Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Web Watch: Update of a Survey of the Numbers of UK University Web Servers

Brian Kelly updates a survey of the numbers of UK university Web servers.

How many Web servers are there in use within the UK higher education community? What is the profile of server usage within the community - do most institutions take a distributed approach, running many servers, or is a centralised approach more popular? A WebWatch survey was published in June 2000 [1] which aimed to provide answers to these questions. The survey has been repeated recently in order to see if there has been any significant changes.

Using Netcraft's Web-Based Service

Netcraft [2] is a company based in Bath which carries out surveys of Web server software. The Netcraft survey is very comprehensive, with over 36 million sites having been polled. Netcraft publish monthly reports on their surveys [3].

Netcraft also provide an interface which enables details of the Web server used at a site to be obtained. The service also provides a search facility which can be used to list the Web servers used within a domain (or part of a domain). This facility can be used to, for example, list the Web servers which have .microsoft in the domain name.

The Netcraft interface is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Netcraft interface
Figure 1: Netcraft interface

This service has been used to analyse Web servers used in UK Universities. The results are provided in Appendix 1 of this article.

Why Carry This Survey?

The aim of the initial survey was to profile the server usage within the UK HE community. Knowledge of the server usage within the community has a number of possible benefits: for example, knowledge of server profiles will help developers of robot software.

The survey has been repeated in order to detect interesting trends: are we, for example, seeing a growth in the numbers of servers due to use of personal Web servers and desktop computers? Or are we seeing a reduction in the numbers, due to institutions taking a more centralised approach to use of Web servers?


A number of caveats to this survey should be noted:

Summary of Findings

The total number of Web servers found on 1 May 2000 was 3,986. Excluding institutions for which Netcraft reported 0 Web servers, an average of 19.4 servers per institution was found. When the survey was repeated on 5 June 2000 the total number of Web servers had reduced to 3,773, with an average of 24.2 servers per institution.

For the most recent survey the total number of Web servers had increased to 4,571, with an average of 28.6 servers per institution.

A histogram of the results is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Histogram of Results
Figure 2: Histogram of Results

As can be seen, most institutions have a small number of publicly-accessible Web servers, with 73 institutions running between 1 and 9 servers (79 in May 2000) and only 11 running more than 100 (9 in May 2000).


There has not been a major change in the profile in the numbers of Web servers used across the community. We have seen a increase, small in many cases, although there have been a number of substantial jumps (e.g. Stirling with a growth from 26 to 87 and Strathclyde from 46 to 110).

After the previous survey was published there was speculation that we would shortly be seeing a substantial jump, as broadband networks became available, which would allow home computers to be "always on", allowing users to run Web servers from home. There was an exception that this change, which would be accompanied by enhanced personal Web server tools, would influence the profile of server usage within institutions (with the accompanying challenges of management, security, etc.) However this change has not happened, and we are still awaiting the widespread deployment of broadband networks.

We also do not appear to be seeing significant changes in institutions moving from a small number of centrally managed servers to a distributed environment or, alternatively, from a distributed environment to a centrally managed one.


  1. A Survey Of Numbers of UK University Web Servers, Ariadne issue 24, June 2000
  2. Netcraft,
  3. Web Server Survey, Netcraft

Appendix 1: Survey Results

The Netcraft service was used to count the number of web servers used by UK Universities. The survey was initially carried out on 1 May 2000 and repeated on 5 June 2000. The data given below was obtained on 11 March 2002.

The following table contains details of the survey. Column 1 gives the name of the institution and a link to the institutional Web server. Column 2 gives the number of Web servers found within the university's domain.

Note the following limitations in the survey:

Domain Name Variants
The survey will not detect unusual domain names variants used within an institution: e.g. a link from www.lse-maths.ac.uk will be included in the numbers of servers in the domain lse.ac.uk.
Short and Link Domain Names
Institutions which make use of a long and short form of their domain name (e.g. www.bham.ac.uk and www.birmingham.ac.uk) will have misleading results.
IP Numbers
Servers which use an IP number rather than a domain name will not be included.
Netcraft Limitations
The database used by the Netcraft service may be incomplete.

Table 1: Numbers of Web Servers In UK HEIs
InstitutionNo. of Servers
1 May 2000
No. of Servers
5 June 2000
No. of Servers
12 March 2002
Current No. of Servers
Aberdeen262423Try it
Abertay7617Try it
Aberystwyth8915Try it
Anglia Polytechnic University434135Try it
Aston221835Try it
Bangor192035Try it
Bath Spa112Try it
Bath12916Try it
Belfast, The Queen's University of283350Try it
Birkbeck131210Try it
NOTE: Used <www.bham.ac.uk> and not <www.birmingham.ac.uk>
6664122Try it
Bolton Institute of Higher Education211720Try it
Bournemouth University151522Try it
Bradford474739Try it
Bretton College111Try it
Brighton333820Try it
Bristol544840Try it
Brunel1388Try it
Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College111Try it
Cambridge338318369Try it
Canterbury Christ Church111Try it
NOTE Used <www.cardiff.ac.uk> and not <www.cf.ac.uk> (which has 9 sites)
212Try it
Cardiff, University of Wales Institute (UWIC)555Try it
Central England, University of (UCE)131220Try it
Central Lancashire324Try it
Central School of Speech and Drama111Try it
Cheltenham and Gloucester College of HE335Try it
Chester College
Used .chester to avoid confusion with Manchester and Chichester
442Try it
Chichester College222Try it
City373229Try it
College of Guidance Studies101Try it
CoventryNot known2725Try it
Cranfield212120Try it
Dartington College of Arts111Try it
De Montfort (DMU)615761Try it
Derby338Try it
Dundee322835Try it
Durham221Try it
East Anglia, University of (UEA)202028Try it
East London10912Try it
Edge Hill555Try it
Used .ed.ac.uk to differentiate from Bized and RCSED
265259243Try it
Essex313025Try it
Used .ex.ac.uk to differentiate from essex
11214Try it
Falmouth112Try it
Glamorgan14138Try it
Glasgow Caledonian University222229Try it
Glasgow School of Art223Try it
Glasgow182174186Try it
Goldsmiths College
NOTE <www.goldsmiths.ac.uk> and not <www.gold.ac.uk> (which has 17 sites)
543Try it
Greenwich151321Try it
Harper Adams111Try it
Heriot-Watt353333Try it
Hertfordshire252315Try it
Huddersfield328Try it
Hull434242Try it
Used .ic.ac.uk and not ic.ac.uk to avoid confusion with uwic.ac.uk in March 2002 survey
155146189Try it
Institute of Education455Try it
Keele101011Try it
Kent151521Try it
Kent Institute of Art and Design211Try it
King Alfred's College, Winchester544Try it
King's College London (KCL)333235Try it
Kingston335Try it
Lampeter223Try it
Note initially used lancaster.ac.uk and not .lancs.ac.uk
Try it (Lancaster)
Try it (Lancs)
Leeds106101132Try it
Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU)325Try it
Used .le.ac.uk to differentiate from Newcastle, Bournville, Skelmersdale, Isle and Keele
161618Try it
Lincolnshire and Humberside211Try it
Liverpool222339Try it
Liverpool John Moore171518Try it
Liverpool Hope111Try it
London Business School751Try it
London Guildhall113Try it
London Institute868Try it
University of London (Institutes)667Try it
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)191623Try it
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine333Try it
Note <www.lboro.ac.uk> and not <www.lut.ac.uk>
242248Try it
Luton6811Try it
Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST)665966Try it
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)434135Try it
Manchester152142159Try it
Manchester Business School111Try it
Medicine, University of Wales College of224Try it
Middlesex463846Try it
Napier333229Try it
Newcastle494165Try it
Newman332Try it
Newport555Try it
North-East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI)226Try it
North London (UNL)8810Try it
North Riding College Higher Education Corporation111Try it
Northampton, University College111Try it
Northern College of Education101013Try it
Northern School of Contemporary Dance111Try it
University of Northumbria at Newcastle (UNN)131419Try it
Norwich School of Art and Design111Try it
Nottingham Trent282237Try it
Nottingham282743Try it
Oxford247235333Try it
Oxford Brookes004Try it
Paisley15215Try it
Plymouth312814Try it
Used .port.ac.uk to differentiate from Newport
323134Try it
Queen Margaret University College112Try it
Queen Mary and Westfield College69627Try it
Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication111Try it
Reading898978Try it
Ripon and York St John, College of221Try it
Robert Gordon University646Try it
Roehampton323Try it
Rose Bruford College111Try it
Royal Academy of Music111Try it
Royal College of Art161316Try it
Royal College of Music113Try it
Royal Holloway424130Try it
Royal Northern College of Music443Try it
Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama220Try it
Royal Veterinary College111Try it
St Andrews373852Try it
St George's Hospital Medical School8514Try it
St Mark and St John, College of332Try it
St Mary's College111Try it
Salford313135Try it
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)113Try it
Scottish Agricultural College334Try it
Sheffield Hallam University151611Try it
Sheffield282532Try it
South Bank University191839Try it
Southampton160162185Try it
Southampton Institute324Try it
Staffordshire5511Try it
Stirling302687 **Try it
Strathclyde4946110 **Try it
Sunderland221932Try it
Surrey Institute of Art and Design233Try it
Surrey232130Try it
Sussex151616Try it
Swansea Institute of Higher Education111Try it
Swansea302632Try it
Teeside131310Try it
Thames Valley151518Try it
Trinity and All Saints111Try it
Trinity College of Music111Try it
Trinity College, Carmarthen112Try it
Ulster25329Try it
University College London117110117Try it
Warwick414055Try it
Welsh College of Music and Drama111Try it
West of England, University of (UWE)141121Try it
Westhill College111Try it
Westminster777Try it
Wolverhampton676365Try it
Worcester, University College001Try it
Writtle College111Try it
Wye College001Try it
York262236Try it
One institution was reported as having no Web servers (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). This is believed to be due to an error in the data collection.
The data for the initial survey of Coventry University was lost.
The initial surveys of Lancaster Universities used the domain name .lancaster.ac.uk. This survey also provides findings for .lancs.ac.uk.

Table 2 gives a summary of the top 5 web sites with the largest number of web servers as reported by Netcraft.

Table 2: Top 5 UK HEI Web Sites With The Most Number of Web Servers
InstitutionNo. of Web Servers (1 May 2000)No. of Web Servers (5 June 2000)No. of Web Servers (12 March 2002)Current Value
Cambridge338318369Try it
Oxford247235333Try it
Edinburgh248244243Try it
Imperial155149189Try it
Glasgow182174186Try it

Author Details

Picture of Brian Kelly Brian Kelly
UK Web Focus
University of Bath

Email: b.kelly@ukoln.ac.uk

Brian Kelly is UK Web Focus. He works for UKOLN, which is based at the University of Bath