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Unix Vs Windows Hosting-Which One Is The Best

by Luis Carvalho

This simple question is every day made by many web design newbie’s looking for the perfect hosting plan for them. It is the first thing you should decide if you’re planning to buy a web hosting plan. UNIX and Windows operating systems are the two main types of operating system platforms on which you may host your website. Each has its own set of unique features, advantages and disadvantages. The right question isn’t “Which one is the best?” but “Which one is the right choice for your needs?”. In this article I will show you the advantages of each one and a short comparison between them. Before that, there’s something you must know, the operating system that you use on your desktop has nothing to do whit the one used by your web host to serve your webpage Many people think that if they use on their desktop a Windows operating system they have to use a windows hosting plan, that’s absolutely not true!! The same rule applies if you had developed your website with MS FrontPage, usually Unix systems have FrontPage Extensions installed.

Now let’s make a UNIX hosting overview:

Nowadays most of the web designers are choosing UNIX servers to host their websites. Everyday Windows is losing costumers to UNIX hosting and the web hosts are exploring this fact offering daily new promotions and UNIX plans. And why are the web designers choosing UNIX plans? First a short and very important advantage: the price, the web host companies usually use free editions of UNIX systems like Linux Red Hat, Linux Fedora Core or even FreeBSD operating system, this fact lower the final price for the costumer because the web hosts don’t have to pay for the server operating system. All the UNIX operating systems are under the GNU license, this means that anyone can access the source code and modify it, very important to optimize the server and resolve any problem or security issue, UNIX systems are the most flexible and stable. It’s easier to upgrade and expand. By default these servers are installed in text mode, the system uses fewer resources and dedicates all its power to the WebPages hosted. Supports Perl, CGI-BIN, PHP3, Shells, MySQL, PostgresSQL, MS FrontPage extensions and much much more.

Windows hosting overview:
Everyone knows Windows server operating systems family! It’s true that it is losing points to UNIX hosting, is true that is more expensive than a UNIX hosting plan but Windows still Windows!! And it supports some tools that UNIX cannot run. Only Windows plans support Scripting languages for dynamic content such as Active Server Pages (ASP) and ASP.NET, Cold Fusion, Active Perl and Visual C++. Only Windows hosting will run Microsoft specific applications such as MS SQL databases, MS Access Databases and IIS. (This is very important and if you’re planning to use any of those languages or applications in you website, you have to buy a Windows hosting plan!).

Now that you know the top features for each operating system, let’s compare them:

In low-stress conditions Windows and UNIX servers have very similar performances but under high load UNIX is very superior to Windows.

UNIX handles high server loads than Windows; UNIX systems rarely require a reboot, Windows constantly need them. UNIX can run stable much time than a Windows server and UNIX up-time is bigger.

If you design and program a website under a UNIX server you can easily host it in a windows server, but the reverse is not always possible, Avoiding windows languages (ASP, ASP.NET, etc) and databases (Access and MS SQL) is the better choice.

Any server hosting a website require a operating system and licenses, Windows 2003 and applications like SQL Server costs a lot of money, on the other hand, UNIX, usually Linux, is free to download, use and operate. This make the difference between the price, UNIX hosting will always be cheaper than a windows one.

Unix hosting is more stable, has better performances, is more compatible and cheaper than a windows hosting plan. I always recommend UNIX hosting. You will only need Windows hosting if you’re going to develop in ASP, .NET or VB.

Wednesday, Jan 17th, 2007