When selecting a web hosting plan to host your personal or business website or ecommerce platform, one of the first decisions you must make is whether to choose Linux-based or windows based Web hosting. The most basic difference between these two options is with Linux hosting, your web collateral is hosted on a server with a Linux operating system. Conversely with Windows hosting, your Web properties are hosted on a computer with the Windows Server operating system. Your next questions should be, “Why do I care? What are the differences between Linux and Windows hosting?”
The most salient difference that will directly impact you as a customer is the cost of the plan. A Windows hosting plan is generally more costly than a Linux hosting plan. If you just need a small web presence and your site is static, meaning you do not have a backend database to collect information, your needs will likely be met with Linux-based hosting. However, the more complex your web presence, the more you will spend for your hosting plan, regardless of operating system.
Linux and Windows run entirely different programs. Though many applications are comparable to one another, they are not interchangeable. For example, with Linux-based hosting, you can use the MySQL open source database free of charge. If you use Windows hosting with Microsoft Access or SQL Server, you will basically have the same functionality as with MySQL, but you will pay a premium for the Access or SQL Server license to run on your hosting server.
If you are constrained by programming languages, for example, if your entire website is coded in ASP, the choice of hosting platforms is basically made for you. According to GoDaddy, Windows based Web hosting supports Microsoft programming languages like ASP, ASP.Net and C#. Linux servers natively support open source languages like PHP, so you can run PHP-based applications like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many other free open source packages. Additionally, certain platform-wide Microsoft applications, such as SharePoint and Exchange, will only run in a Windows server environment. Keep in mind that Microsoft licensing fees are not included in the cost of your hosting plan.
Integration and Learning Curve
When you use Windows based Web hosting, your server software will probably look familiar to you from the start. The Plesk site management software fully integrates with your Windows desktop, enabling you to perform powerful tasks without leaving the comfort of the Windows environment.
Obviously, Windows users will likely be more familiar with Microsoft interfaces available with Windows based Web hosting, like the Plesk management tool. However, this should not deter you from trying Linux hosting if your site specifications allow. If you have not yet developed your site, you can select the programming language you intend to use and then go from there. The learning curve for site management tools like Linux-based CPanel is very short. CPanel is a graphical tool that provides everything you need to manage one or several domains. This tool is very easy to use and many would argue that it is even more intuitive than Windows-based Plesk.
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Now that you understand the main differences between Linux based and Windows based Web hosting, you can make an educated decision about which type of hosting plan best suits your needs.