Web Hosting – Windows or Linux

While choosing Web Hosting for a website, one of the first questions that need to be answered is the choice of operating system of the server. While there are lots of operating systems, for web server there are 2 dominant operating systems – Windows and Linux. These two web hosting operating systems are most popular and widespread. Almost all web hosting companies gives option for these 2 operating systems.

Each of these platforms is good and has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Linux is an open source platform while Windows is not. Each has its share of fan base and an equally strong number of dissidents.

The choice between these two platforms needs to be taken by evaluating your needs and not your sentiments. Here are some points you need to consider before making a decision regarding Web Hosting platform.

1) On what platform is your web application developed on: This is one of the primary questions. If your web application/site is has been developed in .Net or other Microsoft technology then it will mean that you will need to have a windows web hosting. While some technologies can run on both operating systems, sometime the platform of the application will bound you to choose the same platform for web hosting. Many websites use database. If you are using MS SQL Server then also windows server is essential.

So this decision has to be made even before the application has been written, otherwise migration a site can be a big big headache!

2) Security: An e-commerce website needs to be absolutely secure. In fact any application which stores information and crucial personal or financial details needs to be well protected. Linux is perceived to be more secure than windows web hosting. Windows have many well known security vulnerabilities (though fixed promptly) which are exploited regularly by hackers and viruses. But it has been observed that a server is only as secure as how well the administrator is. A Windows server is secure in the hands of a proactive and knowledgeable administrator.

3) Cost: Linux servers are cheaper than windows server because is Linux is free. Even though Linux is cheaper it doesn’t mean that it is any less than a windows server. Windows on the other hand has to be paid for. This means additional costs. The price difference for an end user website owner though is not very significant. The slight difference in the cost doesn’t tilt the balance in Linux’s favor by a big margin.

4) Learning Curve: Linux operating system has a steep learning curve. For a person who works on a desktop operating system, learning Linux can be an absolute nightmare. But if you choose a Linux web hosting then you need not worry about it. This is because there will be web based applications that will allow you to interface with the server seamlessly. You will be able to do almost jobs like FTP, database administration etc. using these application.

As you may have observed, there are no clear winners in this eternal battle between two mighty foes. The only key differentiator is the platform of the application. Other than that your personal preference will drive your selection.

Regardless of which hosting platform you decide, what really matters is that you choose only a well known, reputable, and reliable web hosting company with least possible downtime, good bandwidth and prompt support.

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