The only guide on the difference between Web Server & Web Browser you will ever need

Web Server & Web Browser

Internet, Digital, Cloud computing & Social media have become synonyms of our life today. We cannot imagine our lives without these technologies, given how much we depend on them. But often do not have a basic idea of the code that powers these technological advancements.

Yes, I am talking about Web Servers & Web Browsers. I often come across people, even IT professionals, who do not have a clear idea about the difference between a Web Server & Web browser. So I decided to write a detailed guide on web servers vs web browsers.

So, without wasting much time, let’s get started.

What is a Web Server?

A web server is a system that includes hardware & Software that stores data about the web pages of a website. Its primary function is to provide this data in the form of web pages whenever a user demands it.

A web server is a combination of

  • Hardware: A set of processors & storage units that store every file of a website like JavaScript files, HTML documents, images, CSS style sheets, etc., along with the web server software. The web server’s hardware acts as a bridge between the data it stores & every other device connected to it via the Web.
  • Software: HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol is a mode of communication between a web browser & a web server. The software part of a web server consists of multiple parts that control the functioning & working of the entire web server, for. e.g., the HTTP server. When a user tries to access any information stored in the Web Server, HTTP delivers the content to the user.

How does a Web Server work?

Web Server & Web Browser
Working on Web Server

A simplified working of a web server is shown in the above diagram. When a web client places a request in front of the Web server, it can respond in three ways.

This is how a web server responds to any request:

The web server communicates with the static Data Storage to locate the pages related to the requested URL.

  • The web server presents the requested pages to the web client if the page is found.
  • If the page is not found, the web server shows a standard HTTP response: Error 404 Not found.
  • If the requested information is from the other resource, the server will communicate with the application server & data store to create an HTTP response.

This is the basic functioning of a web server.

Now let’s check out the different processing models that are widely in use:

  • Concurrent Approach: Multi-process Approach: Here, a single process initiates several multi-processes known as the child process. Each child’s process handles different requests at the same time.

    Multi-threaded approach: Here, multiple single-threaded processes are initiated. Each Single-threaded process handles different requests.

    Hybrid method: This model combines a multi-process approach & multi-threaded approach. This process is faster & puts less load on the system.
  • Single-Process-Event-driven approach: Here, a single process for a single event is generated. It’s a bit slower than compared to the concurrent approach.

Now let’s understand what a web browser is.

What is a Web Browser?

A web browser is software, or an application used by an internet user to access information from the Web Server. In simple terms, a web browser is a software that we used to access any website page available on the World Wide Web (WWW).

In short, a web browser can take you to any place on the Internet. Its core goal is to help users access web pages by using URLs.

There are a lot of browsers available in the market today. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, & Mozilla Firefox are some examples of Web Browsers.

How does the Architecture of a Web Browser look?

Almost every Web Browser available there from different vendors has similar architecture. Their primary function is to help users access documents available on the web server. Generally, a web browser does this by rendering an HTML.

HTML or Hyper Text Mark-up Language is a code used to “design” a webpage on the user’s screen based on the data available with the web server. HTML can be in any form, including Images, texts & Links. To accomplish this task, a web browser is divided into two sections.

  • Controller: The first section of a browser comes into action during use. It gets input by the user via any of the multiple input methods available. Information can vary from the keyboard, mouse-pads, or touch-screen. After getting input, the Controller accesses the requested document by the user.
  • Interpreter: An interpreter is used by the Controller of a web browser to display a page on the user’s screen, based on the Data available. Some primary examples of Interpreters are HTML, Java, & JavaScript.

What is the purpose of a Web Browser?

Here is the list of the various functions of a web browser:

  • It collects the information from the static server data & presents it in front of the user on demand
  • It’s used to navigate all the websites available on the world wide web via “URL.”

What are cookies?

Cookies are an essential part of any web browser. Cookies are like a storage space where a website stores information about the user. The reason behind saving the information in the form of cookies is to ensure you a quick page loading when the user returns to the website.

Web Server & Web Browser
How Cookies Works

Some of the cookies take this process one step ahead. They store additional private information about you. This information includes your browsing patterns, interests & likings. This data is later sold to various marketing agencies for running targeted ads.

What is the difference between a Web Server & Web Browser?

Let’s understand the difference between a Web Server & Web Browser via a simple table.

MatrixWeb ServerWeb Browser
BasicIt’s a combination of software & hardware that stores & offers data about any webpage on the request from a user via a web browser.It’s software that allows a user to access data of any web page stored in the web server with the help of a particular URL
FunctioningWeb Server processes the request sent by the Web Browser, approves it & shares the relevant data with the user.It receives an input request for the web document/services from the user & forwards the access request to the Web Server.
Processing modelWeb servers follow three processing models in general:
Viz. Process-based model, Thread-based model & Hybrid model
There is no such processing model in the web browser. Almost all browsers have similar architecture.
Storage of DataWeb Servers offer a particular storage location to store information about website & web pages.Web Browser stores the data like personal information & password in cookies. These cookies ensure that users can enjoy the quick loading of pre-visited pages.
Installation locationWeb servers can be installed at any location across the globe. The only prerequisite is that they need to be stored where the data can be accessed easily.Web browsers are installed on the user’s system. It can be a Personal Computer, laptop, or any other mobile device.

What‘s the role of HTTP in all this?

HTTP is critical for both Web Server & Web Browsers. It’s a method of transferring information from a web server to a web browser. The information between the Web server & Web Browser is done in Hypertext documents.

HTTP & HTML are used collectively to render images, texts, videos & other file formats on the user’s screen. The core of HTTP is its request-response paradigm. Under this, a Web server answers the client’s request, not just in the form of information but also on the status of the data.

Summing Up

A web server is a system used to store any web page data. It is connected to the world wide web. It receives & analyzes the request from a web browser & responds accordingly.

On the contrary, a Web browser is Software used to access web pages & other data stored in the Web Server. Both of them are integral parts of the Internet.

I hope this detailed guide on the difference between Web Servers & Web Browsers has offered you a better & clearer understanding. If you need to know more about the Digital world & technology, feel free to explore my blog here. I am sure you will find a lot of interesting articles here.


Is Web Server software or hardware

A web server is a combination of hardware & Software.

What is HTTP?

HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is a system through which Web Server & Web Browser communicate with each other.

What exactly is a Web Browser?

A web browser is a software that allows users to access web pages available on the Internet.

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