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Windows 2003 Hosting vs. Other Hosts

Windows, UNIX or Linux Web Hosting Accounts. Which is the best choice?

Servers running open source operating systems like FreeBSD and Linux currently fill the low-end, entry-level web-hosting segment of the market. It has been an issue for Microsoft for some time now. However, with the introduction of the Windows 2003 Web Edition Server, Microsoft can offer lower cost hosting packages on the Microsoft operating system, making it more appealing to web hosts. Depending on the task to accomplish, Microsoft can offer customers the flexibility, security, speed and reliability that is needed and wanted by small and larger businesses.

In addition, Windows 2003 Server offers $600 dollar per server savings. This will cause the hosting industry to see more competitors in the low-end, entry-level hosting segment running servers on Windows 2003 Server. A segment now only claimed by a handful of Windows hosts. To further enhance the attractiveness, Microsoft has introduced a new licensing and pricing structure. This is causing a trend for non-Windows based hosting companies, such as RackShack.net, to start deploying services based on the Web Edition of the Windows 2003 Server. The reason for the switch by RackShack.net is that it is more cost effective than it was in the past to have dedicated servers.

Operating Systems

Servers run web sites combined with software, which is run on a computer program known as the operating system. Windows is one such type of operating system. Chances are some version of it (Windows 95, 98 XP etc.) is the operating system on your home computer. Web hosting servers also need an operating system and the following are essentially three different competing versions.

1.      Windows

2.      Linux

3.      Unix

Windows vs. Linux vs. Unix

Windows

Windows is an operating system that is offered by Microsoft Corporation. It has been around for awhile and as stated before, is probably on every home computer in the world. Microsoft also makes an operating system especially for servers. These operating systems allow true integration with Microsoft’s products and also allow web sites to run Active Server Pages (computer scripts for dynamic web site content). Microsoft's server also allows integration with one of the more powerful databases, the SQL database. The downside of Microsoft's server software is the cost. It costs several thousands of dollars for each server making it economically unfeasible.

Linux

Linux is actually a common name for a variety of operating systems. An offshoot of the Unix operating system, it was developed by individuals who came together to commonly write, the main part of Linux. After this main part was developed and refined, additional parts were added to the program to customize it based on end-user requirements. Compatible with the popular programming language such as PHP, it is also favored by some web hosters because of its strong security record and the stability of its operating system, which is a big selling point.

Linux is more “user friendly” than Unix, cheaper and more scalable. Unlike Windows, Linux and Unix are free operating systems that allow sharing, exchanging or distributing of their source code. It receives high marks for how handles web and Internet operations. Administration is made easier through its security software, hardware and directory software.

Unix

Unix-based operating systems are very similar in comparison to Linux versions. In fact there are probably more similarities than differences between the two. Where the Unix-based operating systems are refinements of Unix itself, Linux is basically a cousin to Unix. FreeBSD and OpenBSD are the main Unix-based operating systems. When it comes to measuring reliability, availability, and serviceability, Unix surpasses Linux.

In addition, Unix systems support far more RAS features and most software licenses are free. It is also easier to maintain Unix servers than Windows 2003 servers. The downside to a Unix based system is that it is technically complex to install. It has a reputation of being very secure but not very flexible, and offers no frills. It’s a tradeoff.

 So which is the best?

Basically it depends on what you need. If you want the tightest security you can get then Unix is probably for you. If you’re looking for compatibility with all of Microsoft's products, then Windows is the best for you. If compatibility with PHP is a requirement of yours, it’s worth taking a look at Linux.  Between Linux and Unix, the differences appear in the development methodology, deployment and usage. It’s not the surface differences that tell anything, it is the deeper differences that explain and justify why each performs the way it does.

Between Windows 2003 Server and Unix or Linux, there is no difference in terms of ease of use. Reliability closely matches so decisions on which to choose should not be solely based on reliability. There is also no difference in speed.

Remember that it’s not which operating system is the best, but rather which operating system is best for what you need to do.

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