When searching for web hosting you will typically run across a multitude of hosts that utilize a Linux platform, as well as a plethora that use a Windows platform. There are even some hosts that offer both options readily to their customers.
Because many people use Windows as their home operating system they think this is the better solution. Many believe that this will also cause them to specifically choose a Windows platform in their web hosting. However, the truth is that most people will be able to use a Linux platform without problematic instances. Sometimes the choice for Windows hosting is a personal preference and other times it is a necessity.
Linux Vs. Windows: The great debate
The fact is, it is often more important to concentrate your efforts in finding a host that is most reliable, as well as the best suited to your particular needs, regardless of the platform used. There are, however, several topics of debate that are used when comparing Windows vs. Linux in order to determine which platform is best. They include:
Price – Historically Windows servers were more expensive. In the majority of web hosts this is still the case. However, the price is coming down due to the competitive nature of the industry, and you will find plenty of hosts that now offer Windows hosting at the same price or at a price difference that is negligible. Price, therefore becomes less of an issue than expected with both systems becoming fairly comparable. If your budget is extremely tight, though, you can typically find Linux cheaper at more hosts.
Features – Both Linux and Windows have a variety of features available that will allow you to accomplish your goals. Both platforms will allow you to run scripts, create pages, blog, install forums and more with very little difference. If you need a full spectrum of features, you will likely get all you need regardless of platform you choose.
Performance – Performance is something that is often debated. Linux consistently performs slightly better than Windows but there is a caveat to that. First, the difference will likely not be noticed by most customers. The reason there is a difference in performance is due to how each platform is offered. Linux offers a platform that is extendable and Windows is all-in-one. Therefore, with Windows you are getting everything at once which may cause some slowing in performance. Most of this difference is negligible and will never be noticed, however, if this is a primary concern, you may want to choose Linux.
Security – Security is another often debated issue between Windows and Linux. Because of security issues surrounding the home operating system and the popularity of it as an operating system there is the idea that Linux is more secure. However, this is a fallacy. There are also hacks into the Linux system. Both have the potential for vulnerabilities. However, where this becomes an issue is not the platform itself but the staff who monitor it. If a web host has skilled IT administrators and robust monitoring software, security issues will likely not be a problem.
Windows specific features
When considering the differences between Windows and Linux there are really very few differences. Even when differences do occur, there is a lot of debate as to which one comes in favorably. The main deciding factor, though, of whether or not you should use Windows comes down to whether or not you use Windows specific applications. These may include:
ASP – This is a basic application framework web designers may use to create pages.
FrontPage – This is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web page creator that allows you to create pages and forms within your site and then easily upload them to your site.
.NET – This is a software framework that provides a variety of solutions such as security, connectivity, application development and more.
Windows Streaming Media – This is a means of serving audio and video to the public and is often used for band sites or for movie trailers.
Access – This is a database system similar to MySQL often used as the back bone of various applications.
MSSQL – This is a relational database system often used with Cold Fusion or ASP
Any Windows proprietary application will be better served on a Windows platform simply because it is designed to work that way. Many Windows applications can be used on Linux via work arounds and add ons but they may not be secure or as robust as what is provided with Windows.
Thus, if you use any Windows proprietary applications as a primary function of your site, you may want to consider concentrating your efforts to Windows hosting. But, if you do not, the platform you choose will likely not matter one bit. Instead you should concentrate on the reputation, features and price for the package you are considering.
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