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How to Configure Nginx

Nginx is a high-end web server that is lightweight and designed to offer huge amount of static content through an efficient usage of system resources. The greatest advantage of Nginx is that is can server static content effectively just like media files and plain HTML files. Nginx is viewed as a much faster alternative to the Apache because it can handle many more concurrent connections using fewer resources. Unlike Apache that uses process-oriented approach for handling requests, the Nginx uses asynchronous model that offers predictable performance under loads. The Nginx offers dynamic content to FastCGI, CGI and web servers such as Apache and this is returned to Nginx to be delivered to the clients.

Since this process involves a complex set-up, Nginx configuration may appear to be slightly complicated initially. The Nginx configuration files reside in the /etc/nginx/directory and the primary configuration file is the /etc/nginx/nginx.conf. When you set up the Nginx from package manager, this is where files will be housed; alternate locations are /opt/nginx/conf/. Before you start configuring Nginx, you must consider the prerequisites.

You need to install the Nginx server. At times the server configuration files tend to become so corrupted that they cannot be used. It is therefore advisable to have working copies of the key files with you. So, a good idea is to make a copy of the configuration file before making any changes to this. To ensure faster and better restoration, you should ideally perform regular backups of the Nginx configuration. You can store the entire etc/nginx/directory inside a Git repository in order to save original settings and the versions from different changes. Otherwise, you can create dated copies of the files periodically by issuing the "Start, Stop, Reload" command.
With this, you are in a position to make alterations to the Nginx configuration. Every time you make any change, you must reload the configuration in advance before the change can take effect.

The HTTP section of the nginx.conf file will have the statement "include/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/" and this will permit server block configurations from separate files which are found within “sites-enabled” sub-directory. Using symlinks, one can enable and disable virtual servers while maintaining the configuration files. The average Nginx user will make majority of the changes in the server block.

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