Choosing the Best Web Server in 2024 - Comparing Apache, NGINX, LiteSpeed, OpenLiteSpeed, and Caddy

Selecting the right web server for your website is crucial, but with tons of options out there like Apache, NGINX, LiteSpeed, OpenLiteSpeed, and Caddy, the choice can be rather difficult. Let us help you with that.

Publish date: 2/5/2024

Picking the right web server for your website is crucial; it impacts your site's performance, security, and reliability... so basically, everything that's important.

And, with a ton of options like Apache, NGINX, LiteSpeed, OpenLiteSpeed, and Caddy out there, each offering unique strengths, choosing the right web server for your website can be rather difficult.

I get it. That's why my goal in this article is to help make that choice easier for you.

But before we dive into the specifics of all of the individual web servers mentioned above, let's address the fundamental question:

What is a web server?

A web server is a software and hardware combination that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and other protocols to respond to user requests made over the World Wide Web.

It delivers content, such as web pages and media files, to users' devices, and acts as a gateway between a website visitor's request and the server's delivery of the web page, playing a critical role in how quickly, securely, and reliably this content is served.

Now, time for the comparison:


LiteSpeed is known for its exceptional performance and advanced caching capabilities; making it a powerful alternative to traditional web servers like Apache.

It excels in delivering both static and dynamic content quickly, thanks to its event-driven architecture and built-in LSCache technology. This results in significantly reduced page load times and enhanced scalability under traffic spikes.

LiteSpeed also offers seamless integration with popular content management systems, such as WordPress, providing automatic caching that further improves website speed and efficiency.

Its security features, including built-in anti-DDoS protection and mod_security compatibility, ensure robust defense mechanisms against various web threats.

LiteSpeed's compatibility with Apache's .htaccess files allows for an easy transition from Apache, making it an attractive option for users looking to upgrade their web server technology without extensive reconfiguration.

The biggest con about LiteSpeed is that while other web servers mentioned here offer enterprise versions/support, LiteSpeed is entirely centered around being a paid product. If you want to use it for any serious project, you'll need to pay up per their licensing.

They only have one free license, which includes:

  • 1 top-level domain
  • 1 worker process for handling server tasks
  • Up to 2 GB of RAM
  • LiteSpeed Cache (LSCache)

From there, it starts at $10 per month and works its way upwards depending on the amount of resources you'll need. It can be expensive depending on the project, but worth consideration.


OpenLiteSpeed is a highly efficient and user-friendly web server that caters well to personal and small to medium-sized website projects. As an open-source offering, it delivers many LiteSpeed benefits without the cost.

It does indeed lack many of the advanced features found in LiteSpeed Enterprise, though, such as enhanced security with the mod_security engine, direct .htaccess integration, and specialized caching for eCommerce platforms.

One of the biggest glaring issues also is that you have to restart OpenLiteSpeed for .htaccess changes to be processed, which practically eliminates OpenLiteSpeed for serious production use. Especially for a hosting provider, you would be constantly restarting your server.

Also, technically, this isn't a drop-in Apache alternative like LiteSpeed Enterprise, but it's close.

In summary, OpenLiteSpeed provides a solid, cost-effective web server solution for users starting out or with moderate needs, while LiteSpeed Enterprise offers an upgrade path for growing or more demanding environments.

They intended for OpenLiteSpeed to give you a taste of what LiteSpeed Enterprise is like, but not enough functionality that you don't want to upgrade.


NGINX stands out for its high performance and efficiency in handling static content and high volumes of concurrent connections, thanks to its event-driven architecture. This makes it an ideal choice for serving as a reverse proxy, load balancer, and HTTP cache, in addition to its capabilities as a web server.

NGINX's design minimizes memory usage and increases throughput to handle large numbers of requests simultaneously without sacrificing speed.

Its configuration system, though initially complex for some users, offers significant flexibility, allowing detailed control over every aspect of the web server's behavior.

NGINX's support for modern web protocols such as HTTP/2 and its ability to efficiently serve static content directly makes it a preferred option for high-traffic websites and web applications.


Apache is known for its flexibility and extensive module ecosystem, setting it apart as a versatile web server solution. It supports a wide array of programming languages and authentication schemes, making it highly adaptable to diverse web hosting needs.

Apache's .htaccess files allow for detailed directory-level configuration, enabling web administrators to implement site-specific policies without altering the global configuration. This granular control is especially valuable in shared hosting environments.

Apache operates on a process-driven model, which, while generally consuming more resources than event-driven servers, provides robust support for dynamic content handling directly within the server.

Overall, its widespread use and extensive documentation ensure that users have access to a vast community and a wealth of resources for troubleshooting and optimization.

Generally speaking, though, everything Apache does, LiteSpeed does better with drop-in compatibility.


Caddy is renowned for its simplicity and security-first approach, distinguishing itself from traditional web servers. It automates the use of HTTPS, enabling secure connections by default without additional configuration (via Let's Encrypt).

Caddy's architecture is designed to be both efficient and scalable, making it an excellent choice for both small projects and large-scale deployments.

Caddy operates on an event-driven model, similar to NGINX and LiteSpeed, which allows it to handle numerous connections concurrently without a significant impact on system resources. Its configuration syntax is straightforward and aimed at reducing the complexity involved in setting up web servers.

Despite its ease of use, Caddy does not sacrifice power or flexibility, offering advanced features such as automatic HTTPS, HTTP/3 support, and dynamic content serving with minimal setup.

Comparing all 5 web servers

LiteSpeed OpenLiteSpeed NGINX Apache Caddy
Type Event-driven Event-driven Event-driven Process-driven Event-driven
License Proprietary GPL BSD-like Apache 2.0 Apache 2.0
Performance High High High Moderate High
Static Content Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Excellent
Dynamic Content Excellent Good Requires external processing Excellent Excellent
Security Features Advanced Basic Advanced Advanced Advanced
Modularity Moderate Moderate Low High High
Configuration Easier with GUI GUI available Text-based Text-based Easier, intuitive syntax
Community Support Limited Open source community Large Very Large Growing
Cost Paid versions start at a premium Free Free Free Free/commercial licenses available

So, what's the best web server?

It depends. There really is no "best web server"--only the web server that's best for you.

But here's a concise summary to help guide your decision:

  • Apache is best for projects requiring extensive customization and support for dynamic content. Its modular architecture allows for flexible, on-the-fly configurations, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.
  • NGINX excels in handling high volumes of static content and concurrent connections, making it ideal for high-traffic websites. It's also highly effective as a reverse proxy or load balancer, offering efficient resource utilization.
  • LiteSpeed and OpenLiteSpeed offer high performance, particularly for dynamic content, with advanced caching mechanisms. LiteSpeed provides a seamless transition for Apache users looking for improved performance, while OpenLiteSpeed offers a free, albeit more limited, alternative.
  • Caddy distinguishes itself with its simplicity and automatic HTTPS, perfect for projects prioritizing ease of setup and security. It's a modern, efficient choice for both small and large-scale deployments.

What sounds like it fits you and your website in the future most?

The decision is yours. Make it.

That said, xTom is a hosting provider that's been around longer than a decade and we would love to be the home of your website.

For personal websites and small businesses, you can check out our shared cPanel hosting right here. That way, you'll never have to worry about a web server again and you can simply just operate your website (we use NGINX).

For sites with a bit more traffic, or people who value more control, you can check out our VPS hosting here, which will allow you to host your preferred web server on a budget.

If you want a done-for-you solution, have a very large site, or are an enterprise client, don't hesitate to reach out to sales here. We would be glad to help!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Curious about the best web hosting control panels?

We can help there too. We compared:

  1. The top 5 free web hosting control panels here
  2. cPanel vs. DirectAdmin here

Any of them would make the process of web administration much easier.