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UNIX vs. Windows Hosting: An Introduction

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 1/8/2009

Are you still trying to decide between Windows and UNIX hosting options? We’ll take a look at a few of the things that should be considered before making this decision and discuss the advantages associated with choosing a Windows hosting option.

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    UNIX vs. Windows – Which is the better hosting platform?

    When trying to decide on a web hosting service, you’re generally going to be faced with two options – those that offer some form of UNIX or Linux hosting and those that offer Windows. It’s quite possible that the theoretical debate over which operating system is better overall will never be concluded, but that’s not really the important question anyway. The real thing that should be asked is which web hosting solution is better for you and your planned web site.

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    Does the web server operating system need to be the same as the one on your PC?

    Newcomers to the web hosting world are often under the misconception that the operating system used by their web server must be the same as the one used to connect to the server. That is, if the web site is being designed and written on a machine running some form of Windows, does the web server have to run Windows as well? No, this is most certainly not the case.

    While there are some specific instances when you will want to develop your site on a computer using the same type of operating system as the host server, generally it doesn’t matter. That is, a basic HTML site can be easily created on one operating system and transferred to a server using another. It’s the code itself that matters.

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    When should you choose a Windows hosting plan?

    We’ll put aside the issues of reliability and security for now since these are fairly broad topics that really can’t be analyzed with just a sentence or two. Instead, let’s take a look at the big reasons why people choose a Windows hosting service over a UNIX/Linux plan.

    • ASP and .Net – If you plan to incorporate Active Server Pages (ASP) or .Net into your web site, then you’re definitely in need of a Windows hosting plan. While there are some UNIX solutions that can handle ASP scripting, there are limits to the functionality and you could find yourself facing a lot of unnecessary headaches down the line if you choose this option.

    • Planned Web Site Growth – If you’re just starting out and you’re not quite sure which direction your web site will eventually follow, Windows hosting is something you should very seriously consider. Features and languages that are supported by a UNIX server can easily be implemented on a Windows server, but Windows tools are not always supported by UNIX. So, by choosing a Windows hosting plan, you have a wider range of options for future site development.

    • Applications – Do you plan to have a storefront incorporated into your web site? Or will your site need to support a high-end database? Make sure you research what applications you plan to use for your site. Although the number of e-commerce and database solutions available for UNIX continues to grow, most commercial applications are written for Windows operating systems. Typically, these Windows-based applications are easier to learn, use, and implement than their UNIX counterparts.

    The bottom line is that there are several reasons why both new and seasoned developers may choose to go with a Windows hosting plan. However, how secure and reliable is Windows hosting? And, is there really that much of a difference in price over UNIX plans? We’ll take a more in depth look at these questions and more in future articles of this series.

UNIX vs. Windows Hosting: Things to Know Before Choosing a Web Hosting Plan

This series of articles takes a look at the advantages offered by Windows hosting plans in addition to discussing the relative differences between UNIX/Linux and Windows web hosting solutions.
  1. UNIX vs. Windows Hosting: An Introduction
  2. Security Issues in UNIX and Windows Hosting
  3. Cost and Reliability of UNIX and Windows Hosting
  4. Selecting a Hosting Service: Even More Choices
  5. Comparing Ease of Use for UNIX and Windows Hosting Environments