Which is Better for Web Hosting: Linux or Windows server?

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When choosing a hosting plan, a vital consideration is a hosting server for your web application. When deploying your application, you’re looking for a reliable hosting platform. Initially, you will face difficulty choosing between Windows hosting and Linux hosting. The two options come with various features, which may offer contradicting options suitable for your web application.

But, which is the more viable option for you and why?

Based on cost, how easy it is to set up, performance, and security, Linux offers better results than its counterpart, Windows. Linux is easy to set up, stable to run, and provides enhanced security and features for your deployed applications.

What is web hosting

Before we dive into the comparison between Windows and Linux web hosting, we need to understand what web hosting is.

In simple terms, web hosting is the placement of a website’s files and directory on a remote computer available online 24/7. The remote computer serves your website’s files and folders to your users worldwide. The remote computer has its physical resources, such as storage, CPU, memory, e.t.c, set up in data centers. Examples of prominent cloud computing providers are Google, AWS, and Azure.

To create files and folders on any computer, whether on a personal computer or a cloud computer, you need an operating system.

An operating system manages and provides hardware resources such as storage to your web application. Therefore, you need either a Windows or Linux operating system to be able to manage files and folders on your web host.

But, how do I choose between the two?

It depends on many factors. In summary, you should consider the cost, performance, familiarity with an operating system, and frequency of possible downtimes, among many others.

Let’s look at each operating system, its pros and cons, and rule out the best operating system for your next cloud computing solution.

Windows Web-hosting

Businesses may opt to host the website on Windows operating system because of the multitude of features accompanying it. Hosting on Windows may be the preferable choice for a particular set of features and services available. These unique features provide unique capabilities that may be unavailable or difficult to implement when using other options such as the Linux operating system.

When to go for Windows Hosting?

Your choice will mostly depend on your needs and background. Generally, You should choose Windows hosting when:

  • You are familiar with the ASP.NET stack and want to deploy your application using the technologies associated with the stack.
  • You have a corporate background with experience with internal corporate servers using Windows hosting.
  • Your server will incorporate specific Windows applications such as Microsoft Access or Microsoft Microsoft SQL server.
  • You are more accustomed to the Windows services, protocols, and applications used when deploying an application on a Windows server.

Advantages of using Windows server for application deployment

  • Familiarity – Most users are more familiar with and accustomed to using Windows than other operating systems. The OS is straightforward. It deploys intuitive graphical interfaces that are easy to understand and use.
  • Easy to use – Windows comes with an easy-to-use Plesk control panel that you can use to make changes and manage server files.

Disadvantages of using Windows server for application deployment

  • Maybe less secure. Windows platforms have numerous features and bloatware applications that may introduce bugs or vulnerabilities. However, the integrity of your system will mostly depend on your setup and system administration.
  • Expensive to set up due to the additional cost of purchasing licensing fees for particular applications or services.
  • Overall, Windows provides fewer features related to web application hosting and maintenance.
  • Likely to face stability issues
  • More resources such as storage and memory are required to keep windows and its application running optimally.
  • Requires frequent reboots to perform at optimal levels. Frequent reboots reduce server uptime due to downtime when the server reboots.
  • Hard to configure some technologies or programming languages such as PHP, PERL, or CGI applications.
  • You are opted to choose a closed source and paid applications, services, and database management system, such as MSSQL.

Linux Hosting

Linux is more popular than Windows as it provides intuitive management tools that make it easy to create and host web applications.

Linux offers cPanel for intuitive management of server resources. The cPanel streamlines the management of resources by offering effective controls that allow users to host their websites easily.

When to go for Linux Hosting

According to a survey by W3Techs, most of the world’s websites (approximately 80%) run on Unix-like operating systems. Linux is a Unix-like open-source operating system.

About 37% of all the websites run on Linux.

According to the market, it is clear that people trust Linux for web deployment.

Moreover, Linux operating system supports most programming languages associated with the Worldwide Web (e.g., JavaScript, Python, PHP, Perl, etc.). Generally, you will want to go with Linux hosting when:

  • You are not constrained by industry preference or generally are inexperienced with the ASP.NET stack. If you are familiar with the current technology stacks such as Django, MERN, MEAN, e.t.c, Linux offers superior support.
  • You have budgetary constraints, or it would be uneconomical to procure Windows services or applications that require licensing.
  • You want flexibility and freedom to choose between different technologies, stacks, or methods that you can use to implement and deploy your web application.
  • You work with or want to bolster your knowledge of server management and popular technologies such as PHP, Python, MySQL, Apache, NGINX, e.t.c.

Pros of using a Linux server to deploy your web application

  • Security. Although security will depend on your configuration and administration, Linux is considered more secure than Windows, which is more vulnerable.
  • Support for contemporary technologies associated with the web, e.g., PHP, NodeJs, and Python.
  • More economical as it is open-source
  • Linux offers more customization flexibility, even for users with limited experience in advanced stacks.
  • Linux kernel is very stable and lightweight.
  • Linux kernel does not require frequent reboots. Fewer reboots improve server uptime and reliability.
  • Intuitive CPanel that streamlines the hosting experience.
  • Linux Supports MySQL, which provides more additional database management features than Microsoft SQL Server.
  • When using a database for your web application, MySQL is more robust than Microsoft Access.
  • MySQL, which is compatible with Linux, is free and open-source

Cons of using a Linux server to deploy your web application

  • Due to the steep learning curve, most users are not familiar with Linux distros.
  • Linux requires more expertise to use. You are more likely to face technical support from some web hosting providers.
  • Requires knowledge of Apache, working with a command line, and manually editing configuration files.

Should I consider Linux or Windows Web-hosting?

It all depends on your familiarity, technologies used, preferences, cost, and support.

Here are their differences:

Linux web hostingWindows web hosting
Has a lightweight kernel that requires fewer resources and memory requirementsHas a large kernel that requires more storage and memory
Open-source operating system with a huge communityRequires licensing for some services and applications
Installs essential applications required to run web applicationsInstalls bloatware applications that may not be required for web applications
Not prone to malware attacks. Deploys restricted file access and permission grantingProne to malware attacks such as viruses and worms
Does not necessarily require frequent rebootsRequires frequent reboots
Tested to be stable. Increased uptime and less downtimeProven to be unstable with unreliable uptime and frequent downtime
Support popular web development technologies and programming languagesRequire additional services to serve some web technologies.
Other times, it may not entirely support some technologies.

Are you accustomed to the ASP.NET stack, or your business utilizes Microsoft tools such as Exchange or SharePoint?

Well, then Windows hosting is the way to go.

On top of its familiarity, if you have a corporate background that depends on Windows services such as database management systems, you will generally want to stick with their preference.

On the other hand, if you have limited experience with the Windows server, it would be best to consider Linux hosting for your next project. Linux is easy to set up and provides an intuitive cPanel tool for server management.

Linux supports the majority of the web development tools and languages, guaranteeing compatibility with most endpoints. Also, more support means the majority of the courses, books, and tutorials use Linux for illustrations or documentation.

Linux will be the preferred option for people who want to keep it simple and quick while also avoiding extra charges associated with licensing fees needed for deployment.

Also, by default, Linux will offer more security if configured and administered appropriately. Linux has a lightweight kernel that deploys enhanced user privileges and access rights that reduce automatic file access and execution.

Windows operating systems are more prone to malware attacks that result from file access and bloatware applications.

Linux is a go-to choice. It provides a large pool of web hosting features and customization to optimize your web application to handle more users without reliability, performance, and security issues.

However, if you are not familiar with Linux, you should consider learning basic Linux concepts such as file management. You can peep at this article to understand how to get started with Linux.

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Badi here, creator of ngangasn.com— A website dedicated to providing helpful information and how-to's of web development and hosting. Inspired by a fascination to write the most efficient code to make a computer laugh, & humans, Steve has a passion for organizing characters to create code and informative content.
What makes me happy?
Well, nothing like the feeling of finally figuring out that one pesky bug that's been driving me crazy.

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