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Webhosting - Which Operating System?

There are basically two operating systems out there to choose from when you select a web hosting provider - Windows or UNIX. LINUX is a derivative of UNIX and is most commonly found in the hosting world under the RedHat label.

But which one is the best?

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both have their supporters and detractors too. I have to admit that I am squarely in the LINUX camp.

Why? Let's look at some of the features and benefits of both.
The Windows servers integrate Microsoft programs such as FrontPage, Access and MS SQL (not to be confused with MySQL). They also offer specific programs such as Active Server Pages (ASP), Visual Basic Scripts and Cold Fusion that make web hosting a breeze.

Most important, Windows servers can be easily managed and multiplexed due to .NET technology. They provide excellent levels of support, security and integration for the Microsoft family of products. But note - Microsoft is not Open Source, and almost all of the Microsoft Products have licensing requirements. There are very few 'free lunches' associated with Windows hosting. This does not make it a good option for small businesses.

The UNIX platform is mostly represented by LINUX in the shared hosting world. Their most important characteristic is that they can handle large volumes of traffic, are robust and capable of hosting multiple sites. Moreover, they are very flexible and webmasters can customize their services in real time from any computer. Also, unlike Windows, UNIX system is not limited to special remote administration program. Any computer connected to the Internet can access a typical UNIX system without special or costly software.

Many webmasters choose UNIX or LINUX servers because of the server uptime. It is not that Windows servers do not promise 99 per cent uptime. But to achieve it the web host has to be extremely capable and proficient in Microsoft systems. This is not a limitation in the case of UNIX servers.

In summary then, the biggest advantages of LINUX hosting as opposed to Windows hosting are the following

1. LINUX hosting is much more cost effective than Windows hosting for small to medium businesses getting into the Internet arena. This is equally valid for personal or hobby websites. You are going to have to pay licensing fees (or more expensive hosting to cover the lisence fees) if you opt for Windows Hosting.

2. There are tons more free scripts, tools and utilities available for PHP and MySQL than there are for ASP. Just as an example - on the Hotscripts site where there are thousands of free scripts available, there are over 15000 scripts available for PHP, which is the dominant software that runs on Linux hosts (where ASP runs on Windows hosts). The amount of scripts available in ASP and ASP.NET combined is just over 5000. Most of the Open Source (in other words, free to use) tools and utilities have been written in PHP and MySQL.

If you want to easily install and run shopping carts, forums or blogs - Linux hosts that offer PHP and MySQL is the answer.

About the Author: Christine Anderssen is the owner of Tailormade4You Web Design and Web Development Services and Internet Web Hosting for South Africa. Read the original article on

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