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Selecting a Hosting Service: Even More Choices

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 12/7/2009

Once you’ve chosen between UNIX and Windows hosting services, there are still more decisions to be made. Do you have a preference for the version of operating system used? What are things to look for when selecting a particular provider and package?

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    Varieties of UNIX and Windows

    Throughout this series, we’ve been using the terms UNIX and Windows in our comparison of web hosting options as if there were really no variety within each of the two operating systems. In fact, this isn’t the case at all.

    Although the options in each of the two hosting categories are varied, they do share enough commonalities that they can be grouped together when exploring the pros and cons. However, when trying to decide on a particular web host, it’s important to find out exactly which version of the operating system is being offered.

    The UNIX hosting category is something of a catch-all that includes the different varieties of UNIX and all its derivatives, such as Linux and FreeBSD. Windows on the other hand, is a bit more narrow in its scope of choices with Windows 2003 Server and Windows 2008 Server dominating the current market.

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    Experience of Provider

    Since UNIX hosting services are typically cheaper to maintain and the associated upfront costs are much lower, many hosting companies began their business only offering this option. Then, as time passed, and the business became more profitable, Windows hosting services were added to the menu. A natural result of this is that a lot of hosting services have much more experience working with the UNIX platform.

    Now, just as there are differences in UNIX and Windows hosting services, different skills are needed to manage each environment. While the duties involved overlap in many areas, there are definitely some tasks that are distinct for each operating system.

    If you do choose to go with Windows hosting, take some time to do a little research and see how much experience the service provider has in this area. The hosting company may have been working with UNIX platforms for years and only recently added Windows to their list of options. This certainly doesn’t mean that they’re not qualified to offer Windows hosting as a product, but having some experience in the field can make quite a difference, especially when dealing with unplanned outages or malicious attacks.

    In short, a company may have a great deal of experience with web hosting in general, but it may be brand new to the Windows hosting side of things. If this information isn’t available on the provider’s web site, don’t be shy about sending an email and asking.

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    Compare Packages

    After making the decision between UNIX and Windows Hosting, many people start looking for the cheapest provider they can find, only paying attention to that one basic characteristic. Be careful not to fall into this trap. Unless you only care about creating the most basic of web sites, take some time to read the full package details to see what’s included. In the long run, buying a cheap hosting package may end up costing a lot more than you planned if you’re continually having to purchase add-ons or upgrades.

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    Community Forums

    Nowadays, a lot of web host providers also sponsor community forums where customers can share information, ask questions, and report problems. When shopping, take some time to see if the host you’re interested in has such an open forum and spend a few moments browsing the topics. If there are habitual problems with server downtime or poor customer service, they’re sure to be noted there.

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