Many hosting services offer a choice between Linux and Windows servers and which you choose for your business will depend largely on personal preference. As the Huffington Post pointed out recently, it’s more often choice of web host than operating system that makes the difference when it comes to making a splash in the online world.
Linux and Windows are essentially two different operating systems and choice here used to make a big difference in what you could do with your website. The good news is that this difference has gradually faded away and you’ll get great usability with both.
Linux, however, is still the most popular platform for setting up a website on a server and most experts tend to think that it has all the tools that web designers need to get their job done. Windows supports many of these nowadays but unless you have needs that are specific to Windows, it could pay to stay with the pack.
The daddy of web hosting, Linux has lost a bit of ground in recent times because of the emergence of Windows hosting. It does still have a couple of big advantages over its rival though, the primary one being cost. Web hosting companies don’t have to pay for Linux (it’s open source) so they can pass that cost saving onto their customers. It supports more scripting languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails and Perl in default mode. The two areas where it is not quite so good is if you want to use ASP and .NET support – a number of hosts just don’t include it.
First of all, just because your computer operates Windows doesn’t mean you automatically have to go for it when choosing a host. The two are not connected and Linux operates on all computers. Windows does however allow you to use ASP and .NET scripting languages. The major problem you will encounter is finding a host who provides the Windows system that suits all your needs. This is area going to develop further over the next few years and you can expect to see Windows come more in line with Linux and steal some of its thunder.
Performance is always at the top of the mind when you come to choosing a host and the type of platform you want. There shouldn’t be much difference between the two. In the past, the stability of Windows was called into question but this, again, has largely been addressed. Neither is there much difference in hosting static pages or the level of security that you get with each platform and they are both pretty easy to use for someone with a modicum of web development skill.
One defining factor at the moment would be whether you need .ASP or .NET, in which case you are better off choosing Windows as an operating system. Many people will choose Linux simply because it has been the industry leader for so long.
With more and more hosting services offering both operating systems on their sites, perhaps the main issue is going to be the cost.
Linux is still cheaper which is probably something that the guys at Windows are going to have to sort out if they are going to be serious competitors.