Windows hosting is one of the world's most popular web hosting options. Software company Microsoft has developed server solutions for hosting based on the widely used Windows operating system. For example, Windows Server 2003 comes in a web version to support Windows web hosting for internet service providers. One of the advantages of Windows compared to other possible operating systems is the reputation of Microsoft and the support provided by the company to customers. Microsoft thoroughly tests its products before releasing them into the market and they provide one of the best technical support packages for their clients. Because they are a large company, they can generally operate research and development, and customer service departments more efficiently than smaller companies. An important competitor to Windows servers consists of servers that use the Linux operating system. Linux systems use the open source approach that allows developers to write programs in the Linux programming language freely so long as they follow certain guidelines. The underlying code for Windows, however, is not open source.
Windows servers tend to be expensive when compared to other options. Recently though, Microsoft has been successful in lowering prices especially after the economic recession caused the market to tighten up. Windows servers generally offer the same types of features that you will find on other server products. For example, you will be able to run other applications and program certain automated features. Windows servers have their own security suites, which is an important factor for Internet service providers. The server must be able to operate in a high threat environment in which hackers are continuously looking for new ways to break into server systems to extract private data and to cause other mischief. One problem with Windows servers is that many hackers tend to target Microsoft systems. The reason for this focus is that Microsoft is the world's largest software company and, thus, hackers like to go after the big targets. The fact that Microsoft does not use open source code may also motivate hackers to target the company's software applications. However, other server solutions, including Linux, are also vulnerable to security hacks.
What are the features specific to Windows servers?
One of the reasons that many Internet service providers choose the Windows server is that they want to use Microsoft applications. These propriety applications may run only on Windows servers or, at least, they will only run optimally on such servers.
Among the Windows-specific applications are:
- MS Access - A database application that is a requirement for many other Microsoft web-based applications.
- ASP - A framework platform that allows users to design webpages.
- FrontPage - A "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) application for creating web pages on the Windows desktop. These sites have specific extensions that require compatible server software.
- MSSQL - The Microsoft version of the popular relational database solution that is a requirement for many other types of web-based applications.
- .NET - A framework application for many web-based tasks including application development and security.
- Windows Streaming Media - A software solution that allows users to stream live video and audio over the Internet.
What types of Windows hosting is available?
Web hosting companies provide a wide variety of options that utilize Windows servers. The basic offering would consist of a web hosting package on a shared server. With this setup up, different users share the resources including hard drive space and RAM with other users on a single Windows server. The server provides compatibility with Windows specific applications like .NET, Frontpage and ASP.
A more expensive hosting option provides dedicated servers in which the provider assigns an entire server to a single customer. With this plan, the client has the full range of capabilities provided by the server. The middle ground between these two types of hosting options is VPS hosting. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting uses partitions of hardware servers that provide many of the same benefits of a conventional dedicated server for a more reasonable price.