Few people truly understand the inner workings of a web hosting server, even the otherwise tech-savvy. But understanding the basics of web servers can help you choose the best hosting plan for your needs. One of the easiest ways to understand a web server is to compare it to a normal PC. The primary differences are the speed and power of the processor, the software, and the typical lack of a dedicated monitor for a web server, but there are many similarities. Both PCs and web servers are comprised of similar hardware components: a processor, RAM, a hard drive, and a network interface card. Both require a power supply and a cooling fan. Both need a set of instructions that tell the hardware how to operate, and those instructions are called an operating system.
Like PCs, there are several web hosting server operating systems to choose from . Unlike PC operating systems, where the debate centers on Mac and Windows, the two main players in the web server space are Windows Server and Linux. There are devotees in both camps, and strong arguments for both options. Both have are time tested in web hosting environments. The reasons for choosing one over the other are primarily technical in nature, and we'll examine some of them below.
Since the functional differences between the two operating systems relate to specific technical considerations, only certain types of websites even warrant a discussion on which is superior. Websites that are small and simple like blogs or 4-5 page small business sites probably won't place any particular demands on their web server, so the OS won't really matter. But if your site uses certain programming languages (detailed below) or employs specific applications, the OS you choose can be very important.
Obviously Windows Server will run any Windows applications, so if those applications are part of your site building process, Windows is probably the best choice. For example, if you design your site using Microsoft FrontPage, it will run better on Windows Server. Linux plans can sometimes be cheaper than similar Windows plans, though, since Linux is free and open source and Windows Server costs several thousand dollars per server. Don't forget budget considerations when shopping for a plan. Here are some more benefits of Windows for web hosting:
Linux is extremely popular for web servers, probably more so than Windows, though there is no definitive way to know for sure. Much of the popularity stems from the open source model of development. Open source software tends to be highly flexible and quick to adapt to changing demands. Those are highly sought after qualities for any web software. Additionally Linux sports the following attributes:
As we've seen, the choice of web server OS is deeply related to the design and coding of your particular site. If any of the technical requirements listed above sound familiar, it's worth taking the time to pick the right one. If not, the OS probably won't have much of an impact on your experience as a webmaster, in which case you should let other considerations like budget dictate the plan you choose. Either way, be sure to check out our available plans. You can dial in the storage and bandwidth levels until you have a plan that fits the requirements of your website and your budget perfectly.