When you're trying to find a hosting plan for your website, the onslaught of options can initially be terrifying. One of the most baffling is the common choice you have between Linux hosting and Windows hosting. What this means is that the server, or computer that holds your website's files, will either be running on the Linux operating system or the Windows operating
- When people search for a web host, nearly everyone sees "Linux hosting" and immediately thinks: "That won't work, because I use Windows." The truth is that the operating
systemyou personally use and are comfortable with, whether it's Windows, Mac OS, or Linux/Unix, doesn't make any difference. If your website uses a Linux server and you've always used Windows, for example, everything will be compatible and you won't need to learn even a little bit of Linux to effectively run your site.
- For most people, whether their site is running on a Linux or Windows server actually won't make much of a difference at all. The most popular website services, such as the server-side language PHP, the database management
systemMySQL, and the email server software POP3, are readily available on both systems and come with most hosting plans. You'll be able to access your files on both systems through either your host's control panel or an FTP client (a program that allows you to quickly transfer files to and from your computer and the server).
- While Windows is proprietary software owned by Microsoft, Linux is open source, so running Linux servers is cheaper for the web host. However, that's mostly something for your host to worry about; you're not likely to see a big price difference between Linux plans and Windows plans. Where Linux does have a slight leg up is speed; Linux runs processes somewhat faster than Windows and is leaner than Windows because Windows tends to bundle all of Microsoft's proprietary web services onto its system.
- The main reason to use a Windows server is so you have access to Microsoft's technology: the ASP.NET framework, the MSSQL database server, the Microsoft Access database management program, and Visual Basic scripts, among other features. If you're comfortable using these technologies already or you'd like to join the large community of web developers who use them, you'll need a Windows server.
- If you want to use Microsoft's proprietary technology, get a Windows server. Otherwise, the choice between a Linux and Windows server matters a lot less than the capability and reputation of your web host. Both operating systems are very comparable in terms of reliability and security, so the real choice is finding a web host with good support, a strong record, and the right price.