Not many people have ever set foot inside a data center. These buildings, which are all over the globe, often look like a simple warehouse or office building. Inside however, they are like nothing you've ever seen. The first thing you notice is the whirring of the cooling fans that exhaust the heat produced by all the servers. Then you see row upon row of server racks. Each one is 6 to 8 feet high and houses 30 or more individual servers. Overhead, you'll notice thick bundles of cable, all neatly organized and routed, traveling along tracks that connect the servers to each other, and the entire center to the outside world. They are impressive, state of the art facilities, and they exist because there is an insatiable demand for web hosting services.
Every website in existence lives on one of these servers, and there are over 7 billion websites currently online. The servers themselves, although they don't look much like typical PCs or laptops, are made of similar hardware components. Web servers are generally faster and more powerful, but like PCs they require software and an operating system to function. There are several options for server OS, as well as arrangements of server resources that are used to deliver hosting services. The preferred choice of millions of webmasters and server administrators is virtual Windows server hosting. We'll explore some of the reasons why this is such a popular choice below.
The concept of virtual servers has revolutionized web hosting services. Before the advent of virtual hosting, often referred to as virtual private server (VPS) or virtual dedicated server (VDS), there were only two classes of web hosting plans. On the cheap side of the spectrum were shared hosting plans. These plans took one server and let hundreds of webmasters rent a little storage space on that one server. The cost of building, installing and maintaining that single physical server is shared among the many users, so the price for the plans was very low. The downside was that all the shared users were stuck with one operating system and software stack. They were also limited in the configuration changes they could make to the server, since any changes would be felt be all the webmasters on that server. The alternative was a dedicated server, which afforded total control and privacy, but with these plans all the cost of the server was shouldered by one user, making them very expensive.
Virtual hosting plans present an attractive alternative, wherein on server is split up or "virtualized" into many virtual private servers. These VPS's behave as if they are totally independent web servers. Thus a VPS plan delivers the same cost savings of a shared plan, with much of the privacy, administrative control, and flexibility of a dedicated server. Like Goldilocks trying her third bowl of porridge, these plans are "just right" for the majority of webmasters. When one of these virtual servers is running the Windows Server operating system, you have a reliable, user friendly hosting solution. Some webmasters prefer other operating systems like Linux, and a little research online will yield volumes of opinion on which is superior, but Windows has a long track record and is loved by millions.
The reasons to choose virtual server hosting are pretty clear: savings, control, security and flexibility. Simply put, VPS plans are the best of both worlds. The reasons to choose Windows over other operating systems are more personal and technical. If you are getting geared up to build your first website and aren't in to all the tech stuff, one OS or another won't really change your experience. Either way, check out our plans and find the one that's right for you.