What are the differences between Linux and Windows Hosting?
What are Linux and Windows?
Linux and Windows are operating systems that are used by the servers to do their intended purpose. There are several different flavors of Linux including traditional Unix operating systems, and Windows also come in several different versions such as NT, 2000 and 2003 Servers. To decide on the right hosting plan, you might want to use this guideline to better understand the differences and benefits of each platform. Many of us use Windows desktop PCs, but that has little to do with which server platform you should decide on. The real decision criteria should be what you want your website to do, and what type of programming tools you'll use to build your website.
Linux Hosting - what are advantages and disadvantages?
Linux is an open source version of Unix, which has been a defacto standard for providing reliable and stable operating platform to corporate environments for over 3 decades. Linux has been widely used in the hosting industry for providing web server, email hosting, database and DNS services. It is very reliable, stable and cost-effective.
The important question about using Linux is what type of applications, programming languages, and databases are you planning to use on your hosting account. There are hundreds of thousand publicly available open source applications and utilities that you can use without paying a single dime, if you choose to use Linux plan. Some of the most popular scripting languages include PHP, Perl, and Python; and Linux also supports MySQL and Postgres databases.
If you do not require Windows specific application, choosing a Linux platform will work out well in terms of site reliability and costs. Most web hosts spend less money on software licenses when providing services on the Linux machines than on the Windows machines. To compensate for this additional cost incurring on Windows hosting, most web hosts charge more for Windows hosting.
A web site designed to be hosted on a Linux server can be easily moved to a Windows server, whereas reverse is not always true. One subtle difference in how filenames and directories are used on Linux servers is that the names are case sensitive whereas Windows is case-insensitive. Also, most scripting tools available on Linux are now supported on Windows, so moving some of the dynamic contents are also possible when moved from Linux to Windows. This is true because most open source tools are designed to support multiple platform, and are also available free of charge. For this reason and historical reasons, Linux/Unix based web hosting is most widely used compared to Windows based hosting.
Windows Hosting - what are advantages and disadvantages?
Windows operating system is a proprietary solution designed by Microsoft, and there are cost associated with a software license. Not only operating system, but also other applications designed to run on Windows have price tags, and there aren't too many open source (free) alternatives. This leads web hosts to spend more money on supporting Windows hosting than Linux counterpart, and likely have higher hosting price.
Linux (or Unix) operating system has been around for 40 years, where Windows has been around for only 10 years. The Unix operating systems have known to be very stable and robust, and have very high up-time. Windows having lesser user base and shorter history, it has not yet proven to be stable and reliable in early years. However, with gaining user base especially in corporate users has improved its reliability significantly over the recent years, and so it is believed to be equally stable as the Linux servers nowadays.
Windows being a commercial product, the applications developed to run on Windows are tied to its operating system. The .NET infrastructure, ASP and SQL Databases are designed to only run on Windows platform. The architecture provides a very user friendly development platform, and offers users to develop applications in less time. If you are Windows developer or happens to use one or more applications designed to run on Windows, you do not have much choice but to choose Windows platform.
Due to its commercial state, it's hard to move a website designed to run on Windows to a Linux based hosting plan. The tools available on Windows such as .NET and ASP are simply not available on Linux -- although there is an exception, but for the sake of this discussion I think it's not worthwhile discussing MONO. One additional thing to note is that Windows filenames are case-insensitive, so when moving files from Windows to Linux, an attention has to be given to retain case sensitivity on the Linux server. Otherwise, some of the images and links may not resolve correctly on Linux server after moved from Windows based hosting.
If you're an average person not tied to Windows technology, Linux based hosting plan will provide you with cost-effective solution to your web hosting need with added reliability and stability. If, however, you need to use Windows server technologies such as .NET, ASP and SQL Server databases, Windows based hosting is needed.
This article is written by Scott Seong, President and CEO of Edula, Inc. If you have questions or comments about this article, please forward them to email@example.com.