Should I choose Windows hosting
or Linux hosting for my website?
Webmasters searching for a hosting package have struggled with this
question for years!
If you're a casual webmaster and your non-commercial website consists of static HTML pages that were generated with boxed software, you're most likely hosted on a Linux server.
Linux is the best overall solution for your web hosting needs because Linux hosting costs less and you rarely need to delve into the more advanced functions. Thus the server operating system is a non-issue. All that's required is to have a good web host.
When you reach the point where you want your site to have more complex features, like a members only area, e-commerce capabilities, live support, etc., then the server operating system might then be important. Interactive features for your website must rely on server side programs that process your site visitor's input and returns something intelligent.
There are many programs that provide such interactivity out there, but the most common ones are ASP, PHP, and Perl.
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). The operating system you use on your desktop has little to do with your choice of web hosts. As long as you understand how to use your FTP or web publishing software, your web host can use either operating system.
But what is important is that you know what you want your website to do and what you want to offer on it. This is what will ultimately help determine the type of web hosting that will work best for you. As mentioned earlier, interactive websites usually rely on ASP, PHP, or Perl type languages.
Each of these languages has it's own strengths and weaknesses, and occasionally one can give you something the others can't, although not very often.
PHP and Perl are Linux based while ASP is based on Windows. If you opt to use ASP to power your web site, then you should go with Windows hosting. You might be told that ASP is available on Linux hosting packages and that's true. But keep in mind it might not work as well on a Linux server as it does on Windows.
The reverse is also true of course. While you can use PHP or Perl on a Windows server, they weren't developed for that platform and they might not work as well. In fact, there are usually disclaimers about using them on Windows servers. Some hosts have successfully implemented these programming languages for the different platforms, but not all.
Be very clear about the scripts you plan to use because server configurations for Windows can be very different from Linux. Because of this the script could fail or not function at it's full potential. It's always best to go with the platform the scripting language was built for.
You'll probably be told that Linux servers are more secure. This is because Linux web hosting has consistently been reliable while Windows is a large target for exploitation.
In regards to web hosting, it boils down to one thing: No matter how secure the operating system is, your website will not be secure if your host has not configured it correctly and it isn't updated often or quickly.
Both Linux and Windows servers offer good speed and performance. The hosting hardware is a major factor here. Again, look to your web hosting provider. Do they upgrade well before they actually have to or do they max out the resources before doing so?
In conclusion, the key to deciding if you should go with a Windows or Linux host is what you want your website to do now, and in the foreseeable future.
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