Windows vs. Linux Hosting Services

By Vince Barnes

What are your considerations concerning
the Operating System your potential hosting service uses?

If you happen to be running your own server system, you would not have to consider what operating system to use for hosting your websites. That decision would already have been made. Part of that decision making process may, however, have involved consideration of the features that would be available to you for your websites. Other considerations may have involved other system features as well as cost, ease and convenience. Those aspects which concern your websites are the same operating system considerations to be born in mind when selecting a hosting service for your sites. Here we take a look at some of those details to help you with that decision making process.

The vast majority of hosting services being offered today are based either on Windows or Linux. There are a few other Unix variants in use in hosting companies, but for the most part the features offered to the guest website are so similar that they can be thought of as the same. For the purposes of this discussion, "Unix" systems will be lumped together and a Linux model will be considered. There may also be hosting services based on another operating system altogether, but these are few and far between. For those systems, you would have to compare their feature sets to those discussed here.

Second to the operating system, the most important influence on the features that will be available to you will be the Web Server system in use. On Linux systems, the Web Server offered is almost always the Apache server. On Windows it's the Internet Information Server (now "Service"), IIS. Apache is also available for Windows systems, but is not very frequently used by hosting companies using the Windows platform. Again, there are other Web Servers in use but the great majority of hosting companies use one of these two.

Features In Common - HTML, JavaScript

No matter which platform you select for hosting your site, there are some things that are common to all. All web servers are (or certainly should be!) configured to support HTML files and JavaScript. It is also reasonable to expect that every system offering hosting services these days also has an outgoing mail server (SMTP Server) set up and available to you. The lack of this could be a problem for you.

FrontPage and the FrontPage Extensions

While their name suggests that are for enabling the use of FrontPage, the extension in fact provide a set of capabilities that is utilized by a wider range of software. FrontPage itself is a very useful web development tool. especially for someone with a less intimate knowledge of the actual codes used in website creation, but the server extensions also provide a number of utility functions that the website can take advantage of and they provide for a "post" method that allows a program (such as FrontPage or Visual Studio, among others) to "Open" the live site for updates in situ. These extensions, which can be a very important feature for you, can be installed on either a Windows or a Linux server.




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