- May 23, 2017
- by Brad Litwin
‘Linux versus Windows’ is a heated debate in many circles, including web hosting. After all, your choice of Operating System (OS) can impact the way your server behaves and how you can interact with it.
In some cases, you may not notice the difference between using either OS on your server. However, if you’re looking to set up a Virtual Private Server (VPS)or use a dedicated one, then you probably care about every last detail, including which platform to use.
In this article, we’ll discuss why you should care about which OS your server is using, and how to make the right decision between Linux and Windows hosting options. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get moving!
Why Your Choice of Server Operating System Is Important
Every computer needs an OS, and servers aren’t the exception. Your choice can impact the way that you interact with your system, and in this case, you have two main contenders to choose from: Linux and Windows.
The thing is, it’s entirely possile to run a website without knowing what OS your server is running. After all, chances are you probably spend all your time interacting with a Content Management System (CMS) or a hosting application such as cPanel or Plesk. However, there are some advantages to choosing what OS you’re going to use on your server, such as:
- Some applications are only available for specific OSs, as is the case with cPanel (which only runs on Linux). Therefore, if you want to run specific software on your server, you’ll want to make sure you pick a compatible OS.
- Linux servers tend to provide more customization options, which comes in handy if you’re a developer or a system administrator.
- Every OS behaves differently, and picking yours enables you to customize your own experience.
Now, it’s important to note that with shared hosting you are limited to whatever your hosting provider offers you – in our case, CentOS (Linux) or Windows – whereas with a VPS or Dedicated server, you get full control. That’s why you need to know the pros and cons for each of the two main options.
Linux and Windows Hosting Compared
When it comes to choosing an OS for a server, a lot of people will tell you to go with Linux without a second thought. While we can’t deny the fact that Linux is by far the most popular choice these days, it’s not the only feasible one.
In this section, we’ll cover the pros and cons for both Windows and Linux, as well as offer recommendations on who would benefit from using each.
As you probably know, Linux is an open-source OS that is widely used by developers. It also happens to be the top choice for hosting platforms.
It’s not a coincidence that Linux has made its way to the top of the hosting world, but it can’t compete with Windows or macOS when it comes to home PCs. Here’s why Linux has the edge when it comes to servers:
- More stability. Linux is renowned for its stability as an OS. Since it’s an open-source platform, it can be adapted to almost any environment, and it’s under constant development.
- Increased security. This particular OS is usually considered to be safer than Windows, thanks to its open-source nature.
- Lower cost. Linux is free, whereas you’ll need to pay for a license if you want to set up Windows on one of your servers. That means that hosting providers can pass on savings to you with cheaper plans.
As a matter of fact, one of the only downsides of choosing Linux as your server’s OS is its learning curve. Anyone can learn how to use the system, but to get the most out of it, you’ll have to get comfortable with its command line.
With that in mind, if you have experience as a developer or a system administrator, then Linux is probably the best option for you. Even if you don’t, you can still opt for it if you don’t mind learning how to use the system.
In years past, the idea of comparing Windows to Linux from a hosting perspective would’ve been ludicrous. The latter was simply a much more mature system as far as customization and security, but Windows has managed to somewhat close that gap. In fact, it even has a few advantages over its open-source alternative, including:
- It’s easier to set up. If you’ve used both platforms, then you’re probably nodding right now. Windows is much easier to configure and set up than Linux.
- It’s easier to use the .NET framework. Developing web applications using the .NET framework is much easier in a Windows-based environment.
You might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned stability or security yet. While Windows isn’t inherently unreliable, it’s still not quite at the level of Linux when it comes to those aspects (yet).
With that in mind, there are three types of users who would benefit from using Windows as their server’s OS. First of all, if ease of use is the aspect you care most about, go for it. The same goes if you plan to use the .NET framework to develop your web applications – Windows is simply the most logical choice. Finally, if you don’t want to deal with a ton of customization options and would just like to use an OS that works out of the box, Windows is probably the right choice for you.
Knowing your way around the pros and cons of Linux and Windows when it comes to hosting is crucial if you’re thinking about configuring your own server, be it a virtual or a dedicated one. Your choice of OS will impact almost every aspect of how you interact with it, so it isn’t to be taken lightly.
In most cases, people will recommend Linux as the default option for your server. After all, it’s open-source, highly customizable, and (technically) more secure. However, gone are the days when Windows couldn’t compete at all in the realm of hosting. Nowadays, Windows servers may still not be as popular as their counterparts, but they have benefits of their own, such as their ease of use.
Image credit: Pixabay.