You’ve decided it’s time to get your website, and have even found a host server you think you’ll be happy with. Brimming with excitement, you sign up for your own domain, and decide on which hosting package you’ll need.

As you look over your options, a bit of confusion hits: do you want your website hosted on a Linux system, or a Windows based server? What the…

Well, you’re likely running Windows on your own computer, so that must be the same thing – and you haven’t even a clue what a Linux computer is, so the last thing you want is to go out and buy a whole new computer just to run your website.

Besides, every website you’ve looked at has run fine on your home computer running Windows, so that’s the obvious choice, isn’t it? Then again, looking at prices, why is one version more than the other? Since it costs more, you must be getting a lot more features, right?

Well, slow down, take a breathe, and a step back from your computer. Before you click either button, Linux or Windows, let’s take a simple look at some of the differences between Linux and Windows servers. Afterwards your choice should be pretty easy for your personal needs.

CLEARING UP SOME MISCONCEPTIONS

Before you start trying to calculate how much a new computer would cost if you made it on a Linux system, stop! It doesn’t matter what kind of operating system you’re running on your home or business computer. Which operating system you run on your computer is irrelevant in making your decision. Even if you have Windows 98, XP, or Vista, you can still build and run your website just fine on Linux hosting. Your personal computer is irrelevant when choosing your web host format.

LINUX HOSTING

Linux is a freely-distributed open source system, which makes it much more cost-effective for hosts to provide, maintain, and operate. It also has a very strong standing for both speed and stability. It’s so accepted that the majority of websites are actually hosted on a Linux operating system.

SECURITY: Though both Linux and Windows can both face hacking attempts, because Linux is open sourced, patches to close security holes are implemented very quickly since so many people contribute to making it better daily.

COST: Again, since it’s an open source OS, there is no licensing charge for running Linux operating systems. It costs less for the host to provide the service.

WINDOWS HOSTING

Windows, like your personal computer, is a Microsoft owned commercial operating system. Its main advantage is that it can also run Microsoft software such as Access and MS SQL databases.

SECURITY: As a commercial operating system, it may take a little longer at fixing some security issues (often by releasing security packs) since they must usually be provided through Microsoft.

COST: Just as you must purchase Windows for your own computer (the OEM cost is already in the price of your computer if it came with Windows pre-installed), servers must pay Microsoft for additional licensing fees for using their operating system. That’s why hosts must usually charge more for Windows hosting.

SIMPLIFYING YOUR DECISION

While both types of hosting can maintain websites, the choice of which you choose may be quite simple depending on the type of site files you need:

If you have specific pages that need to run languages and databases such as PHP, Perl, PostGre, MySQL, PostgreSQL, then you’ll want to select a Linux Hosting Server.

If your site needs access to Active Server Pages (ASP), MS SQL databases, or Visual Basic Scripts, then a Windows Hosted Server is required.

Apart from that, it’s strictly a matter of personal taste, preference, and costs. Regular website pages and scripts run fine on the lower cost Linux option, and actually there are many more add-ons available that make use of the MySQL database.

If in doubt, remember that most websites are run from a Linux hosting package, so you really don’t need to spend more on a Windows platform unless you absolutely need some of their specific programming functions.

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