Linux vs. Windows: Why Your Web Host’s Operating System Matters
Just Host or GoDaddy? iPage or Lunarpages? Is Webhosting Hub right for you, or would you be better off with Arvixe? If you’re trying to choose a web host, your decision may come down to one question: Linux or Windows?
Linux and Windows have risen above the competition, and now almost all web hosts use one or the other. Either one will get the job done, but they’re very different. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you make your decision.
Linux: Free, Safe, and Flexible
Webhosts that use a Linux server often sell hosting plans for a lower price. Why? Because the Linux operating system has one huge plus: it’s FREE! This OS is open-source software, which means you can download it for free and change the code as you please.
Another plus? Safety. In fact, most web developers consider Linux to be just as safe, or even safer, than Windows. Most viruses are designed to run on Windows – which means they don’t affect Linux at all. That’s not to say that Linux is 100% immune to malware – but you’re much less likely to contract a nasty virus on a Linux OS. In fact, there are only about 40 known viruses for Linux, and 60,000 for Windows!
So Linux is both free and safe, but there is a downside: Because this OS is open-source there’s no single provider (like Microsoft) to go to for updates, patches, support, and applications. You’ll have to go to another open-source entity or wait until a commercial provider, like Redhat, releases an update or patch. This extra step can be a turnoff for some users. Anyway, this is not really a big issue because most host providers today provide full support to their servers. They will be able to help you up on this.
Web developers love the flexibility that comes with Linux—unlike Windows, this OS lets you do high-level coding, like kernel modifications. But the average website builder might not have that kind of expertise, or want to go through the trouble of learning the ins and outs of Linux.
Popular webhosts that run on a Linux server include iPage, WebHosting Hub, and Just Host. These webhosts offer Linux open-source features like PHP programming, Perl programming, and MySQL databases. The combination of PHP and Perl programming with the MySQL databases makes it possible to code almost anything on Linux.
Windows: User Friendly and Well-Supported
Choosing a webhost that uses a Windows server will generally cost more because each OS license must be purchased from Microsoft. All those licenses can add up fast! But while Windows is far from free like Linux, it is easier for most people to use. For example, Windows servers, software, and drivers all have a standard for installation and you can get all of them in one place. Installing Linux is a much bigger headache, and you have to research software and drivers yourself and then figure out how to install them. Windows gives you a Setup file for installation, whereas Linux users must install from a source code.
We talked about the flexibility of Linux earlier—developers can change all of the code and effectively make it into anything they want. Windows is not as flexible as Linux as far as coding modifications goes, but it is stable and easier to configure. Also, you don’t have to go looking for updates and applications—you can go to Microsoft for everything you need. This includes tech support, which is more difficult to find for Linux.
Popular webhosts that use a Windows server include Lunarpages, GoDaddy, and Myhosting.com. These webhosts use ASP.NET and Microsoft.NET, XML, Access, and SOAP. ASP is a coding language that only works in Windows and many developers prefer it over others.
|Price||Free! Web hosting plans vary.||Varies, but usually at least $100 per license. Web hosting plans vary, but many will offer competitive plans to keep up with Linux hosts.|
|Ease of Use||A different environment for new users. Requires somewhat a level of expertise than Windows.||Recent advancements have made Windows easier|
|Security||Although it can still be attacked, Linux is very secure||Much less secure than Linux. Many viruses run on Windows.|
|Features||MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, XML||ASP, Access, XML, SOAP. Can use MySQL but this is more often found on Linux|
|Popular Web Hosts|
Which One Should I Choose?
If you’re trying to decide between a Linux- and a Windows-based web host, you should decide which features and benefits matter the most: Are you worried about viruses? Do you need to keep costs super-low? Is tech support a must-have? How tech-savvy are you?
The bottom line? Both operating systems will get the job done. If you want complete control over your code and don’t want to buy expensive software licenses, then Linux might be right for you. But if you need something a little easier to use and don’t want to waste time searching for tech support and applications, then give Windows a shot.