August 2019 Web Server Survey

In the August 2019 survey we received responses from 1,271,920,923 sites across 239,441,736 unique domain names and 8,948,887 web-facing computers. This reflects a large loss of 124 million sites, but a gain of 1.30 million domains and 10,700 computers.

All major vendors lost active sites this month, and of those, only Google made a gain in sites (+1.58 million). Microsoft lost the largest number of active sites (-2.03 million), while nginx lost the most sites (-81.4 million, -16.9%) but remains in the lead with a 31.6% share of all sites.

Despite losing so many sites, nginx showed the strongest growth in unique domains, web-facing computers, and among the top million sites. This bears more significance than the more unpredictable changes in the site counts, which are prone to fluctuations month-on-month as link farms, spam networks and other low-value web content comes and goes.

With a gain of 58,500 web-facing computers, nginx now has more than 31% of the computer market share – just 5.39 percentage points behind Apache – while Microsoft has lost 65,000 computers. As is evident in the graphs, counting web-facing computers provides the most stable metric and makes long term trends easy to spot. In particular, the clear and consistent rise in nginx’s market share and the steady decline of Apache makes it hard not to imagine nginx taking the market lead from Apache by early next year.

The number of top-million websites powered by nginx has increased by 1,292, while Apache’s count fell by 3,101. Apache maintains the lead in this market, but is now only 5.92 percentage points ahead of nginx. Apache also continues to lead in terms of unique domains, despite losing 784,000 this month. It has a similar lead over nginx, which is now only 5.32 percentage points behind Apache after gaining 753,000 domains.

Microsoft lost counts in almost all metrics this month, apart from where it gained 166,000 domains, although this still resulted in a small drop in its domain market share. The sites market is the only one where its share did not fall, despite losing 16.6 million sites.

Netflix finds nginx vulnerabilities

nginx 1.61.1 stable and nginx 1.17.3 mainline were released on 13th August, in order to address three HTTP/2 security issues that could cause excessive memory consumption and CPU usage. All versions between 1.9.5 – 1.17.2 are affected, but only if HTTP/2 is enabled. These security issues were discovered by Jonathan Looney at Netflix, which chose to use nginx when developing its own globally distributed content delivery network, known as Netflix Open Connect.

The content delivery network consists of Open Connect Appliances, which run the FreeBSD operating system and use nginx to stream audio and video directly to Netflix customers. Most of this content is served from appliances hosted by ISPs, rather than across the internet, which leads to better performance whilst vastly reducing the amount of peered traffic when huge numbers of customers worldwide stream a popular show at the same time. Thousands of ISPs have enthusiastically participated in this program because it is free to connect to the Open Connect network, and it prevents Netflix traffic from taking up a significant amount of an ISP’s internet capacity.

FreeBSD is dying?!

Netflix chose FreeBSD for its balance of stability and features (as did Netcraft once upon a time), but it is becoming an increasingly less common frontend operating system on the web as a whole. Only 60,200 (0.67%) web-facing computers are running FreeBSD today. To put this into perspective, more than twice as many servers are still running Windows Server 2003, even though it has not been supported for several years.

Linux is by far the most commonly used operating system for web-facing computers. It is installed on 6.64 million (74.2%) servers, and at least 1.05 million of these can be positively identified as running the Ubuntu distribution.

Naturally, the choice of operating system depends to some extent on what type of web server will be running on it, and vice versa. For example, it is no surprise that most instances of Microsoft IIS can be found running on Windows Server, and most instances of Windows Server are used to run Microsoft IIS; but it is clear that the Linux operating system is especially favoured for some web servers. Between 92% and 96% of all web-facing computers that use each of nginx, Apache, Litespeed and lighttpd can be found running Linux.

AWS ELB overtakes Beaver

The awselb (Amazon Web Services Elastic Load Balancing) web server was found on 69,800 web-facing computers this month, overtaking Beaver to become the fourth most commonly used frontend server by computers. Practically all of these machines appear to be running Linux, and are responsible for hosting 464,000 sites across 48,500 unique domains.

ELB achieves fault tolerance and scalability by automatically distributing incoming application traffic across multiple targets – and can even spread it across multiple AWS Availability Zones – so the 69,800 AWS ELB servers exposed to the internet are likely to be only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the AWS infrastructure used by each website.

Total number of websites

Web server market share

Developer July 2019 Percent August 2019 Percent Change
nginx 482,877,275 34.59% 401,454,029 31.56% -3.03
Apache 387,366,826 27.75% 374,277,243 29.43% 1.68
Microsoft 203,673,344 14.59% 187,109,423 14.71% 0.12
Google 29,385,065 2.11% 30,969,259 2.43% 0.33
Web server market share for active sites

Developer July 2019 Percent August 2019 Percent Change
Apache 56,937,841 29.91% 55,570,824 30.42% 0.51
nginx 37,218,850 19.55% 35,295,177 19.32% -0.23
Google 16,266,687 8.54% 15,748,171 8.62% 0.08
Microsoft 11,308,526 5.94% 9,274,322 5.08% -0.86

For more information see Active Sites

Web server market share for top million busiest sites

Developer July 2019 Percent August 2019 Percent Change
Apache 317,735 31.77% 314,634 31.46% -0.31
nginx 254,154 25.42% 255,446 25.54% 0.13
Microsoft 83,811 8.38% 82,968 8.30% -0.08
LiteSpeed 17,580 1.76% 17,695 1.77% 0.01
Web server market share for computers

Developer July 2019 Percent August 2019 Percent Change
Apache 3,256,546 36.43% 3,259,385 36.42% -0.01
nginx 2,718,488 30.41% 2,777,032 31.03% 0.62
Microsoft 1,629,529 18.23% 1,564,530 17.48% -0.75
Web server market share for domains

Developer July 2019 Percent August 2019 Percent Change
Apache 73,631,312 30.92% 72,847,217 30.42% -0.49
nginx 59,343,533 24.92% 60,096,728 25.10% 0.18
Microsoft 49,917,660 20.96% 50,083,525 20.92% -0.04
Google 2,294,579 0.96% 2,300,656 0.96% -0.00
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