If you are new to web hosting you may find the choice between Windows and Linux hosting a difficult decision to make. This is especially true if you use Windows as your home operating system on your laptop or desk top computer. You may be conflicted with the prevalence of Linux hosts available and wonder why they are so popular when you rarely hear of Linux home systems.
There are many reasons Linux is often used in web hosting and price is a significant component. When looking for hosting, be aware that Linux provides a cost effective, secure and stable environment for your site.
Linux and Windows – Is there really a difference?
There are differences between Linux and Windows. However, the primary difference occurs with the features. If you are using a Windows specific application, it may be advisable to use a Windows server. However, even Windows proprietary applications can often be used on Linux. There are typically available work arounds or translations that will allow you to use your Windows application on a Linux server. However, sometimes these workarounds are not ideal so you need to be careful when using them.
If you do not already use Windows applications, though, you should not have any problem when opting to host with a Linux server. The main points of debate between the two systems include the following:
Although you may see more hosts these days with only slight price differences between Windows and Linux the vast majority of hosts that offer both services offer Linux at a reduced price. If you do not have any Windows proprietary applications already and price is an issue, Linux will likely be the most affordable and the best value.
When searching for web hosts you are likely trying to find as many features as possible offered at the lowest price. Linux and Windows likely have similar applications available including Ecommerce solutions, blogging software, databases, site builders, guest books, forms and more.
Because Windows servers offer an all inclusive solution you are often using resources you do not need. This may cause the Windows server to perform slightly worse than a Linux server. For most people this performance difference may be negligible but for others this is a significant issue and the deciding factor between the two.
For anyone who uses Windows on their home computer they are likely aware of all the security breaches and vulnerabilities that can occur. Keep in mind, though, that these vulnerabilities may also occur with a Linux server. In theory, if the host has skilled IT professionals this will not be an issue regardless of the platform. But there are more IT professionals who are well versed with Linux so this may be an issue in reality.
Windows servers are better suited to Windows proprietary applications such as ASP, .NET, FrontPage, Windows Streaming Media, MS Access, MSSQL and more. However, if you have not yet created a site that uses these applications it will not be an issue. Therefore, you may want to research the available tools that will allow you to use them on a Linux server to see if they will be a practical solution.
The advantages of Linux for your web site
There are some highly specific reasons why you should choose a Windows server. If you fit into this criteria, then Windows hosting is likely the best for you. However, if you do not fit into these then Linux opens up as an option that is definitively worthy of your consideration. There are several advantages to Linux hosting. These include:
Value – The price overall for Linux hosting is usually significantly better. Even if the initial web hosting package is not that much cheaper you typically have a lot more options available. Because you are using open source applications you are saving a lot of money while keeping your applications fully developed. This makes the cost come down overall from tech support to development and those savings are passed on to you.
Growth – Because you are dealing with open source applications that are continually being created by the community you have the opportunity for growth. More secure, more stable and more useful applications are continuously being developed. The growth of the environments and applications are not dependent on paid developers which expands the potential for out of the box thinking.
When choosing web hosting for your business or personal site you should make sure you have a package that is rich in features. You should ensure your web host has a high uptime percentage and guarantee to back it up. The customer support should suit your needs and your host should be reliable. It should also suit your budget.
The platform a web host uses, Linux or Windows, will not matter nearly as much unless you are using platform specific proprietary software. If this is the case, the platform may make a difference. If not, Linux is most often the best solution for your web hosting needs.
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