When you are choosing an operating system for web hosting, the two most popular options are Windows and Linux. Linux is known for its cost-effectiveness, and Windows is known for its support. Each type of hosting option has its strengths and weaknesses, just as when you choose between being a sexy pirate (strength: scimitar to ward off werewolves and vampires) or sexy nurse (strength: bedpan to ward off the same) for Halloween.
Each of the OS’s will allow you to get into the server via FTP. Linux additionally allows you to get in via Telnet or SSH, the former of which is sometimes available but uncommon for Windows. FTP requires you to pull a file from the computer onto the server, whereas the other two options allow you to organize files that are located on your computer directly when you are connected to the server. Additionally, if you know how to install git on Linux, you can use it not only to allow multiple users to work on a project at the same time, but also to eliminate the time lag caused by having to transfer files as it gets updated by one user and passed over to another.
Windows hosting control panels are generally considered low quality compared to cPanel, which is only available for Linux systems. This piece of software greatly simplifies the hosting user’s experience within a secure environment, and since it is widely thought preferable to Windows options, it’s a reason many Linux users prefer that operating system. cPanel is the talking parrot on the sexy pirate that is Linux.
The prices could be similar. Linux is open source so it is free to the hosting company, whereas the company incurred a cost for the operating system if they installed Windows. However, the operating system on the servers is only one factor in hosting pricing structures. Bear in mind though that hosting companies often use Linux servers specifically to give a low-cost option to clients – so you’ll probably end up saving money if you choose a company using Linux.
Linux is less likely to get hit by a virus or malware intrusions. However, note that though Linux has less vulnerability, neither operating system is completely secure. Even pirates can experience mutinies and be forced to walk the plank into shark-infested waters. Also consider the administration at the host company. That too is a crucial factor when gauging how secure your website will be.
Downtime, as you may know, is the time required to reboot the server. Linux is known for having significantly less downtime than Windows servers do. However, the differences here are variable. An administrator for a particular Linux hosting environment might schedule downtime more regularly than a particular Windows administrator does. Linux, though, is generally preferable in this regard.
Support for Technology
If your website is reliant on Microsoft technology, you’ll have to go with Windows servers. If that is not the case, you can use either operating system. Both generally have wide support. This is because both Linux and Windows are extremely, extremely sexy.
These are the two most common types of databases. The former is specific to Windows; mySQL, though available for either, will most typically be a part of a Linux system.
Writing Your Web Content
Common Gateway Interface (CGI)/Perl
Though available on both server systems, it is more common to have CGI and Perl available on Linux servers. If you want to be able to create forms, be sure the servers support one of the two or a similar processing method.
PHP, ASP, ColdFusion
When dealing with forms, these are three additional options for processing script. While ColdFusion is common between both operating systems, PHP is available with greater frequency on Linux, ASP with greater frequency on Windows.
You can see why Linux is preferred by many – especially regarding cost, security, and access to cPanel. However, Windows is really not that different of a hosting environment – plus you have access to all the Microsoft programs. Hopefully this overview has been helpful, and you are ready to either set sail on the high seas or give a patient a sponge bath. Here at Superb, we have Linux VPS and regular web hosting plans. We also have Windows VPS plans and regular Windows web hosting plans. You have get Linux or Windows on all of our dedicated servers.
by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood