Running a basic Apache web server

This tutorial shows you how to use Compute Engine to deploy an Apache web server on a virtual machine (VM) instance. To learn more about the technologies that you can use for web serving on Google Cloud, see Choosing a hosting option on Google Cloud.

A VM on Compute Engine can be controlled like any standard Linux server. Deploy an Apache web server to learn the basics of running a server on a VM instance.


Create a Linux VM that allows HTTP traffic by doing the following:

  1. Create a new Linux VM. For more information, see Quickstart using a Linux VM.

    1. Optional: While creating a Linux VM, you can select the Allow HTTP traffic checkbox to open port tcp:80 for traffic and Allow HTTPS traffic checkbox to open port tcp:443. However, if you want to open a different port, configure the firewall after creating the VM, and then configure Apache to use the firewall.
  2. Connect to the Linux VM. For more information, see Connect to the VM instance.

Install Apache

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM Instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. To connect to the Linux VM you just created, click SSH in the row of the VM.
  3. To update the available packages and install the apache2 package, use the system package manager for that operating system. If you followed the Quickstart, this creates an Ubuntu VM. To update an Ubuntu VM, run the following command:

    sudo apt update && sudo apt -y install apache2

    After installing Apache, the operating system automatically starts the Apache server.

  4. Verify that Apache is running:

    sudo systemctl status apache2
  5. Overwrite the Apache web server default web page:

    echo '<!doctype html><html><body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body></html>' | sudo tee /var/www/html/index.html

Test your server

Test that your VM is serving traffic on its external IP.

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM Instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. Copy the external IP for your VM under the External IP column.
  3. In a browser, navigate to http://[EXTERNAL_IP]. Don't connect using https because this causes the server to return a Connection Refused error.

You should now see the "Hello World!" page.

Clean up

To avoid incurring charges for the VM after you're done experimenting, delete the VM. For more information, see Clean up.


Receiving a Connection Refused error

If you are seeing a Connection Refused error, it is possible that:

  • Your VM instance is not publicly accessible because your firewall rules or tags are misconfigured in one of the following ways:

    • The VM instance does not have the proper tag that allows Compute Engine to apply the appropriate firewall rules to your instance.
    • Your project does not have a firewall rule that allows traffic to the external IP address for your instance.
  • You are trying to access the VM using an https address. Check that your URL is http://[EXTERNAL_IP] rather than https://[EXTERNAL_IP].

To ensure that your VM instance has the correct tags:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. Click the name of the instance that you are trying to connect to.
  3. Click Edit at the top of the page.
  4. Scroll down to Firewalls, and make sure the Allow HTTP traffic box is checked. If it is not checked, check it.
  5. Save your changes. This ensures that the correct tags are added to the VM instance.

To ensure that the correct firewall rule exists:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Firewall rules page.

    Go to Firewall rules

  2. Look for a firewall rule that allows all IP ranges through tcp:80. Usually, this rule is named the default-allow-http rule.
  3. If a rule does not exist, create one.
    1. Click Create firewall rule.
    2. Enter a name for the rule, such as default-allow-http.
    3. Under Source IP ranges, enter to allow traffic from all sources.
    4. Under Protocols and ports, check Specified protocols and ports and enter tcp:80.
    5. Create your firewall rule.

Test your server again by going to the external IP address of the instance:


What's next

Learn how to host a website on Compute Engine.

Learn how to set up LAMP on Compute Engine.

Try it for yourself

If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how Compute Engine performs in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.

Try Compute Engine free