Web Hosting Explained: Linux vs. Windows

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Historians argue that we are moving toward an age where every friend we make, all the goods we buy, and all the classes we take will be all done online. The recent pandemic has accelerated this transformation, with online schooling, work-from-home arrangements, and online shopping brought to the fore.

So, if you’re planning to launch an online marketplace, educational website, or a personal domain on the internet, now is the time.

To create a website, you’ll need three things: A computer with an operating system, a web hosting provider (Read Hostinger Review our recommended hosting company), and an idea that will sell. It’s up to you to create an original concept, but your operating system and web hosting provider can dictate the success of its execution.

If you are still looking for reliable hosting services then see our recommended hosting companies in Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia.

In this article, you’ll learn the difference between web hosting on a Linux and a Windows computer. They each have pros and cons that need to be considered, and it’s essential to become familiar with them before saying yes to a multiple-year contract.

Web Hosting on Windows

Microsoft Windows is the most dominant operating system in the world, with over 1 billion active users and over 400 million subscribing to Windows 10, its latest release. Microsoft prides itself on the accessibility of Windows, which, in the opinion of most software critics, is second only to the Mac in terms of user-friendliness. This philosophy translates into its web hosting capabilities that people with a preference for easy-to-learn programming languages and a disdain for cPanel thoroughly enjoy.

Broad Versatility with a Catch

You can host an unlimited amount of websites on Windows, and you can do it at every level:

  • Clustered
  • Reseller
  • Shared
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Cloud computing

Compared to macOS, Windows is a hundred times more versatile; but when compared to Linux, you might find it harder to find a web host that can give you all the features you want. Web hosting on Windows is also more expensive as most providers have to tweak their services to offer you customized options.

Applications You Can Use on Windows

Windows is in an awkward spot; it’s the most widely used software by coders for web development but not for web hosting. To rectify their market position, Microsoft has developed programs like the Microsoft SQL Server, which serves as a competitor to MySQL and Oracle, and MS Access, letting you manage and create databases.

If you’re planning to use a Windows server, here are some other applications you can use:

  • ASP.NET, a Microsoft-created open-source framework that’s compatible with macOS, Docker, and Linux
  • ASP Classic, one of the earliest server-side scripting languages
  • Visual Basic, where you can automate data processes to create reports, graphs, and forms
  • Remote Desktop, which allows you to assign a virtual machine or a physical computer that you and other end-users can use from anywhere in the world
  • C#, one of the most popular programming languages in the world
  • Microsoft Exchange, a calendar and mail server
  • Microsoft SharePoint, a platform where you and other co-website builders can collaborate on projects

Web Hosting on Linux

Compared to hosting websites on Windows, Linux is more customizable and versatile. It’s compatible with PHP and MySQL, which Microsoft competes with using its proprietary databases and programs. This compatibility means Linux has native support for Zen Cart, WordPress, and phpBB that Microsoft competes with by using ASP, MS Access, MSSQL, and .NET.

Web hosting on Linux is generally cheaper than Windows because it’s open-source software, meaning it’s refined and developed by a community of enthusiasts with low to zero financial incentive. Linux is the most widespread website hosting platform, so hosting services have broader, more expansive offerings for coders and website-builders who use it as their server software.

You can do virtually everything with a Linux server. You can install SSH, a security protocol you can use to log into one computer from another and transfer files with encryption. You can also use different Apache modules to run applications and scripts that Windows servers can’t run.

The Linux Difference

Linux offers more customization and security options, but it also has a steeper learning curve.

  • File naming on Linux is case sensitive, which means AboutPage.html will be a different file from aboutpage.html
  • Linux uses the more complex cPanel, and Web Host Manager as control panels, which offer more features compared to Plesk that Windows servers use
  • Although Linux users can choose from a buffet of graphical user interfaces, most of them have to familiar with using a command line before gaining access to them, whereas Windows users have a built-in GUI from startup
  • Linux has FTP and Confixx, which coders can use to configure and program email addresses and microblogs

Linux vs. Windows: Which One Should You Use?

If you’re concerned about website security, loading speeds, and reliability, the battle between Windows and Linux servers is a wash. However, when it comes to customizing how your server works, the range of developer tools at your disposal, and managing your domains, disk space, and databases, the edge goes to Linux.

The two operating systems cater to two different types of users. Windows is more beginner-friendly while offering a ton of features to keep you coming back, while Linux is for experienced programmers who want control over every aspect of their server operations. It all boils down to which applications you’re already familiar with: cPanel or Plesk, MySQL or MSSQL, and PHP or ASP.NET.

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