When you first begin to look for a Web host to meet your needs, you will quickly realize that hosting space is available on servers running multiple operating systems. The basic choices come down to Windows or Linux/Unix, a decision that you may have already made about your personal computer. Unlike personal computers, Linux servers are actually the default when it comes to hosting. Your visitors also won't know the difference between your host's OS, and if you don't require special scripting support, you won't have to notice either. Furthermore, the operating system you use on your computer has nothing to do with the operating system that you use for your website. You can use Linux for your website and Windows on your PC or vice versa.
Linux hosting is known to be fast and reliable, which is perhaps why so many hosts offer it. Linux servers allow SSH and telnet for securely transferring files to your domains and website, if security is an issue. On the other hand, your host may have chosen Windows because it's easier to use than Linux hosting. However, as a hosting client, you will not interact with the operating system in the same way that you do with the OS on your personal computer. The major benefits of Windows hosting for users like yourself are custom scripts. If you use Visual Basic, ASP, FrontPage, or .NET to power your website or application, then Windows hosting is the way for you. Windows hosting can use many of the same scripts and features of Linux hosting are available if your files are on a Windows server. As Windows server OS has improved, more hosts are offering this to consumers like yourself for competitive pricing. Windows hosting is available at many levels, including shared, VPS and dedicated server hosting.
Many hosts offer shared Linux or Windows virtualized private servers, which creates virtual images of servers on the same machine. This gives you the freedom to expand your website, which shared hosting doesn't always offer. A Linux or Windows VPS plan also has a lower cost than a dedicated server, which can cost ten times as much! When you sign up for a Linux or Windows virtual private server with server management, you aren't responsible for the software and maintenance of your VPS, which is great if you simply need more resources but aren't familiar with server management. If you do require specialty software that may not have been compatible with shared hosting, a virtualized server offers more options.
Both Windows and Linux VPS solutions are popular, so you can quickly troubleshoot problems by contacting your host. The manufacturers of these operating systems also provide extensive manuals and help pages online and, if you're part of any virtual private server or hosting communities, other members are often available to provide answers to questions you may have. If you're ready to make the transition from shared hosting to a virtual Windows or Linux VPS, there's no better time. The transition doesn't have to be painful or even time-consuming, and you may notice that your website performs better almost immediately, because it's not throttled by the other users on a shared hosting server.