1. Web servers are used to server static content over the http request. while application servers are used to serve dynamic content over variety of requests.

  2. Web servers also act as protecting container to the application server, restricting direct access to the application server by the client. In this the port on which web server is running is accessible from outside, whereas access to port on which application server is closed and client can only contact web server thus acting as protecting layer to application sever which acts as a extra layer of security.

  3. Web servers like Nginx are also used as load balancers i.e. we can use multiple application server serving same or different content and web server can manage content on the basis of various predefined parameters.

  4. Web server like Nginx also act as reverse proxy i.e. a reverse proxy is a type of proxy server that retrieves resources on behalf of a client from one or more servers. These resources are then returned to the client as if they originated from the proxy server itself.

In modern days both web and application servers provides most of the functionalities and are often used interchangeably.

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