Linux vs Windows Web Hosting

linux-vs-windows-hosting

Linux and Windows are the two most common and readily available operating systems, and there are many good reasons for using both. So when comparing between Linux vs Windows web hosting, what should one choose?

Before we begin, let me clear a few misconceptions. Just because you use a Windows desktop PC doesn’t mean you have to opt for Windows Web Hosting (and the reverse is true as well). What is important is that you should know what you want to have for hosting your website. The choice of operating system for hosting primarily depends on what kind of development language or database you might use for your website. This is what will ultimately help determine what will work best for you. In deciding which OS is better for your website, it is important to know the differences between the two, as well as their relative benefits and limitations.

The Basics

Windows web hosting is a good option for people who are familiar with Microsoft technologies, as this is a Microsoft product and easily integrates with other Microsoft products. The main reason for its popularity is that it has a lot of support from the vendor.

Linux Web Hosting is even more widespread than Windows today. The main reason for its popularity is that it is affordable. As a result, a majority of new businesses opt for Linux hosting in order to minimize start-up costs. It’s typically found to be the most reliable, stable, robust and efficient system. A web site housed on a Linux operating system will have very high up-time (of the order of 99.9%). It allows users to easily set permissions and password-protect directories.

The Myth

Although many people consider Linux to be more secure than Windows, both operating systems are equally secure. Security really depends more upon the server setup and the administrators managing the server – regardless of OS. Factors such as power supply, server admin skills and network load etc. also matter when it comes to maintaining the system uptime.

Linux vs Windows Web Hosting

Windows Web Hosting Linux Web Hosting
What is it?
Windows is the family of operating system (OS) developed by Microsoft Linux is an Open Source software developed by community
File System Support
FAT, FAT32, NTFS, exFAT Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, Jfs, ReiserFS, Xfs, Btrfs, FAT, FAT32, NTFS
Threat Detection and Solution
After detecting a major threat in Windows OS, Microsoft generally releases a patch and update that can fix the problem Linux is mainly community driven and whenever a threat is reported, several developers start working on it from different parts of the world
Applications
  • ASP Classic, ASP.NET
  • MSSQL, MS Access
  • Visual Basic Development, C#
  • Remote Desktop
  • SSH
  • FrontPage Extensions
  • Scripts or applications that require specific Apache modules
Control Panel
Plesk is used for Windows-based hosting plans cPanel/WHM is used for Linux-based hosting plans
File Names
Windows files are not case sensitive.For example: home.html, Home.html and HOME.HTML are all the same Linux files are case sensitive.For example: home.html and Home.html are different names
Accessing the Server
FTP access FTP access and Telnet or SSH
Writing Your Pages
  • HTML pages and JavaScript
  • FrontPage extensions
  • CGI and Perl access is limited
  • HTML pages and JavaScript
  • FrontPage extensions
  • CGI and Perl access. More typical on Linux
Other Server-Side Scripts
ASP, ASP.NET and ColdFusion PHP and ColdFusion
Databases
MS SQL, MySQL and MS Access MySQL
Cost of Ownership
High. Windows technologies are licensed, which drives up costs. Low. Linux can be freely distributed and downloaded. There are priced versions for Linux also, but they are normally cheaper than Windows.
Moving between Hosts
A web site designed to be hosted on a Windows based web server cannot be hosted on a Linux web server easily A web site designed to be hosted on a Linux based web server can be hosted on a Windows web server easily

Summary

So when comparing Linux vs Windows web hosting, we can say without any specific preface or context that this really is an apples vs oranges comparison. Frankly speaking, there is nothing better or worse about either Linux or Windows Web Hosting. Both platforms are simply different tools for different scenarios.

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5 thoughts on “Linux vs Windows Web Hosting

  1. Oh dear, so much information missing here from just about every section. Let me just name a few.

    Applications:
    There are so many that come with windows and Linux as standard, primarily you missed IIS web server for a start, plus all the various modules it supports, which is a core part of the web server.

    Control Panel:-
    again many missed, there are quite a few other control panel systems, here is just one list
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_hosting_control_panels

    Accessing the Server:
    right out of the box windows also supports RDP, WebDav, Network fileshare. There are also other options.

    Server Side Scripts:
    So much missing here, you have also implied Windows does not support PHP, which it does, very well.
    Also Perl, Node.js, Ruby, Java, python, Grails, and many dozens more on both Windows and Linux.

    Databases:
    again many missed, such as PostgreSQL, Oracle, Firebird, Mongo, CouchDB, and many more on both Windows and Linux.

    Cost of Ownership:
    This is simply wrong. The cost to run windows with an equivalent setup to Linux is not high. Many hosts will provide you with Windows Incense for free on a VPS, otherwise you can get it on a low monthly cost using SPLA. Additional cost comes with support if you are not able to manage your own server, this is more likely to be higher with a Linux server if you have no prior knowledge.

    Moving Between Hosts
    Custom written apps are the ones which will cause you problems, and this will even be moving between same OS on different hosts, due to hard coded paths and the likes.

    A PHP site for example which is the most common language, will usually run fine on both Linux and windows, especially the more popular open source apps like WordPress.
    You are more like to have issues moving a site which was written specifically on Windows to Linux due to case sensitivity in filenames, but any type of cart or CMS which has been written and tested to work on both should run on both.

    • Hi,

      Firstly, thanks for reading the article. Also thanks for your time and effort for your your well-thought out comment. I really appreciate that. You have raised good points that clearly have something to say. These definitely help in contributing to the differences of Windows and Linux Hosting.

      Through my article, I have tried to touch on only the basic differences which one should primarily consider before choosing the right alternative for hosting.

  2. Pingback: How to Choose a Web Hosting Service Provider? | DEV IT Journal

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