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Difference Between Application Server and Web Server

Application Server vs Web Server

Application servers and web servers are common terminologies when discussing the World Wide Web. Many of us have already encountered a web server, even though most people do not know it. A web server refers to the software or hardware that is used to serve content, like HTML pages and other media, to end users. This is what your web browser communicates with and gets information from. On the other hand, an application server refers the software or hardware that runs specific applications. These applications do not have a GUI and only supplies data to clients.

Application servers and web servers have many uses and it is not uncommon for a site to have both of these servers. The web server delivers the primary content while the application server runs the applications that provide additional content. Both can exist without the other though. Web servers for simple content do not need application servers. Applications servers that target non web-based networks do not need to have web servers.

Application servers are a lot more flexible than web servers because of the way they are set-up; applications have a lot more resources and freedom in execution. This may open-up the server to certain vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. The limited things that can be done on a web server make it easier to secure.

As it can be pricey to have two computers running just to have a small site with both functionalities, it is possible to have both the application server and web server within the same machine. This is called virtualization and the machine that runs them is both an application server and a web server.


1. An application server is a platform for running specific applications while a web server is a platform for delivering content over the internet
2. Application servers are often deployed in support of a web server
3. Application servers are more flexible than web servers
4. Application servers are less secure than web servers
5. An application server and web server can reside in the same machine

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