Linux or Windows® Hosting?

If you’re new to websites and hosting, or maybe you’re just not very IT minded, then you probably won’t know about Operating Systems.  An Operating System is the glue between a computer and the programmes it runs.  Windows ® is the Operating System for Windows® computers.  Mac OS is the Operating System for Apple computers.  As far as hosting websites is concerned, there’s a choice of two, Linux and Windows®.  Which you choose depends on what you want to do.  Both will work for your website and will work on any PC, laptop or smartphone that connects to it, so that isn’t the question.  Oh, and neither is ‘better’ than the other – they’re just different!


Linux or Windows®… both can work for you!

Don’t let the operating system you run on your own computer influence your choice for web hosting.  You have so little contact with the web hosting operating system itself that from that point of view it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is what you want to do with your website. The operating system dictates the range of website software you can use.  For example, if you need to use PHP, Perl or MySQL, then you’ll need a Linux operating system; if you’re going to use applications originally written for Windows® or that are Windows-specific, then a Windows® server is going to be more sensible.

So, you need to:

  1. Decide what functionality you want from your website
  2. Discuss that with your website developer/designer
  3. Take their advice as to which website software is most suitable for you
  4. Find out whether that software runs on Windows® or Linux
  5. Order hosting accordingly!

Whatever the conclusion, check out all the features we offer.  You’ll see different ways  to bring your website to life.  It’s really important to get this decision right first.  Swapping later is tricky, and can be slow and expensive!

Linux hosting
Linux is generally thought to be the best operating system for web servers.   Some webserver software is written specifically to run on Linux.  It’s really reliable,  stable and efficient.  It’s well proven in the most demanding environments for both web servers and for email servers .

If you’re planning a ‘brochure’ website, ie. one that simply displays pictures and information and does little else, Linux is ideal.  If you want to use your website for e-commerce, Linux is good too.  These are known as  ‘brochure-ware’ sites and they often allow user interaction through enquiry forms or online sales.

If you’re thinking of blogs, content management systems or discussion boards, then they’re probably more off-the-shelf open source applications for Linux hosting than for Windows®.  In general, software used for Windows® hosting is more likely to be licensed and chargeable. (But that’s not a reason for not using it if it suits your needs better than Linux!).

Windows® hosting

Many developers like using Windows® development software because it’s fast and easy to use.  The main development tools are .NET Framework and SharePoint.  They utilise drag-and-drop extensively.  So, if you need to use Windows® applications when you’re designing your website, a Windows hosting platform makes it easier. Also, Windows®-specific applications such as ASP®, work only on a Windows® platform.

Windows is also a good choice if searching is going to be important on your website.  Microsoft SQL server databases are powerful.  That power combined with reduced development time and more integrated functionality can be a real advantage.

Finally, if you need to, you can run PHP on a Windows® hosting server but you’ll need IIS installed to allow it to run.