Every day we hear about Windows and its attempts to stay relevant on the market and keep its users, while Linux, the alternative, free, open source operating system is rapidly gaining popularity among people. Operating systems are competing on many levels, and one of the most important of them is how capable they are as servers. Linux is famous for the quality it offers in this area, but Windows also has a lot to offer. In this article, we will try to compare the two popular solutions and list their advantages and disadvantages.
Being a Unix derivative, Linux is famous for its reliability and stability, which makes it an ideal solution for corporate environment. Hosting industry has been using Linux for a long time to satisfy all its web server and email hosting needs, as well as for DNS services and databases. Since it is open source, Linux in most cases can be obtained free of charge, which means that the only cost which you need to take into consideration is the cost of maintenance. However, if you are considering using Linux as your hosting platform, you need to think about what kind of software you will need to run on your server. Linux offers support for the most popular database solutions such as MySQL and Postgres. Hundreds of useful applications are available for you on the internet (again free of charge) as well as the most popular scripting languages such as PHP, Perl or Python. However, a problem can arise if you need to use a Windows specific application, so make sure this is not the case before you consider using a Linux server. One more great thing about Linux servers is that they support migration to Windows servers in case you need to use the aforementioned Windows specific software. Microsoft’s operating system, on the other hand, does not support this feature.
Windows Server has been around for comparatively lesser amount of time (around 10 years) and its stability is still questionable although it improved in the past couple of years. The biggest plus of Windows is its extremely user-friendly development platform which makes it really easy to create great software for Windows platform. The biggest drawback of Windows in comparison to Linux is its proprietary nature which makes it very difficult to deal with when it comes to possible hosting plan changes (which include server OS changes). Furthermore, the applications and infrastructures (such as .NET) which are developed for Windows often don’t support any other systems.
When all that was mentioned above is taken into consideration, the conclusion seems obvious – unless you are for some reason obliged to use a Windows-only application, it is wiser to consider Linux servers first for your web hosting needs. Their cost effectiveness and the amount of software which is at your disposal free of charge, together with its unparalleled stability which stems from its Unix roots makes Linux the only reasonable choice.