One of the most important choices you will make when you select a web hosting plan is the decision about what hosting platform you choose. The two major choices you have are Linux-based web hosting, and Windows-based web hosting. This article will review the advantages and disadvantages of both of these platforms in the categories of Cost, Compatibility, and Availability. If you want to learn about the differences among the three major types of hosting — shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated server hosting, you may find this post helpfull.
Whether we are talking about Shared, VPS, or Dedicated Server web hosting, Linux based hosting is probably the most popular hosting platform on the Internet. One of the reasons for this trend is the fact that Linux web servers are run by the open-source (and rock solid) Apache web server. Thus, the cost of Linux-based web hosting is generally less than a comparable Windows-based web hosting. Recall that with Microsoft Windows Servers do need to comply with Microsoft’s licensing rules, so an added level of cost is therefore introduced when using a Windows Platform. These costs may be significant when it comes to Windows dedicated server hosting, as well as sql server hosting.
As a general rule, your choice of web hosting platform really depends on the applications that you need to run. Linux hosting is great because it gives you native support for the MySql database system and the PHP programming language. So if you are running a PHP/MySql application, then Linux is the clear choice. That’s not to say that you can’t run PHP/MySql on a Windows platform, but because MySql/PHP is not native to Windows, sticking with a Linux platform in this situation is a better choice.
If you need, however, to run a .NET application, or you are still using .ASP technology, then a Windows platform is a must. .NET is designed to run on Windows, and thus you must stick with a Windows Web Server to make it work. Further, if you are using MS SQL Server, then sticking with Windows hosting is imperative.
There are other considerations about what you “can and cannot” do with Linux and Windows hosting, but you really need to look at your application’s needs to make these determinations. Many eCommerce and Shopping Cart applications are specifically run for one platform or another. Wordpress and Joomla, two popular blogging and CMS platforms, are designed for Linux servers. So what you first need to do is determine what application you will use to meet your website’s needs and goals, and then you can see whether you need Linux or Windows to run it.
Linux and Windows based hosting solutions are both popular and easy to find as there are thousands of companies that provide these services. In my own experience, however, I find that there is a larger availability of Linux-based providers vs Windows-based providers. There is also therefore more support information available for Linux hosting as well as competition on price among hosting providers.
In the end your decision really depends on the needs of your site and application (heard that before?). But if you are a beginner to web hosting, and running a basic site with no specific application or programming needs, then Linux hosting is the best way to go.