A lot of people get distracted by unnecessary factors when trying to decide between Linux hosting and Windows hosting. There are many supposed advantages and disadvantages for either web hosting solution that are irrelevant. These are more likely to confuse, rather than assist, with any decision.
Before discussing the important aspects to consider and decide upon, when selecting either a Linux or Windows hosting solution, it will be helpful to highlight and hopefully dispense with 3 common misconceptions relating to both hosting options.
Linux Hosting vs. Windows Hosting: Myths and Truths
MYTH: Linux-based servers are more stable than Windows-based servers.
TRUTH: It is easier for independent developers to detect and fix errors on Linux, meaning problems should be resolved more rapidly. In theory, Linux has good user-based technical support as anyone can monitor for issues and provide fixes for problematic areas. However, Windows systems have the might of Microsoft behind them.
The Myth Exposed
The reason behind the common belief that Linux servers have greater stability over their Windows-based rivals is this: Linux is open-source so developers and users are able to view its source code. This means it is easier to spot any bugs or potential problems and report them straight away.
Windows on the other hand is a proprietary system and its code is not available to external sources. This means that any problems may take longer to report and it does not benefit from having critical independent and impartial oversight. Linux users with programming talents can also provide their own fixes for other users to use. This provides an endless wealth of free technical support. Windows, in comparison, has to rely on Microsoft’s own programmers to provide solutions to technical problems with its software.
This does not mean that Windows servers suffer from lack of attention. After all, they have the world’s largest software company offering technical support.
MYTH: Windows servers are plagued by viruses, trojans, adware, and spyware problems.
TRUTH: This may have been true in the past, but Microsoft has tightened its belt. Both systems get their fair share of malware problems, but Linux’s open programming environment means that it is easier to monitor for attacks and quickly resolve security flaws. Windows is a more familiar OS to many and therefore some malware attacks are specifically designed for the Windows platform.
The Myth Exposed
Windows does provide great security. Microsoft is constantly updating their software with important security updates and upgrades. But it is an uphill struggle. Linux, on the other hand, has the technical support of its users and any obvious security flaws in new software can be spotted, fixed, and resolved with more ferocity due to its open-source approach.There have been massive efforts to improve the security of Windows systems and while security issues may not be resolved as swiftly as Linux, they do get fixed.
MYTH: Linux hosting is cheaper than Windows hosting
TRUTH: There is little or no difference now in either hosting solution.
The Myth Exposed
Yes, there used to be a difference and Linux hosting was definitely cheaper. But the price of Windows hosting packages has dropped dramatically over the past year or two. It is easy to find a decent Windows host offering a basic shared hosting package for under $10 a month and this is comparative to rival Linux hosting deals.
Windows is proprietary software so they do charge a higher rate for using their products and this may be passed onto hosting service users. But competition has become even fiercer in recent years and increased competition between an ever-growing numbers of hosting providers has seen a severe drop in overall charges. There is some difference in the prices of dedicated and virtual private server packages, with Windows solution tending to be slightly more expensive, but the low-midsize hosting solutions are comparative in price.
Linux vs. Windows Hosting: What You Should Really Consider
Now that some of the common distraction and misconception shave been expunged, it is time to concentrate on the key factors to consider when deciding on a Linux or Windows hosting solution.
Windows tends to use IIS server software and Linux normally sticks with Apache. Although Apache can be used on a Windows server this is uncommon. IIS is proprietary and is licensed by Microsoft so can only be installed on a Windows server.
If you intend to use .NET framework or ASPX scripts, you should opt for an IIS run server, so Windows hosting is the correct selection. Yes, it is possible to use .NET and ASPX on a Linux server but many of the software and programs developed for these purposes were designed specifically for a Windows platform so have greater compatibility and integration.
If you require greater flexibility and the ability to use applications made for Apache, then Linux hosting may be the preferred solution. Most Linux hosting will come with the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python) system as standard and this provides a flexible, developer-friendly website management solution that many people prefer.
Content Management Systems
If you are looking to utilize certain CMS applications you may be limited to a particular hosting option. For example, if you plan to build your website using DotNetNuke content management system you'll have to use Windows server with IIS, MS SQL and .NET framework. You may also take a look at web hosts that specialize in offering CMS specific pacakges, such as DotNetNuke web hosting plans.
Experience and Reputation
Whichever hosting platform you favour, you will have many alternative providers to select from. It is crucial that you take time to fully research the reputation and experience of any hosting provider, be it Windows or Linux host.
There is a lot of focus placed on being the lowest-priced provider, but any decision you make should never be made based on price. Look for a provider that has been around a while and has offered a good enough service to have sustained their status and reputation.
Linux Hosting vs. Windows Hosting: The Final Decision
The important thing is not to become unnecessarily biased by misconstrued fallacies. Both systems are now reasonably comparable in terms of price, stability, and security. The decisions you make should be based on specific factors relevant to your hosting solution requirements, not on speculative areas of concern.
Both Linux hosting with its LAMP stack and Windows with its IIS solution provide very capable software systems for hosting, uploading, and managing websites. The final choice may revolve around whether you specifically need .NET framework and ASPX support, in which case Windows hosting would be the preferable solution. Or whether you require a more flexible, open-sourced solution, in this instance it may be best to opt for Linux hosting.
Whichever decision you make, be sure your selection is based on realistic factors and not biased by irrelevant historical opinions.
This guest post is written by Roko Nastic of WebmasterFormat.com.