When looking for a web hosting provider for your website, you will most likely be choosing between the ‘Big Two’ operating systems (OS) to host on- Linux vs Windows web hosting servers. Based on a W3tech report as of early 2017, the market share leans favorably towards Linux over Microsoft. Unix servers account for more than 66% of all web servers they surveyed, and Windows represents around 33.3%.
When making a web hosting decision between the two operating systems, you must consider the needs of your website and the way it will be presented on the internet. Clearly, if you have only standard HTML pages on your website, then it does not matter which OS you go for as both will serve your needs. If you are planning to design dynamic websites, work with forms and execute web applications both systems will serve your needs. They work with a number of frameworks and front end programming languages. Both these web hosting platforms have impressive features when it comes to hosting. Linux and Windows approach data management in the same way. And both systems have easy, convenient and fast FTP tools to serve a wide range of file management functions. But there are some differences between Linux and Windows hosting, when it comes to stability, security, pricing, database formats that can influence the functions of your hosting.
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Window vs Linux Web hosting: What’s the Difference?
The most glaring difference between Linux and Windows web hosting is the core operating system that runs on the server(s) and the user interface. Linux uses some form of the Linux kernel, which is typically free. There are of course paid distributions, such as Red Hat, which comes with a number of special features specifically designed for better server performance. Windows comes with a licensing fee because Microsoft develops and owns this OS and there are software licenses and hardware upgrades to consider too. Over its lifespan, Linux servers generally cost significantly less than a similar Windows-based one.
- Software Support
You also need to consider script languages and database applications that are required to host the website before choosing an OS. If your website needs Windows-based scripts or database application to display properly, then you should go for a Windows web hosting platform. Sites that have been developed with Microsoft ASP.NET, ASP Classic, MSSSQL, MS Access, SharePoint technologies will also need to use Windows servers. Whereas if your website requires Linux-based script or database software, then Linux based web hosting platforms should be selected. If you are likely to use Apache modules, NGINX or development tools like Perl, PHP, or Python with a MySQL database, then Linux has a large support structure for these formats.
- Control Panel And Dev Tools
Another point of difference in these two web hosting options is that Linux uses control panels like cPanel or WHM and Windows uses Plesk. cPanel has a simple user-friendly interface and users can download applications, such as WordPress, phpBB, Drupal, Joomla, and more via one-click installs. It is also easy to create and manage MySQL databases and configure PHP with cPanel, which automatically updates the software packages too. This powerful control panel makes it easy to setup new email addresses, configure mailbox size limits or even point your mail client to the correct ports. cPanel makes it easy for even people with no coding knowledge to create websites, blogs, and wiki pages. You can get tasks done faster without having to learn the details of every package installed.
Plesk can help you run the Windows version of the Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP stack. Plesk also supports Docker, Git, and other advanced security extensions. There are many unique tools available in a Windows server too, such as the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI), which helps in installation of the IIS (Internet Information System web server), MSSQL, and ASP.NET stack, quickly and simultaneously.
There are loads of open-source Linux applications available online because it has been around longer. By contrast, Windows hosting has fewer apps to choose from but they all come from vetted licensed providers which helps to streamline database deployment.
- Performance And Security
Most reputable web hosts should be able to secure your website from the administrative end but recent online attacks on Windows servers show that they may be more vulnerable than Linux servers. But that is not to say that Linux does not have any security issues. Security ultimately does depend on using good passwords, applying necessary patches, the rack being used and its support. It does help that cPanel can keep both web applications and software packages up to date without any interaction from the human.
Linux server stability and reliability is considered superior to Windows. They rarely need to be rebooted and configuration changes usually do not need a restart. Whereas, running multiple database and file servers on Windows can make it unstable. Another small difference is that Linux files are case-sensitive and Windows files are not.
Windows or Linux — What to Choose?
Your choice of server depends on the features & database application needed for the proper functioning of your hosting or website project. If you are working on your own external-facing site and are looking for a combination of flexibility and stability, Linux with cPanel may be the easier option for you. If you are working in a complex IT environment with existing databases and legacy applications running on Windows servers then Windows could be your best choice. Ultimately what’s important is that the Linux or Windows OS should be backed up by 24/7 web-hosting support in the event of server downtime or failure. Lunarpages offers 24/7/365 Dedicated/VPS support. Check us out.