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I consider myself to be an inexperienced user/administrator when it comes to running my VPS. I can get by with a few CLI commands, I can set up Webmin and I can set up Yum repos, but beyond the very basic stuff, I'm out of my depth.

So far, I'm running Apache. I don't know it particularly well, but I can get by with editing httpd.conf if I'm told what to edit.

I've heard good things about Nginx and that it's not as resource-hungry as Apache. I'd like to give it a go, but I can't find any information about its suitability for administrators like me, with little experience of sysadmin or web server config.

Webmin now has support for Nginx, so getting it installed and running probably won't be too much of a problem. What I'm wondering is, from a site administrator perspective, is running Nginx as transparent as running Apache? IE, at the moment, I can just throw up Wordpress and Drupal sites without having much to worry about or having to make any config changes to Apache. Would Nginx be as transparent?

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Just to let you know if any of your scripts running on Apache use .htaccess for rewriting you'll have to get someone to convert the apache rewrites to NGINX. You can find cheap administrator on freelance sites. But what will you really save with NGINX vs Apache on VPS. Run vmstat see what your resources are on Apache and do the same once running NGINX if you can at least and see if its worth running. –  Anagio Jun 27 '12 at 8:10
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closed as not constructive by Anagio, John Conde Jun 27 '12 at 14:26

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3 Answers

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I've been using Apache for the last several years, because it is easy to use and configure, runs smoothly over vast networks, and has many available modules to perform various tasks.

Apache is process-based, and nginx is event-based. This means, it doesn't need to create a new thread for each thing it has to process.

Keeping it short, I think you're best off (if things work properly) sticking with Apache. You can always set up a second server with Nginx and slowly migrate the site(s) and services over.

The only thing I ever use Nginx for is creating reverse proxies to route Apache-served content from local servers to the outside world. Nginx is also better at mitigating DOS (Denial of Service) attacks. Rather than create an unmanageable number of threads like Apache tends to, it drops the requests.

Overall, it really depends what kind of traffic you're getting on your server, and if it would help at all to make the switch.

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I just started using Nginx and consider it easier to set up than apache. I'm with you, pretty inexperienced with setting up web servers, but have done a few for my own business. Fire up an Amazon EC2 instance and try it out for yourself.

Google got me the answers I needed pretty quickly. It was far easier to set up virtual hosting in nginx than Apache, imho.

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I used lighttpd for a year and love the simplicity of the configuration files. It runs very light and does not require a separate service (php-fpm) like nginx.

However due to my curiosity I have recently changed to nginx and the config syntax is much like perl. It is scary at first coming from lighttpd, but if you take a deep breath and give it a shot you'll start to feel comfortable with the syntax/config. From there you can expand your configuration. One of the great things I've noticed with nginx is the reverse proxy capabilities. Reverse proxy on nginx is powerful.

Lighttpd also had reverse proxy capability and it is still a great web server, but nginx is updated much more frequently and lighttpd is sort of losing it's prime. Sorry for talking about lighttpd I know you specifically asked about apache & nginx but I just would like to let you know about lighttpd incase you have not heard of it.

I reccomend nginx for the low memory footprint and ease of configuration comparing it to apache. Apache is great don't get me wrong but I think when it comes down to it use what you feel comfortable with. Try out apache & nginx. Apache is powerful but seems "slow" to me as starting the service and difficult to manage vhosts. It just isn't as simple as with nginx/lightty.

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