Web Servers: What Should I Know?

Did you know that the oldest web server was created in 1990 by a scientist at CERN? While CERN typically specializes in nuclear research, they were an early hub for internet exploration.

Maybe you’re thinking, “1990 wasn’t that long ago!” Or perhaps you thought “1990 was before I was even born!” Regardless of which side of that date you find your birthday, your life has been changed by the creation of web servers.

But, what is a web server? Whether you are creating a website, starting a blog, or just casually surfing the Web, understanding web servers can enhance your experience.

Continue reading to learn the basics of what web servers are and how they work.


To understand web servers, you need to understand some terminology first. This section will lay out different words and what they mean in terms of web servers.

The first is HyperText Markup Language (HTML). HTML is the basic building block that defines the structure and meaning of web content.

HTML is the coding that demarcates something as a heading, paragraph, image, link, etc. If you’re using Google Chrome, you can view the HTML of this page by right-clicking your mouse and selecting “View Page Source”.

Next is HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP is the protocol, or set of rules, used for fetching sets of HTML. HTTP is the foundation of data exchange on the Internet.

Web browsers (like Edge, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome) receive a request for information and transfer it to your device using HTTP. The browser reads the HTML and creates the web page you were looking for.

Finally, web servers come into play. Web server examples refer to both hardware and software. In terms of hardware, it’s a computer that stores software and files.

The software of web servers understands website addresses and HTTP. It can be accessed through domain names and delivers content to the user’s device.

How It Affects You

So, let’s say you need to find something on the internet. You turn to a web browser and make a search. The search goes out to web servers as an HTTP request.

The response comes back from the web server as an HTTP response with HTML files that meet your need.

If you are considering building a website, you’ll need to understand how to choose the right web server. Different server specifications for your web server affect how fast a page will load and how it will appear on different devices.

Making sure you optimize a user’s experience will increase how long someone will stay on your website. For example, a web server for chrome may not load as efficiently on Firefox or Safari.

Web Servers 101

As your surf the web, it’s amazing to consider what goes into pulling up your favorite meme or a tasty recipe. HTTP, HTML, web browsers, web servers, and more are all at work to optimize your internet experience.

Now that you know web servers 101, put our web servers to work and check out more informative posts on our blog today!