Windows Versus Linux Web Hosting
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Windows and Linux are the two most common operating systems used in hosting packages. Usually they are part of LAMP or WAMP packages. The L or W stands for Linux or Windows, the operating system, while the A is for the Apache web server, the M is for the MySQL database, and the P is for the PHP, PERL, or Python programming language.
These packages may seem similar, and for some users it may not matter which operating system their web host uses, but there are a few things to consider when looking at web hosts who offer Linux or Windows operating systems.
Windows OS web hosting
Windows operating system is owned and operated by Microsoft Corporation. Many people are familiar with Windows because it is commonly used on home and office computers. Just because you have Windows on your home or office computer, however, does not mean that you have to pick a web host who also uses the Windows operating system.
Some of the features offered or supported by Windows hosting include:
- FTP file access
- FrontPage web page creation support
- For forms, ASP (Active Server Pages), ColdFusion, or sometimes CGI with Perl
- Databases can include Access and MSSQL as well as MySQL
- Sharepoint compatibility
- Compatibility with other Windows-based Microsoft programs like .NET and VisualBasic, as well as most open source software programs
The biggest advantage of Windows vs Linux is that it will probably seem familiar if you use Windows on your computer already, and that it is compatible with other Microsoft programs, including FrontPage, which many people use to create their web pages.
Windows-based hosting does have a few disadvantages. Because it is not an open source operating system it may be more expensive than Linux-based hosting. It is also considered slower than Linux services and to have more security problems, though all operating systems have some security issues.
Linux Web Hosting
Linux is an open source operating system available under the GNU public license. This means that it may be used and modified for free. Its community of users helps to keep it updated and fix security problems. Linux is the most common type of operating system.
Features offered or supported by Linux hosting include:
- File access through FTP, Telnet, and SSH. FTP transfers the files to the server, while Telnet and SSH let you manipulate your files on the server from your computer. SSH is secure, but Telnet is not.
- For forms, CGI with Perl or PHP are most common, though ColdFusion is also used
- The most common database is MySQL
Linux hosting has several appealing advantages. It is free to web hosts, so Linux packages are often cheaper. It is considered to be more stable, with better up time and an ability to handle large loads with more speed. It does have some security problems, but probably fewer than Windows. Also, many common programs and applications used on web sites were developed for the UNIX/Linux system, like MySQL, CGI, and PERL.
The disadvantages to Linux, however, can be serious depending on your hosting needs. Linux-based packages may not support FrontPage extensions, which will be a problem if you created your web site using FrontPage. Other Microsoft Windows programs, like Access database, also may not be supported. In addition, the Linux system may seem very unfamiliar, and you may have to learn how to do things like chmoding, or setting permissions for files. This can make a Linux-based webhosting program more frustrating.
Choosing between Windows and Linux
When you are choosing a web host you will need to shop around for the deal that best meets your needs. This includes having a reasonable price and supporting programs you need or want to use. If you have already created your web site using FrontPage it may be easier to use a Windows-based web host, though you might be able to find a Linux host that supports FrontPage extensions. If you anticipate your web site may get a lot of traffic, Linux is often considered faster and more stable.
If you prioritize your needs and wants and shop around you should be able to find a web hosting package that meets your needs.
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