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UNIX vs. Windows Web Hosting

By Richard Lowe


Unix is the oldest and one of the most widely used operating systems for the web hosting platform. It is the basis of the internet and most web servers originally ran on a version of Unix. Unix is know as a multitasking operating system which means that it can run many applications at the same time without them affecting each other. This is very important when you consider that hundreds of websites, running thousands of CGI scripts, all receiving thousands of hits could be running on one web server. Unix is usually more reliable than Windows hosting and more companies are on UNIX than windows simply because it is faster and open source (meaning it is completely free unlike Windows which has hefty license fees).

Why Use It?:

It's reliable Ability to host many websites on the same machine. Almost all CGI scripts run better on Unix. Programming flexibility. Much more administrative control.

With Unix, webmasters can really tweak their websites (assuming they know what they are doing) to run at optimal levels. Developers can run CGI scripts and create applications specific to their needs.


Is case sensitive. It is not an easy operating system to learn. Must use telnet or Ftp to make changes.

Also, there is no graphical user interface which makes it easy to get used to or learn. It can take system administrators several years to understand the basics of the UNIX operating system

Windows NT or Windows 2000 or Windows 2003

NT is a relative newcomer to the web hosting game but it is fast gaining a large share of the business. NT was built to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft's web authoring tool, FrontPage. As such, it is often the perfect solution for newcomers who do not want to learn HTML or CGI programming or deal with the day to day hassles of administering a web server.

Nowadays, most Windows web hosting providers utilize Windows 2003 because if its improved security, reliability and stability.

Why Use It?:

Can use Microsoft Front Page to publish your website as opposed to using Ftp or telnet. Can use Cold Fusion. Somewhat easier to administer (especially for the average webmaster). Is not case sensitive.

If you do not plan on learning the in's and out's of the web and administering your site, NT is probably your tool of choice.


Provides poorer security than Unix. Because of the security issues, the hosting provider will usually institute tighter security measures. Cannot run all CGI scripts although this is changing.

Your needs as the webmaster and your visitors needs will determine the type of web host and the platform you need. Windows web hosting is usually more expensive than UNIX web hosting but offers a much better ease of use. A common misconception is that users who are using Windows operating systems at home are required to purchase the Windows version of web hosting. You can use either operating systems

Take a search of the many web hosting companies that are on the market. You will find that there are hundreds and hundreds that can offer a person or business both Windows and Linux based servers. These are the two main types that are offered when it comes to web site hosting. As anyone that has used it will tell you, the Windows based solution can cost a little more due to the cost that are imposed by Microsoft. They offer a more reliable set of features and easier configuration however. This is why you will need and want to take a serious look at these two types and decide for yourself, which is best.

There are some certain circumstances that will require sites to be using Windows based servers. These situations are often frowned upon in the fact that these people are not happy about being confined to using one certain type of system. .NET technologies are one of these technologies, which will mandate that Windows will have to be used on a web delivery vehicle (aka server).

While it is common to find Windows on a great number of the computers that are used in a person's home or business, you will be shocked to know that a large portion of the hosting companies implement the use of Linux based server systems. This means that if you are choosing to use a Linux system, then you will be with the popular choice for hosting.

If you are using Access for a database, then you will have to use a windows option. This is because this program only runs on a Windows platform and cannot be used on a Linux system. Look at your needs versus desires. Chances are that you will see that there is a need for a Windows hosting solution, clearly, if not, then go with Linux.

Microsoft SharePoint services can only be used on a Windows platform; this will mean that you again will have to take into consideration the need to find a host that offers Windows. If you plan on running a SharePoint site or running an outlook exchange server, then windows is a must have.

When taking the time to determine if you need a hosting plan that uses Windows or Linux, make sure that you take these few tips into consideration and look at all of the needs versus the desires that are listed on your checklist. The more that you know about this topic, then the better and easier that the decision will be for you to take into account. Investigate some hosting plans that offer these options. If you know what you need first and foremost, then you will have little to no trouble in making a wise decision.



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