Apache web server hit a home run in 2010

Web serversThe World Wide Web would be nothing without web servers, and Apache has been king of that hill for a long time now. Although its market share has been slipping a bit in recent years, Apache came back with a vengeance in 2010.

This became abundantly clear as we examined the growth of the top five web servers during the past year, from December 2009 to December 2010. As you’ll see, Apache really had a great year.

Web growth in 2010

Before we go into the details about each web server, here are some key numbers for how the Web changed in 2010, courtesy of Netcraft:

  • By the end of 2010, the Internet had a total of 255 million websites.
  • Compared to 2009, that’s an increase by 9%, or 21.4 million websites.

So basically, the Web keeps growing by leaps and bounds. It would have actually been a much higher number by 30 million or so if it weren’t for the fact that the Netcraft’s December 2009 number included the blogs from Tencent’s QQ, which are no longer included in the survey.

Web server growth in 2010

And now how web server usage changed in 2010:

  • Apache went from hosting 109 million websites in 2009, to almost 152 million by the end of 2010.
  • Net result: Almost 43 million new Apache websites in 2010.
  • Microsoft IIS went from hosting 49 million websites in 2009, to almost 57 million by the end of 2010.
  • Net result: Almost 8 million new IIS websites in 2010.
  • Nginx failed to show the same explosive growth as it did in 2009, going from 16.2 to 16.9 million websites in 2010.
  • Google’s web server (primarily for Blogger) went from 14.1 to 14.9 million websites in 2010.
  • Lighttpd went from 840 thousand to 1.3 million websites.

Or better yet, let’s illustrate this with a chart:

Web server software, 2009 vs. 2010

You can clearly see how strong the past year has been for Apache. The number of Apache-hosted websites has grown by almost 40% in just one year.

Market share changes in 2010

To complement the numbers above, here is how the market share for each web server changed in 2010:

  • Apache went from 46.6% to 59.4%, a massive gain of 12.8%.
  • Microsoft IIS went from 21.0% to 22.2%, a 1.2% gain.
  • Nginx went from 6.6% to 7.0%.
  • Google’s web server went from 6.0% to 5.9%.
  • Lighttpd went from 0.4% to 0.5%.

Just as the chart indicated, while the market share of IIS and nginx grew only moderately, Apache got a big boost.


This article shows that Apache is pulling away from its “arch enemy, ” Microsoft’s IIS. In December 2009 there were 2.2 times as many Apache websites as there were IIS websites. In December 2010 Apache had 2.7 times as many websites as IIS.

Apache is arguably one of the most emphatic open source successes, a product that has consistently since its birth been the preferred web server for millions upon millions of webmasters. Unless something drastic happens, it will remain dominant for a long time to come.

Data source: Netcraft


  1. “Although its market share has been slipping a bit in recent years, Apache came back with a vengeance in 2010.”

    Why isn’t there any section in this article that explains the reasons behind this change?

  2. There looks something wrong with the 2009 market share figures – they only total 80.6%.

    If Apache gained market share, that share had to come from somewhere – looks like it would have come from IIS and the others.

    1. @Judo: You’re right in that the 2009 numbers do seem a bit off. Most likely this is the result of the QQ sites appearing (included in Netcraft’s survey), then disappearing in 2010. Actually, that also explains some of Apache’s growth in Netcraft’s market share numbers, but far from all of it.

  3. Would be really interesting to see what percentage of Apache’s gain constitutes “real” websites. Tens of millions of domains are “parked”, doing nothing but being pointed at an ad-ridden page hosted by one of the big players like GoDaddy, parked.com, buy.com, etc. A couple of those guys can really skew the numbers.

    Apache is an old friend and I’m glad to see it thriving. Nginx is a new friend though doesn’t lend itself to large shared hosting environments where things like .htaccess are a necessity so it’s perceived market share will probably always appear low.

    Thanks for the report! Would be interested in any anecdotal data like, how do the numbers match up when considering unique IP addresses or less than $n hosts on a specific IP, etc.

  4. How about market share based on total pages served?

    A single high traffic site might serve more traffic than millions of others combined.

  5. I’m not good at statistics, but can somebody explain how Apache can grow by 43 million websites, while there where only 21.4 million new websites in 2010?

  6. So if we cleanup the above data. Apache grew from 109+30=139m to 152m websites. Growth of 9%.
    IIS went from 49m to 57m websites. Growth of 16%
    I believe you should update your article a little.

  7. So, is WordPress.com blogs counted as one each or just lumped into one? They use ngin and they have 32M blogs.

    I think another reason why apache keeps on growing is because it is the default webserver for most of the linux flavors. And most webhosting companies uses apache as it works very well with cpanel.

    I hope NGINX become more popular in the near future. That webserver is just faster than apache but the setup is just not as easy with apache.

  8. @kwatog, I’ve found that nginx is actually much easier to deploy than apache, and have switched to nginx for all webservers that I manage.

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