Linux Or Windows Web Hosting? Part-2

As we continue with our Linux and Windows comparison for the operating system to choose when looking for a web hosting plan, we now take a look at the Windows operating systems.

Windows Operating System

The Windows operating system is developed and owned by Microsoft, which means it is expensive to set up and run a Windows server.  However, the fact that it is expensive to run a Windows server does not necessarily mean that the hosting plans are more expensive than Linux-based ones. You are sure to find some hosting plans that are cheaper than Linux.

What You Get With Windows Hosting

  • Windows hosts can offer their users Microsoft-licensed technologies and applications like .NET, ASP, Visual Interdev, Visual Basic and ColdFusion.
  • Offers good support for websites created using Microsoft FrontPage. But when using a Linux or Unix-based host, it is important to make sure that the company supports FrontPage extensions used on the website.  Other applications by Microsoft are not supported by the Linux or Unix hosting providers.
  • For people looking for Microsoft’s MSSQL database, Windows hosting is the best choice, unless one is looking for an enterprise class database, for which a Linux platform can offer different features.
  • Access databases are only available with Windows hosting and not found on Linux hosting.  For webmasters looking to integrate their site with an Access database, a Windows hosting plan is needed.  To use Access database on other servers, it has to be converted and this is a difficult process.
  • Windows OS also comes with plenty of support, making it easier for webmasters.
  • People who use Windows on their computers will find it easy to use or maintain a Windows-based server.

The cons, if any, of using Windows hosting are the expenses involved pertaining to the licensing costs imposed by Microsoft.

Similarities Between Windows and Linux

  • Both the servers support JavaScript and HTML pages.  Windows servers use .htm and Linux servers use .html files, but these names do not really mean anything as there is no difference.
  • Although, FrontPage extensions are more popular with Windows servers, even Linux servers offer them.
  • CGI and Perl access are found on both the servers, but more common to Linux.

Webmasters who need to program forms should ensure CGI is offered by the hosting plan or that some other server-side scripts like ASP, PHP and ColdFusion are offered to process them.  While ColdFusion is available on both, ASP is found on Windows and PHP on Linux.

In conclusion, for most small businesses, Linux-based hosting plans work great as they are efficient to use, cost effective and come with a lot of features. Windows plans are preferred for MSSQL, Access, Windows Streaming Media and all specific Microsoft technologies.  Linux offers very limited support for these technologies which can prove to be expensive without really offering much.

For those looking for Macintosh hosting servers, since they are uncommon with web hosts, it may be required to self-host such websites.  Although, Unix is very similar to Linux, it is not as popular or common due to its hardware being more specific as well as being expensive.

Both Linux and Windows servers are coming up with new features, in terms of features, reliability and security. Which one do you prefer?

That’s a difficult question to answer and depends on your needs.  If you need the highest level of security, then you may look at Linux.  If you are looking for compatibility with Microsoft products, then Windows is for you, but it is going to be more expensive than other operating systems. Looking for PHP compatibility?  Then, look at Linux. Now you know that it is really more about what your needs are, rather than which one is the best.

But then again, it is important to keep in mind that when using technologies that are server specific, it becomes difficult to change hosts, as compared to using technologies that can be used on any system.  Unless you are looking for features that are exclusive to one particular platform, it may be a better idea to go ahead and settle with a good host rather than break your head over the server to use.

This article is a continuation of:  Linux or Windows Web Hosting? Part-1

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