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Which Web Hosting Platform to Choose – Linux or Windows?

Web Hosting Platform

Web Hosting Platform is the operating system because of which a computer works. Linux and Windows are the most common operating systems used on web servers that host websites. To choose between the two one must know their differences and capabilities. Webmasters who are new might at times be unaware of the type of web hosting platform being used on their own servers.

Hardware being a machine can’t think or interpret for itself but with the aid of an operating system it can take instructions written in a software coding. Various web hosts usually offer both packages that give webmasters the option to choose their own web hosting platform. Linux and Windows, both have their own characteristic advantages.

Linux based plans are cheaper than Windows based hosting plans. This is because Linux is free open source software while Windows is proprietary software of Microsoft and has license fees for its usage. Recently Linux has gained lot of popularity and is a favorite choice of many web hosts. Besides being cost effective it is easier to use and quite stable web hosting platform. But that does not mean that it is one solution for all kinds of hosting requirements. There are many applications for which Windows web hosting platform is a must.

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Dispel These Misconceptions about Web Hosting Platform

Most new webmasters overlook the issue of choosing a web hosting platform because of some inherent misconceptions that they might carry. These have to be dispelled:

  • 1. The kind of operating system installed on your PC or home computer has nothing to do with the platform type that your web host will use for your website. These are two different identities and are not connected. People accessing your website will be doing so from the server that your web host uses and not your own home computer. You will be accessing your web account with the help of FTP or Control Panel that is suitable to the environment of your own computer. The important thing is to find out which application or software you are going to run on your website and does that work well with the web hosting platform being used by your web host?

  • 2. Your own knowledge, awareness or familiarity of a particular kind of operating system is in no way going to assist you in your decision to choose a web hosting platform. That is because if your website uses a particular application or script that can be supported by one and not the other, then you will have to go for that one even if you are not comfortable using it by yourself. The website should work smoothly on the server and operating system supported by your web host.

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Comparison of Linux vs. Windows Web Hosting Platform

Linux Web Hosting Platform

The world of web hosting is flooded with a number of packages to choose from. The first and foremost decision that you have to make is about the operating system or web hosting platform that will support your website. There is a basic difference between the visual and functional aspects of the web host servers. Based on your own requirements alone can you judge the most suitable web hosting platform and clear all confusion with regard to this. You will be further assisted if you can compare these two basic aspects of server environment. We give you a guideline:

1 - Software Application

If your website is going to use Windows (or Microsoft) specific products, software or applications like ASP, .NET, VB Script, Access, FrontPage, Microsoft SQL, Windows Streaming Media, etc then you will be well off choosing Windows hosting platform.

Similarly if your website has demand for PHP, Perl or MySQL database then it will be advisable to go for Linux hosting platform. Not that Windows can’t handle these but these application work better in Unix environment and Linux or FreeBSD are ideal for them.

Looking at it from a different perspective if your website is just a collection many static pages like those that are created in HTML and CSS then either Linux or Windows can work perfectly well. Since most websites are just like that, one usually finds various webmasters taking this whole issue of choosing a web hosting platform quite lightly. It is only for specific needs that you have to find a suitable operating system. But rather than repenting later if this issue can be solved in the first place itself it will save you lot of time and energy.

In case of websites working with active content one has to ensure a proper hosting platform. Usually one platform can do the work of the other too but it is advisable to support scripting languages in their native environment only. This ensures smooth running and fault free conditions.

2 - Price Factor

The price factor is the most easily recognizable difference between the two hosting platforms. Linux is a cheaper option as compared to Windows.

Windows is proprietary software of Microsoft and has license fees for its usage. The web host has to bear an additional cost to run web servers under Windows environment. Hence this platform is costlier.

On the other hand Linux is open source software that is free to use. Most free and budget hosting plans support Linux operating system. That doesn’t make it inferior. As we have seen earlier both the platforms have their own specific applications and have a place of their own. Linux hosting platform provides a lost cost solution without compromising on reliability.

3 - Reliability & Security

Both Linux and Windows provide considerably reliable hosting platform. However, between the two Linux based servers experience less downtime as compared to Windows based servers.

Linux hosting platform is more reliable, despite being an open source product, because its source code can be adapted by experienced programmers to suit their own maintenance and working requirements. Additionally with open source code they can install various security add-ons to create a secure environment. This ensures lower downtime, protection from third party viruses, hacker invasion and as a result more reliable.

Sometimes it will be observed that reliability and security is more of an issue with the kind of web host managing your account rather than the type of web hosting platform. Here reputation of an individual web host is more critical because the type of servers used and their management skills can really make a difference. On the face of it, Linux and Windows are two equally good operating systems where reliability and security are concerned, and any difference if at all, is just marginal.

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After having made comparison of features of both types of hosting platforms, you have to identify your own requirements. If your website demands Windows based technologies like ASP, .NET, MsSQL, or any other that is Windows based then your choice has to be obviously with Windows hosting platform. That will ensure you provide native environment to those applications and scripting languages.

On the other hand if you are planning to use PHP, Perl, Python or MySQL database, then ideally Linux hosting platform is the choice.

In the absence of any specific requirement, as in the case of most websites that have static pages, you can choose any platform you like. Here if cost is your primary concern then Linux is cheaper than Windows based hosting platform. Otherwise too, it is recommended that you opt for Linux hosting platform for its slight edge over the Windows web hosting platform in areas of reliability, ease of use, scalability, performance and security. It is for these reasons that Linux is the most preferred choice with many web hosts.

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