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When Should You Opt For Windows Hosting?

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If you are just getting started with the world of web hosting, you might already have come across enough technical jargon. Such heavy terms and concepts can seem daunting for a new user. Which type of hosting plan do I need? How much space and bandwidth will I require? And so on.

One such question that often comes up is: which platform or operating system should you be using? Should you opt for a Linux hosting package or go with a Windows hosting solution?

This article will explain the differences between the two and also help you narrow down on which one you ought to be using.

Linux Hosting

We will start our discussion with Linux hosting. Basically, Linux hosting refers to hosting environments that use Linux or one of its derivatives as the operating system on the server.

Naturally, this has nothing to do with the operating system on your computer. You might be running a Windows PC, or a Mac, but you can still host your website on a Linux hosting package.

Linux, in general, is an open source kernel. As such, there is no shortage of Linux-based operating systems and environments — both free and premium. Ever wondered why Android is so popular and almost every other smartphone maker offers Android devices? This is because Android too is open source and can be used by any provider as long as they respect the license terms. Linux, too, is no different.

Most of today’s web development scripts tend to run on a Linux environment. Got a WordPress or Drupal site? PHP scripts? JavaScript? Everything can run well on Linux.

Windows Hosting

Windows has long been the flagship operating system from Microsoft. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, it used to be the industry standard and pretty much every home, office and school computer was powered by nothing but Windows. Even today, the majority of laptops and desktops run on Windows. But you should bear in mind, obviously, that Windows Server edition is entirely different from the version of Windows that we use on our home computers.

However, in the world of web hosting, Windows has generally always been the minnow. The majority of market share is held by Linux-based platforms. Windows hosting, in essence, is not as popular.

With that said, it does not imply Windows hosting is not worth the trouble. But it is mostly used for “niche” scripts and websites. If you are using something such as MS SQL for databases, or relying on scripts such as ASP or .NET, Windows hosting is what you need.

Since Windows hosting has its own set of scripts and niche, it is not as easy to find as Linux hosting. Most of the time. “Web hosting” itself refers to Linux hosting — there are not as many Windows hosts out there as there are Linux ones.

Furthermore, Windows hosting can also be more expensive as compared to Linux hosting simply because Windows, or any part of its kernel, is not free or open source. Even the premium Linux distros tend to cost slightly less than Windows Server editions.

So Which One Should You Use?

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the basics of both Linux and Windows hosting, lets understand the key take-away points here:

  1. Windows hosting is generally costlier than Linux hosting.
  2. Linux hosting is more popular and used widely across the hosting world. Most web development technologies tend to run equally well on both Windows and Linux hosting.
  3. Windows hosting is needed mostly for niche scripts and certain technologies, such as ASP or .NET

So, on the basis of the above points, which one do you really need?

Simply put, if you are confused about whether to go for Windows hosting or Linux hosting, you need Linux hosting and nothing else. People who opt for Windows hosting generally know why they need it and what they need it for (again, a custom script that will not work on Linux, for instance). For the rest of the world, Linux hosting is the de facto standard.

Should you still wish to opt for Windows hosting, you should bear in mind that reliable shared hosting providers for Windows hosting are a rare breed, although they do exist. Often, users simply opt for a VPS and install Windows Server on it as opposed to Linux. This gives them more freedom and also ensures better value for money (as you will not be paying for those features of Windows which you do not need). Here are a few web hosts with Windows hosting options: RDO ServersA2 Hosting, LiquidWeb, and PeoplesHost.

Lastly,  trying to get the best of both worlds at the same time is not possible here. While it is true that cPanel, WordPress, etc. can run equally well on both the platforms, Windows hosting is just not common enough to be viable for these software. Most WordPress developers are used to working on a Linux environment — finding good SQL drop-ins for WordPress or other CMSs and other related stuff will be too much of a hassle when using Windows hosting. Similarly, most Windows hosts use Plesk and migrating from Plesk to cPanel (or vice versa) is not as easy as it might sound (though not entirely impossible either).

Conclusion

So, keeping everything in mind, let’s sum it up.

You should use Windows hosting if:

  • You need to run software that is based on ASP, .NET, Visual Basic, or other similar scripts.
  • You need to use MS SQL for database operations.
  • Your website’s applications and code cannot run on a Linux platform.
  • The extra cost and lack of abundance of providers does not trouble you.

You should use Linux hosting if:

  • You just need to host a WordPress blog, Drupal or Joomla site, etc.
  • You need to use MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. for database operations.
  • You need industry-standard acceptability that even the smallest of web hosts can provide.
  • You do not know whether you need Windows hosting or Linux hosting — if you are confused, opt for Linux hosting.

So that brings us to the end of this topic. If you have used Windows hosting in the past, what did you use it for and which web hosting provider had you chosen? Share your experience in the comments below!

Sufyan

Sufyan is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, Linux, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. He is a published author, coffee lover and the guy behind CodeCarbon.com. Learn more about his works on this page.

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