types of processing. Check out some of them.

Load balancing

Load balancing is an extremely important feature for anyone who needs a website with high availability, as it allows the distribution of service requests among servers.

Thus, when there is an increase in requests to the server, such as increased traffic, NGINX is able to direct the flow to other servers that are in the configuration file.

There are three possibilities for load distribution on the NGINX. It can be done equally among the configured servers, be distributed to the server that has few connections at the moment or it is possible to determine the IP address of each client for each specific server.

When using load balancing and Google Analytics, it is necessary to make the tracking code go through all the servers used. For this, it is necessary to use the reverse proxy feature to make the Analytics configuration file available. This way, whenever a request is made, the corresponding HTTP headers will be updated.

Reverse proxy

Before talking about reverse proxy, let’s briefly explain what a proxy is. In practice, it works as a intermediate server between computers on a network and the web server. It is used as a page cache, in order to save bandwidth resources and speed up loading.

The reverse proxy, on the other hand, is a web server that receives connection requests and manages what will be required on the main server or checks whether the request is already available in cache. NGINX therefore offers this feature, which can be easily configured in its configuration file.


Another feature of NGINX is to offer a native module for streaming. Therefore, it allows a series of settings on how the server will handle MP4 and FLV content, such as the size of the buffer used, the timeout time, etc.

Why use the NGINX web server?

The server offers a number of features, which turn into several benefits when used on a website. See why use NGINX!


Because its architecture is based on events, requests to the server are made faster, as there is a better utilization of memory and CPU resources. In addition, it offers excellent performance when making available static files, such as documents, images, HTML files, among others.


By offering features such as load balancing, the server allows rapid escalation of requests in different situations. Thus, it is an excellent alternative to use in cloud applications.


Another benefit of using the server is its compatibility with the various web applications used in the market, such as WordPress, Joomla, Python, among others.

Easy setup

The server configuration process is simple, as it works based on policies that must be specified in the configuration file.

What are the differences between NGINX and Apache?

O Apache is the main competitor of NGINX, used in 43.1% of the sites, according to the survey mentioned above. There are some differences between the two servers and you need to know them to make a good choice.

Operating system compatibility

Both servers work in UNIX-based environments, such as LINUX and its variations. Regarding the Windows platform, NGINX has lower performance in this environment.


Apache configuration is done in a decentralized way, that is, it uses the “.htaccess” file spread in application directories and the loading of its modules is done at run time. In NGINX, settings are centralized in the “nginx.conf” file and its modules are loaded dynamically.


The great advantage of NGINX is its ability to operate with thousands of simultaneous connections, with twice the speed needed in Apache and, still, consuming less memory for static content. With respect to dynamic content, the two servers are equivalent.

NGINX is a web server that offers numerous features, such as load balancing, reverse proxy, and more. Its use provides many benefits to a website, such as greater speed, scalability and high availability. In addition, it is easy to configure and compatible with the main applications used in the market.

Now that you know what to evaluate when choosing a web server, download our WordPress Guide for Corporate Blogs and see how to generate more opportunities for your business!