February 2018 Web Server Survey

In the February 2018 survey we received responses from 1,838,596,056 sites across 214,036,874 unique domain names and 7,290,968 web-facing computers. This reflects a gain of 63,000 computers, and nearly a million additional domains. Overall hostname growth was 33 million, and the number of active sites grew by 9.3 million.

Microsoft dominated this month's domain growth, with an extra 1.1 million domains (+2.0%) taking its market share up by 0.41 percentage points to 26.5%, while Apache lost 115,000 domains. Microsoft also saw the largest hostname growth, with an additional 59 million sites taking its leading hostname share up by 2.65 points to 34.5%.

After excelling in all growth metrics last month, nginx did not sweep the board this time. Although its computer growth continued to be strong – gaining 44,000 this month – it lost 11.2 million hostnames globally. The primary cause of this was more than 15 million sites switching from nginx to Apache. Most of these sites were previously hosted by Raksmart in China, but are now hosted by Data Foundry in the United States.

All four of the largest major vendors – Apache, nginx, Google and Microsoft – gained active sites this month. Apache made the largest gain of 2.1 million, but this was not enough to prevent its active sites share falling by 1.1 points to 42.7%. Nonetheless, Apache continues to lead with more than twice as many active sites as its closest competitor, nginx.

Cloudflare-nginx migration underway

For several years, every edge machine in Cloudflare's content delivery network (CDN) exhibited the Server: cloudflare-nginx HTTP response header. This reflected the fact that its custom software stack was based on nginx – but this month's survey saw a vast swathe of websites switching to a new Server: cloudflare header.

Although nginx remains part of Cloudflare's stack, it plays less of a role than it once did. The code that handles HTTP requests on Cloudflare's machines now goes far beyond the capabilities of nginx alone, and Cloudflare also hints that it will most likely end up writing its own caching software instead of using nginx.

In line with Cloudflare's reasoning, Netcraft's survey treats the new cloudflare server as a distinct product to nginx, and this has taken a chunk out of nginx's share in the top million sites. The new cloudflare server already accounts for 5.2% of the top million sites, and this share will undoubtedly increase next month.

The transition to the new cloudflare server banner started on 18 December 2017, and the February 2018 survey found nearly 60% of Cloudflare's sites using the new banner. It is likely that they will all use the new banner by next month's survey.

Other web server news

The developers of nginx have added support for HTTP/2 Server Push, which is likely to be made available in the next release. This feature allows web servers to send resources such as images and stylesheets before they are requested by the browser, which can make some webpages load faster.

After coming to prominence last month, DPS is now the 9th largest server by domains. It continues to be used almost exclusively by GoDaddy to host sites created with its Website Builder tool, and it is still being regularly updated. The current version in use at the time of writing is DPS 1.2.1, whereas a month ago it was 1.1.20.

OpenLiteSpeed 1.5.0 RC1 was released on 2 February, adding new Multi-Thread APIs and a module developer guide. This followed the 10 January release of 1.4.29, which is currently the latest stable version of the freely available open source server. Just over 2.5 million domains are currently using OpenLiteSpeed or the commercially available LiteSpeed Web Server product. Both products use the same LiteSpeed server banner and do not reveal version numbers.

Finally, NGINX Unit saw a few new releases since the last survey. NGINX Unit 0.4 was released on 15 January. This was the first release of the lightweight web application server to be compatible with DragonFly BSD, but it was mostly a bugfix release that eliminated some significant regressions in the previous version. NGINX Unit 0.5 was then released on 8 February, adding a Perl application module that allows it to run applications like Bugzilla; however, this release was not announced, as it contained a serious regression that could cause the main process to die. This was rectified in NGINX Unit 0.6, which was announced on 9 February.

Total number of websites

Web server market share

DeveloperJanuary 2018PercentFebruary 2018PercentChange
Microsoft575,026,64831.85%634,359,41934.50%2.65
Apache491,259,91827.21%504,701,56027.45%0.24
nginx458,386,42325.39%447,224,45624.32%-1.07
Google21,657,7961.20%22,022,6331.20%-0.00
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Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in January 2018

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 ServerStack Linux 0:00:00 0.000 0.126 0.060 0.118 0.118
2 vXtream Ltd Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.135 0.053 0.107 0.107
3 XILO Communications Ltd. Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.184 0.059 0.118 0.118
4 Memset Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.146 0.067 0.133 0.133
5 Pair Networks FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.006 0.249 0.067 0.135 0.135
6 CWCS Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.203 0.123 0.201 0.201
7 Bigstep Linux 0:00:00 0.011 0.155 0.059 0.121 0.121
8 www.arvixe.com Linux 0:00:00 0.011 0.145 0.081 0.167 0.167
9 ReliableServers.com Linux 0:00:00 0.017 0.312 0.009 0.160 0.160
10 Hyve Managed Hosting Linux 0:00:00 0.017 0.092 0.056 0.116 0.116

See full table

ServerStack had the most reliable hosting company website in January 2018, with the only site to respond successfully to each of Netcraft's requests. Its website appeared in the top 10 five times in 2017, and a total of 46 times since its inclusion in 2012. The hosting company, which operates three data centres in the US and Europe, provides managed hosting and was co-founded by brothers Moisey and Ben Uretsky, who later went on to start cloud provider DigitalOcean.

The next five hosting company sites each had only a single failed request, with the tie being broken by average connect time. Of these five, vXtream's Qube site had the quickest average connect time (53ms), earning it second place. vXtream, which recently acquired Qube, offers managed hosting, colocation, and cloud-based solutions from data centres in Zurich, London and New York. Its website, qubenet.net, has appeared in the top 10 a total of ten times in 2017. The sites belonging to XILO, Memset, pair Networks, and CWCS were ranked 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th according to their average connect times.

Hyve Managed Hosting's site continues its top 10 streak, now having been amongst the top 10 most reliable hosting company sites for 12 consecutive months. It claims 10th place this month, with three failed requests but a fast response time. Hyve's website has sustained a 100% uptime record since Netcraft began monitoring it in 2016.

Linux is the most popular operating system this month, being used by nine of the top ten hosting companies. FreeBSD also makes an appearance as Pair Networks's OS of choice.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around thirty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.