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For a website I'm developing all my static content is hosted offsite on a combination of S3/Cloudfront. I've been looking over a lot of tutorials for deploying a Django app into production and a lot of them recommend a combination of Nginx (reverse proxy) + Apache. This is stated under the assumption that Ngnix will be used for serving static contents and Apache will do all the heavy lifting. Are there any other reasons to have a reverse proxy when I don't have any static contents to serve? Or in this case could I simplify my server setup and just use Apache?

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Nginx will help in your use case as well. Generally, like any reverse proxy, it helps to utilize server resources more optimally with two major techniques:

  1. As you correctly pointed out, it serves static content, thus freeing a heavy-weight web server from doing this.
  2. But it also solves the problem of "slow clients", i.e. those clients who use slow connections (dial-up or mobile). Since Apache generates a dynamic page pretty fast, Nginx gets it, stores to the temporary file and serves it to the client at the client's speed (much like it would serve a static content), freeing Apache to serve another request.

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