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How Many Websites Run NGINX? June 2014

Over 130 million websites use NGINX at the front of their infrastructure, and of the 10,000 busiest websites in the world, more websites use NGINX than any other web server.
W3Techs Fact of the Day, 26 May 2014

The last two months of data from Netcraft and W3Techs show some interesting changes. With some numbers up and some down, we need to focus on the numbers that reveal the real trends in the industry.

Netcraft Web Server Surveys, May and June 2014

NGINX is the only web server to show consistent growth among the top 1 million sites in the Netcraft reports, up almost 1.5% in the last 2 months. Microsoft has remained steady; Google and Apache’s share of this segment has dropped:

Netcraft’s top million busiest sites, June 2014

Netcraft also surveys a corpus of ‘active sites’, and again over the last 2 months, NGINX’s share is up over 0.5% (more than any other major web server). Netcraft’s active sites report tries to exclude duplicate, templated sites such as link farms and parked domains, instead only counting websites with a distinctive structure indicating unique content.

In Netcraft’s headline ‘total sites’ figure, the number of websites running NGINX dropped by 3.5 million in May and a further 8.6 million in June. Netcraft provided the following commentary in the May report:

“… the losses were mostly isolated to just a few hosting companies. Nearly two million nginx sites disappeared at cloud hosting company Enzu, followed by 1.2 million at BurstNet.”

Changes at large hosting providers are motivated by many factors – changes to partnerships, moves to a more cost‑effective location, domain transfers between subsidiaries – and certainly don’t point to a large‑scale migration of users away from NGINX.

W3Techs Survey, June 2014

W3Techs uses a different sampling methodology. They begin with the top million websites, based on Alexa traffic rank, and drill down to the busiest 1,000. Since April, they also have observed a significant shift in favor of NGINX – the number of websites using NGINX in their top 10,000 and 1,000 has gone up almost a percentage point in the last 60 days:

diagram screenshot w3techs-June-2014
April 2014 June 2014

What might have prompted this change? The Heartbleed bug possibly caused some companies to reassess their web infrastructure and take the opportunity to deploy NGINX, and the recent revisions of NGINX’s ‘stable’ branch might have encouraged others to upgrade.

However, previous trend analysis has shown that the kind of growth reported in June is not a one‑off. There’s a continual migration towards NGINX, perhaps because it deliver better performance, reliability, and consistency on existing infrastructure as well as new. The new commercial operations help too – they underwrite the future of the open source product.

This month’s highlight comes from W3Techs:

Web technology fact of the day: NGINX has replaced Apache as the most used web server among the top 10,000 websites.

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