When you decide to launch a new website you will need web hosting to house your website. The web host or server is the computer that stores your website content such as text, images and databases.
Most web hosting providers offer two kinds of operating systems for the server: Linux and Windows. Then you have to make a choice: should you use Windows hosting or Linux hosting?
Busting the Myths Regarding Web Host Operating Systems
For many newbies to web hosting, it may seem natural to insist upon a web host that is running the same OS platform as the OS they are using in their own computers.
It may be natural to think so, but so is thinking that the sun revolves around the earth. It’s simply wrong. The truth of the matter is that there is no connection at all between the OS of the web host and the OS of the computer you’re using. The Windows on a web host is not the Windows OS you see on your computer.
What you need to understand is that there is nothing on your computer you can run on the web hosting system, just as there is nothing on the web hosting system that needs to run on your computer.
What runs on a web host computer has to be specially made, and these aren’t programs that run on your PC. So you can use a Windows OS, or a Linux or OS X for that matter, and that would not be a factor at all in whether you should use Windows or Linux for your server.
So having established this important fact, what are the factors you need to consider when choosing between Linux or Windows hosting?
Why Choose Linux
Linux is an operating system developed from the open source community. As such, you can find a lot of applications and ready-made solutions tailored to fit to a Linux environment. And if you don’t know much about the technical stuff, then Linux will work well for you.
Linux will also work very well if you particularly need PHP, Perl or a MySQL database. These things can also work well with Windows, but some of the scripts you download may have to be modified if they are to work on a Windows server.
Now there is a rather old debate going on about Linux security. Since it is a completely open source OS, then it stands to reason that hackers may know exactly how to go about attacking such a system. On the other hand, many programmers will also know about these vulnerabilities and protect against them too.
Linux-based hosting is by far the more popular choice of operating system. It’s open-source, inexpensive, widely adopted, reliable and secure.
Why Choose Windows
Windows and all the software that run on it are not open source at all. It has been developed solely by Microsoft. So if you particularly wish to use Microsoft technologies such as ASP scripts, .NET, Microsoft SQL Server, and the Access database, then Windows is your most logical choice.
These technologies may run on a Linux server, but again there may be some need for slight modifications first.
The one complaint about the Windows security is that because the OS and the MS programs are all interdependent, it may be easier for a hacker to take control of the entire server.
Windows-based hosting is only really needed if your website needs to use Windows software such as ASP scripts, .NET, Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint etc.
Both operating systems will work great. Both will run popular Internet technologies very well. FTP and email along with other standard functions will be fine on either OS too.
So it all boils down to the software you want to use. If you want Microsoft software, then you need Windows. If not, then Linux is your best choice.
If you are unsure which type of web hosting is required, then it means Linux is the way to go. After all, a 2013 study found that 83% of enterprises use Linux on their server.
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