Have you ever wondered which type of hosting you should use for your website?
There are three different types of operating systems on hosting servers:
Of these, you are most likely to come into contact with Windows and Linux operating systems. This is because Unix OS is usually used on servers, mainframes, and complex computing devices. The other two operating systems are used in more small scale systems, oriented more towards private consumers and users.
Let’s just say that unless you are a professional, you probably won’t have contact with a Unix based system, so let’s move on.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to decide which operating system was better for your purposes? We all want to use the best possible host for our website but often there isn’t anywhere that gives a sensible comparison.
If this sounds familiar, read on and we might be able to help you decide on the best host for your circumstances.
Which is most popular, Windows or Linux?
First of all, which operating system is the most popular. That’s always a good place to start as many companies have come up against the same questions as you and have eventually decided on what they think is the best.
According to the technology survey company W3Techs.com. As of November 2019, 35.3% of websites use Linux while 29.2% use Windows. These figures suggest that Linux is slightly more popular of the two. But why is that? Surely Windows OS will have all the ingenuity and resources of Microsoft behind it. Linux hosting, after all, is Open Source and you’d expect it to be strapped for cash.
The fact of the matter is that they both are designed for different purposes. These figures don’t actually compare which one is better, rather they show the relative purposes of the websites in question and how they are to be used.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between the two types of hosting. How they compare with stability, security and the underlying costs. By the time we finish chatting, you’ll probably know what to look for when deciding on your hosting company, which features to consider and eventually which operating system is the best for you.
So without further ado, let’s move on and do just that.
Choosing the best host. Windows or Linux?
Can I be totally honest with you? Every website owner and every website is completely different.
Some users might never expect using more than a single domain with a simple five-page HTML website. These guys will probably be most at home with a host offering minimum disk space and bandwidth and completely automated tools. The support team too will probably hold their hands during the initial setup, or maybe do the whole job for them. A hosting package like this will probably cost no more than $5 per month. Just perfect for a small startup business, or one that just wants an online presence.
Other users, on the other hand, might need to scale up their website rapidly as their online demands grow and they need more resources. They’ll also need a highly technical support team. You’ll only find a company like this using a skilled and careful review to ensure they know what they’re doing and can give you the support you need.
The simple solution to this problem is to be prepared and go into the search knowing exactly what you need. What part of your website means the most to you? How large is your budget? Do you need specialized tools or add-ons? Don’t be frightened to ask the hard questions, after all, you are the customer. If you spend time now finding the right host, you won’t have to waste time later on when you need to migrate everything to another hosting company. Not only that, your customers will thank you as well for having a website that is so easy to use.
So, believe it or not, we finally get back to the question of whether to choose Linux or Windows as a host.
If you are looking for a Linux host, you need one that allows you to easily use the common tools such as PHP and MySQL. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget it must be compatible with your preferred mail server. Be sure that all the tools you’re likely to need are included in the package. If necessary get advice from a professional. Having said all this, one of the best advantages of a Linux hosting package is the cost. Many shared hosting packages will cost less than $5 per month so there shouldn’t be any problem with budgeting.
There are many suitable Linux hosting companies available and you simply have to trawl through the many adverts available. Here are just three of the best, that we could find. You can probably find many more.
Windows hosting often costs more than Linux so consider all aspects and ensure they compare favorably with your requirements. The good thing about Windows hosting is that it’s compatible with other Microsoft applications. If you need more than a web host, say a managed Sharepoint site or an Exchange server, you need those as part of the package. Just ask if those options are available. Not only that, but ask if they’ll help you configure them too. You may need an MSSSQL server. If so then choose a Windows host. You may also require remote desktop access so ensure this is available as well.
There are many Windows hosts available but I’ll only mention three of the top recommended companies. It’s then up to you to choose the one that best suits your requirements.
What are the differences?
By now, you’ll have realized that choosing the best host, whether it is Linux or Windows, requires nerves of steel, the ability to wade through plenty of sales and marketing garbage and a good list of your requirements. To make life easier, we’ll now talk more about the differences and what they mean to you as the user.
Any good server administrator will tell you that the biggest difference between Windows and Linux is their stability.
Linux servers are more secure. They rarely need to be rebooted and if you have to change the configuration, you can usually do this without a restart.
Windows servers, unfortunately, become very unstable when working with multiple web, database, and file servers. If you think your system will need almost 100% uptime, then don’t choose a Windows server, go for a Linux.
Another big difference is the matter of security. Almost all the hacks affect Windows machines, worldwide. This is mainly because of the dominance of Windows-based PCs in the desktop market. Linux is also a Unix based operating system (remember Unix? We touched briefly upon it in the first section). There are certain rights management features found within Unix that allows for increased security in the operating system kernel. These allow only administrators to make changes to certain applications and directories. The administrator (root user) also has unlimited access to the files on the server, thus reducing the problems with hidden files that besets the average Windows user.
Having said all this, trying to navigate a Linux server is much more difficult than a Windows. If you’re experienced or have the time to learn, then Linux should be no problem. However, using the standardized Windows user interface makes it relatively easy for even a beginner to find solutions to problems.
Ask yourself these questions.
- What software will I be running? Other Microsoft products?
- Do I intend running an Exchange server?
- How about a Sharepoint site?
If the answers are yes, then go with a Windows server.
Otherwise, if the following is more your style
- I want to use WordPress
- I like using cPanel
- I’m not a fan of huge corporations
Then use Linux.
To sum up
Any good hosting company will give you all the information you ask for and provide help to secure your website. However, Windows products are susceptible to hacking despite what Microsoft tries to do to fix it. Linux servers will always be more secure, more stable, and more reliable. On top of this, you must consider the matter of pricing. Linux is definitely cheaper than Windows. In fact, there are plenty of free versions you can use unless you specifically want a premium version with all the whistles and bells that come with it.
Taking into account Windows software licenses, continual hardware upgrades to accommodate increasingly unwanted accessories, a Windows server can end up much more expensive over the lifetime of the system than if you use a Linux server.
The big secret in finding your way through all these obstacles is to have a definite goal in mind and stick to it. Both Linux and Windows have their drawbacks and advantages and it’s up to you to decide which one will best serve your needs. Picking the best hosting company, and using the best operating system for your purposes will help your website run as intended.