OmniHTTPd Pro -- Entry-level/mid-range server for Windows 95/98/NT platforms

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 25, 2002


OmniHTTPd Pro is a relatively new Web server that has been designed with one goal in mind -- to be the fastest and most compact server available for Windows 95/NT. To a degree the server meets its goal -- this is a great server to have for setting up and running your own personal Web site or for establishing a site for your small business. The server makes it possible for users with any type of 'net access to turn their computers into fully operational Web servers, which in turn gives anyone the ability to publish Web content without having to pay someone to host the site. But while OmniHTTPd is great for entry-level duties, if you're going to be designing an enterprise-level site you'd be better off purchasing one of the high-end Web servers.

OmniHTTPd does shine when it comes to personal and small organizational projects, though, and the server sports a long list of features designed specifically for these tasks, including the ability to perform on a running a PPP connection (dynamic or dedicated), multithreading and multihoming capabilities, advanced virtual server support (with simultaneous support for non-IP and IP based virtual servers), the ability to run as a system service (under both Windows 95 and NT), Rapid Response Architecture (for faster performance), HTTP 1.1 support, the ability to run multiple servers concurrently on a single machine (using different ports), support for Keep-Alive connections, CGI support (both standard CGI 1.1 and Windows CGI 1.3 support), the ability to serve up to 512 simultaneous connections, and directory security options. OmniHTTPd also offers a basic GUI interface designed to help guide you through configuration and administration tasks. OmniHTTPd Pro is a relatively new Web server that has been designed with one goal in mind -- to be the fastest and most compact server available for Windows 95/NT. To a degree the server meets its goal -- this is a great server to have for setting up and running your own personal Web site or for establishing a site for your small business. The server makes it possible for users with any type of 'net access to turn their computers into fully operational Web servers, which in turn gives anyone the ability to publish Web content without having to pay someone to host the site. But while OmniHTTPd is great for entry-level duties, if you're going to be designing an enterprise-level site you'd be better off purchasing one of the high-end Web servers.

One feature OmniHTTPd doesn't offer is advanced security technology (like SSL or S/HTTP). As a result, the server isn't recommended for electronic commerce functions. When compared to most other entry-level servers, OmniHTTPd Pro runs circles around its competition -- it is simply too fast and offers support for so many more features than its competition. But servers that straddle the fence between entry-level and mid-range use fare far better than their brethren. Servers like Microsoft Personal Web Server and AOLserver can match the speed of OmniHTTPd Pro and often offer a better selection of advanced features. The overall result is that while the OmniHTTPd Pro Web server can stake a claim to king of the low-end, it's not the best solution for users with needs more extensive than personal home pages and low-traffic business Web sites.

Two versions of the server are currently available. In addition to the commercial OmniHTTPd Pro 2.x version, a standard freeware release (v1.01) of OmniHTTPd that supports only Windows 95 and lacks many of the more advanced features of the Pro version is also available. The freeware release will no longer be developed or supported by Omnicron, but you can download and use it free of charge. Among other drawbacks, the standard release lacks support for virtual servers, HTTP 1.1 support, the ability to run as a system service, and directory security support. It also executes CGI scripts much slower and in general doesn't perform as well as its commercial sibling. As a result, most users will likely want to bypass the standard release for the more capable and powerful Pro version.

Pros: 7 Easy to setup and use, 7 Solid performance (mainly due to Rapid Response Architecture), 7 Rich set of features, 7 Great server for personal and small business use, 7 Small footprint and efficient use of system resources, 7 Optimized for Windows 95/98/NT

Cons: 7 Lacks support for enhanced security technologies like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and S/HTTP, 7 Minimal technical support available, 7 Lacks the more advanced features and speed of some mid-range and most enterprise-level servers, 7 Only available for Windows 95/NT platforms

New: Redesigned console, ISAPI extension support, multiple index support, numerous performance enhancements, WebTrends virtual server compatibility; List of Features

New in v2.01: First official 2.x release (see above for 2.x features), patched up two security weaknesses, added scroll bars to console, fixed multiple index list bug; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v2.01a: Resume/Partial Content Range Retrieval, bug fixes;
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v2.02: Revamped ISAPI module. Should work with more software, such as ColdFusion. Modified default configurations to include settings for ChiliASP, ColdFusion and Perl ISAPI
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v2.03: Installation support for Chili!ASP; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v2.04: ISAPI headers have been fixed, More management features have been added to the configuration module, Dynamic IPs can now be updated per virtual server; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v2.05: Ported to Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0; moved administration to a separate executable; fixed some ISAPI incompabilities; added PHP4 support; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v2.06: Received permission to bundle PHP4; fixed PATH_INFO mangling and added an option to override Reduced CPU usage under service mode; now sets CPU priority by process rather than by thread; logs correct byte lengths for partial transfers; no longer filters special CGI headers, thus allowing multiple set-cookie headers; admin. program now works with older COMCTL32.DLL; scripts as default files now work (i.e., index.php); Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v2.07: PHP version 4.0.1pl2 (including MySQL) bundled in; autoindexes sorted by clicking on headers; fixed ColdFusion & Delphi ISAPI POST problem; fixes dot-appending vulnerability; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v2.08: Bundled with PHP version 4.0.4pl1 (includes MySQL support); added calls to CoInitialize to fix problems with Delphi ISAPI applications that use ADO; fixes a variety of security exploit and stability issues; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

Version Reviewed: 2.02
Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud
Last Updated: 2/21/01
Date of Original Review: 7/13/98


Technical Support Information: Support for OmniHTTPd is pretty basic. Aside from online product documentation and a terse list of FAQs, the only support available is a mailing list and an e-mail support form.

Operating Systems Supported: Windows 95/98. Windows NT

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