Understanding Differences Between Windows and Linux Web Hosting

When looking for a Web hosting provider, one of the first things you often have to consider is what operating system the server will run.

Several Operating Systems to Choose From
* Linux
Linux is one of the more popular operating systems on the Web, mostly because it is so cheap to install and get up and running.
* Macintosh
Macintosh hosting servers are very uncommon. In fact, if you want to host your site on a Macintosh server, you'll probably have to look into hosting it yourself.
* Unix
Unix is very similar to Linux, but not as common on Web hosting services, usually because it is more expensive and the hardware is more specific.
* Windows
Windows is another popular operating system for Web hosting providers because it has a lot of support.

Linux and Windows are the two most common and readily available operating systems, and there are many good reasons for using both. Unix systems are very similar to Linux (and Mac OSX systems are as well) but as I mentioned above, Macintosh systems are few and far-between.

Difference between Linux and Windows web hosting.

Windows Web Hosting
Windows hosting is a good option for people who are familiar with Microsoft technologies, as this is a MS product and easily integrates with other MS products. Windows hosting supports various popular frameworks such as ColdFusion and ASP.net., as well as SQL databases.

Linux Web Hosting
Even more widespread than Windows, Linux hosting is one of the most common web hosting options available today. The main reason for its popularity is that it is very affordable. As a result, a majority of new businesses opt for Linux hosting in order to minimize start-up costs.
Linux supports popular languages such as PHP, Perl, and Ruby on Rails, and serves MySQL databases.

Let us compare window and Linux hosting step by step

The Cost Factor
The biggest difference between Windows and Linux web hosting is cost. Linux services are much lower-priced than Windows services. This is due to the fact that many Windows technologies are licensed, which drives up costs.

Accessing the Server
The first difference that most people notice with Web hosting operating systems is how you access the server. Both Windows and Linux offer FTP access to your files, but only Linux will generally offer telnet or ssh access. (It's possible to set up telnet access on Windows, but very few hosting administrators offer it.) FTP is a way of transferring your files from your hard drive to your Web server. Telnet and SSH are a way to open a window directly on the Web server and manipulate files right there, usually using Unix command line commands.

Closed vs. Open
Other differences lie at the core of the operating system. Windows Server is a commercial product that you need to buy an operating license for, so you can run the server software. Linux, on the other hand, is typically known as “Open Source” software, has both paid and free versions available, and generally runs under a GPL license. As you would expect, the amount of support for the different versions varies greatly. However, most corporate run on a paid version put out by a company named “Red Hat Linux”. They have managed to associate themselves with several of the larger hosting companies and control panel suppliers, capturing a large share of the commercial market.
A list of most Linux distributions can be found at

Because of the difference in licensing terms, Linux as an operating system has gained more widespread usage. It is not to say that Linux is better or worse than Microsoft Windows, it is just that it used by many more people and services a different clientele.

Writing Your Pages
Both Windows and Linux servers will serve HTML pages and JavaScript. Typically, Windows servers use files named *.htm while Linux servers use files named *.html, but there is no real difference between these names, just what you prefer. FrontPage extensions are often cited as the reason to use a Windows server. But there are Linux servers that offer this service as well.

CGI and Perl
CGI and Perl access are often found on both Windows and Linux servers, but it is more typical on Linux. If you need to program forms, you should make sure that your hosting service provides CGI or another way to process them.

Other Server-Side Scripts
But you're not stuck with just Perl if you need to process forms. Many hosting systems offer PHP, ASP, and ColdFusion. These server side scripting options give you a lot of flexibility. PHP is more often found on Linux systems, while ASP is more often found on Windows. ColdFusion can be found on both.

If you're going to run a dynamically driven Web site, then you'll want a database. The two most popular are mySQL and Access. mySQL runs on both Linux and Windows, but is more often found on Linux servers. Access is only available for Windows.

Web Server Security
If you do some research on Google, you’ll see a lot of pages on the web that swear up and down that Windows servers are more secure than Linux servers or that Linux hosting is infinitely more secure than Windows hosting. The fact is, both have security vulnerabilities that crop up. With either OS, you’re going to want to make sure you stay up to date with all the patches and security updates to keep your server “hardened” against attacks.

To the general visitor to your website, there will be no external differences between Linux hosting and Windows hosting. While a web savvy individual will be able to find out what operating system is running your website, the average, every day visitor won’t be able to tell the difference unless you tell them.

Which is Better?
Window and Linux Hosting each have their strengths as well as weaknesses. Some people say that Windows is better suited for intra-office corporate networks, and Linux based hosting for small to medium business Internet websites. Others will say both are equally capable of both scenarios.
Make a decision as to which operating system is better for you. Your web professional can provide you a better idea of what resources your website will need to run effectively and which web hosting is better.

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Bonnie Parrish mod

You are right, it depends on need of user that which hosting he should look for.
Normally big sites are created using ASP.NET, which requires window hosting.

As working in hosting company i realised that:
For a web hosting company, there are some big disadvantages to Windows.

First are the licensing fees for the Windows server OS, which I gather are pretty steep.

Second is the difficulty of customizing Windows to suit the web host's needs and desires.

Third is that the Windows OS chews up a lot more overhead on a server than linux, Unix etc, so you end up needing more horsepower to take care of a comparable user load.

In the highly-competitive web host market, those three things lessen the profit margin.

Also, another Problem to Linux over Windows is: Historically, Linux is a much more stable OpSys (Operating System) than Windows. Linux machines have far fewer problems than Windows machines do.

If you see in hosting companies you get more support requests on the Windows machines than on Linux.


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