A serious project based on using vast databases, dozens of dynamic pages requires a reliable, properly selected server. Incorrect choice of Windows or Linux hosting may lead to data processing inefficiency, inability to provide proper maintenance of user needs. This is obviously unacceptable for e-commerce websites, for example, where a working speed is highly important.
There are two types of servers used by modern providers: servers based on different versions of Windows operating system and Unix-based systems (Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, etc.). Each OS has its own peculiarities, and we will consider them below.
A web server is a software complex that provides ability to run an online project. It is always installed on a provider’s server. There are two types usually used for websites — Internet Information Server (IIS) and Apache. IIS is usually run on Windows platform, while Apache almost always uses Linux. According to the statistics, the majority of websites in the internet work under Apache, as it is faster and more stable. And here the choice between Windows or Linux server is obvious – the second one is the winner. But don’t make hasty conclusins – the general situation is not clear for now.
Let’s assume that we have already chosen a server and moved a project on some hosting. We need access to perform some operations for modifying the website. FTP – file transfer protocol – works excellently both on Windows and Linux. With its help you can place or delete files and make other operations with the file array of the project. Such protocols as SSH and Telnet (terminal Network) are also available for both operating systems. Using them a specialist can get access to a project via command line. Windows additionally provides access by a remote desktop protocol – RDP that is less secure than SSH that encrypts all data. However, RDP is easier to use, and this is an advantage. Here Linux or Windows hosting is almost the same.
Here we deal with multitask systems. However Linux handles simultaneous commands running better. Have you faced the situation when loading a page of some social network takes too long, especially in the “rush hour”? It is highly probable that the reason of this problem is multiple repeated referencing to the resource from the user side. Here a server has to process a huge number of diversified requests, and simultaneously run processes are responsible for this. Sometimes Windows fine tuning helps to increase the productiveness seriously, but it doesn’t help always.
Comparing the cost of hosting on different OS, Windows is more expensive, as the license for the vast majority of software is paid. Linux is fully free. However, it doesn’t provide programming support, and all problems you face have to be discussed on some specialized forums. Of course, a Linux-hosting has its own price, but it is usually lower than the price of its Windows-based analogue. The difference may be up to 25% that helps to save money when choosing Windows or Linux hosting plans.
A website in the internet must be secured, especially if it deals with financial operations online. Linux server security is higher than the security of its Windows copy. However, there is also an opposite opinion on this aspect. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of developers work on Linux perfecting, and even the smallest pitfalls become visible in this process. The access to Windows code is very limited, as it has private source. This means lower chances to reveal the security holes. Finally the website security is defined by the choice of security software and by the professionalism of specialists that adjust it.
We have considered all nonessential differences in the upper chapters. It seemed that the website will work regardless of your OS choice. But this is wrong, as each file of the dynamic site has its own code processed by the interpreter of the specific programming language. When there is no program that defines the language, the entire code or some part of it will not work.
ASP Active Server Pages technology allows performing specific scenarios both on a web server and on a client's machine. This technology is developed specifically for Windows systems. Linux server is not able to work with ASP without additional software. While there are some attempts to use ASP on Linux, usually it is not used on this type of servers. Other standards exclusively used on Windows systems include Microsoft Share Point, MSSQL, etc. That is why when choosing Windows or Linux hosting it is important to answer the question – does the project use such Microsoft technologies? And if the answer is positive, you need a Windows server.
If ASP and other software with similar requirements are compatible only with Windows, the popular and powerful PHP works correctly on both platforms. As opposite to MSSQL, a universal DBMS solutions based on SQL are MySQL, PostgreSQL or mSQL. Other popular languages successfully work on both server types are Java, Perl, Python and others. You can be sure that the code containing the syntax of these languages will be clear for both Linux and Windows.
It is important to understand one principle: the website working on Linux will also work on Windows. But the opposite affirmation is wrong! Windows, as we considered above, has a lot of disadvantages, starting with the work speed and finishing with price and security level. That is why choosing a hosting based on this OS is reasonable only in one case – if the project involves Microsoft technologies oriented at working only under Windows. In all other cases Linux wins!