When choosing web hosting for your brand new website, you will probably have a choice between Windows and Linux. In the past, there were large differences between the two. In recent years, Linux has become more user friendly with many companies offering graphical control panels for their Linux systems, similar to the Windows systems. Many Windows desktop users choose the Windows hosting option simply because they are familiar with it.
How you access your account is an important feature to consider. Access is usually provided by a control panel or through a FTP session for both types of servers. The control panel is typically a graphical user interface (GUI). If you are offered a control panel, there will be minimal differences in accessing the server, regardless of the operating system.
FTP access can be through a graphical client or the command line for both Windows and Linux. If you are using a command line client, the commands will be slightly different between the two operating systems. If you are using a graphical FTP client, be sure to check that your client will connect to the server's operating system.
Both Windows and Linux web hosting packages typically have support for PHP, MySQL and other open source web development technologies. Linux does not support ASP, FrontPage, the .NET environment, Windows Streaming media or MSSQL. If your website depends on Microsoft's proprietary technology, you will need a Windows host. Otherwise, you can use either operating system.
Linux is open source and is free to download and use. Windows is proprietary, which means that the hosting company had to pay for the operating system. However, this does not necessarily mean that Windows web hosting is more expensive than Linux web hosting, unless you are building your own web server. The price for third-party web hosting is determined by more than just the operating system used. This means that both Windows and Linux web hosting have comparable pricing structures.
Linux has a reputation for having a longer up time than Windows. "Up time" is the amount of time the system remains in production without needing a reboot. Many of the tasks that Windows requires a reboot for can be done on Linux without rebooting the system. This being said, Windows servers can remain in production for months without any downtime and Linux system administrators often scheduled down time on a regular basis. Therefore, there is once again little difference between the two operating systems from the user's standpoint.
If you are concerned about down time due to viruses and malicious attacks, the Windows operating system remains the most vulnerable to attacks. Linux hosts are subject to malicious attacks, but not nearly as often as Windows hosts. Reputable Windows hosting companies are aware of the security risks and take extra steps to avoid any problems for their clients.
Choosing a Host
Unless you are looking to use a specific Windows proprietary technology, the choice between a Windows web host and a Linux web host is a personal one. Each operating system has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but overall there is not much difference between the two when it comes to web hosting from the user's perspective. The large differences are behind the scenes. You can feel confident choosing the operating system you are most comfortable using, or the cheapest option, if you are not afraid of trying new technology.
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