Web Hosting: Linux trumps Windows

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By Keith Curreri on August 19, 2010

There are two main types of web server technologies, Linux and Windows. I would like to start out by stating that this post is probably a little biased. I’m sure that there are a few people who love Windows servers, but I don’t know any of those people. Linux is a great web hosting environment for any website.

Don’t let the name Linux scare you. The operating system that you are using on your computer is mostly irrelevant. You don’t need to know how to use Linux in order to have a Linux web server. You don’t even have to use a command line if you don’t want to (however the option is there).

Benefits to Linux Hosting

For some time, when it comes to web hosting, Linux has been widely considered the best operating system for web servers. Many agree that it is the most reliable, efficient and stable platform for the demanding environment of web and mail servers.

Ease of use – It is very easy to host on a Linux web server. The actual process of uploading and hosting is practically the same for both Windows and Linux web servers. You can use almost all types of file extensions or scripts when hosting on a Linux server. Some of the more common extensions that are supported by Linux are .html, .htm, .pl, .cgi, .php, .shtml, .xml, and others. Essentially this means that you can host websites that use different types of server side scripting such as .cgi, .pl, .php, and .asp (with a plug in).

More control over your site – Only Linux will allow you to access your site via telnet or SSH. It’s possible to get telnet access on Windows, but very few hosting administrators offer it. Linux will also allow you to use .htaccess, another tool that Windows servers don’t allow.

Easy to move between hosts – A website designed to be hosted on a Linux based web server can be moved to another Linux or Windows based server easily. Moving a site hosted on a Windows server to a Linux server can sometimes be problematic.

Scalability – A website typically grows over time. It can start with a few pages of HTML and grow to suit the user’s needs. A web site designed for compatibility with a Linux server meets the scalability requirements without having to make any site wide changes.

Stability –A website hosted on a Linux server will have a high up-time; the Linux operating system is very stable and robust.

It can run Windows’ technologies – With the right plugins and configuration, you can run Windows’ technologies like .asp scripting and Frontpage extensions.

More widely used – Linux based web servers are more widely used because of the reasons mentioned above. With more people using this type of server, there is more support and help if you ever run into a problem (and the problem will most likely be easier to fix!).

Downside of Linux

To be fair, Linux hosting does have a few minor downsides:

A plugin is required to use .asp and Frontpage – Just install the plugin or contact your hosting provider to do it for you.

Integrating multiple Windows’ technologies – If your website depends on a lot of different Windows’ technologies integrated into the same system, it may be easier to use a Windows server. Linux, however, can run these technologies, and run them more reliably as well.

So Should I get Linux Hosting?

Definitely yes! Linux hosting is more reliable, easier to use, and it gives you more control over your site. I would highly discourage using Windows hosting. Remember, you do not need to know Linux/Unix or be using it as your computer’s operating system to use it as your web server.

For a side-by-side comparison of both server technologies, check out this article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Windows_and_Linux.

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2 Comments on "Web Hosting: Linux trumps Windows"

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Mitch

Actually, since Frontpage isn’t even made anymore, anyone using it is just biding time until the program is totally obsolete. What I learned while working with clients is that Windows servers have all these requirements and restrictions that just get in the way. It’s so confusing to clients because they automatically think because it says Windows that it’s the way to go, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Keith

Mitch,

That is what I was hoping people would take away from this post. When the two choices are Windows and Linux, someone that does not know much about web hosting would most likely choose Windows since many people are more familiar with Windows.

I really hate the limitations with Windows hosting, and when possible, I will switch hosting to Linux if a client comes to me with a Windows server.

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