Online Basics

The Pros and Cons of Unix® vs. Windows® Web Hosting

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Category: Online Basics , Finding A Web Hosting Package

When choosing a Web hosting package, you'll need to make a few configuration choices, but the bottom line is you want a Web server that will get your Web pages up fast, securely and reliably at all times of day and night. Although the big question may seem to be Unix® vs. Windows® Web hosting – the reality is that either platform should deliver responsive, secure and reliable Web pages. Choosing a hosting platform really comes down to the software applications you want to run on your Web server. Once you know what your requirements are – making the choice between Unix and Windows hosting is much easier.

Basic Code Is Code

A common misconception is that if your Web pages are being built using Microsoft® FrontPage then your Web server will need to be Windows hosting. This is not the case. No matter what operating system is being used to create your Web pages the basic code is the same, and you can still choose to host on either a Windows or Unix server with FrontPage extensions. What does make a difference, are the back-end processes you want and the compatibility of software application features with your Web server.

Custom Scripting

In most instances you can choose Unix or Windows Web hosting without any problems, however if your Web developer is using more advanced programming than basic HTML you need to make sure that the scripting language is compatible with your server. For example, Windows servers can support ASP or VBScript while Unix-based scripting languages such as CGI, Perl and PHP are supported on Unix servers.

Dynamic Content & Feature Applications

The technology you are using to run applications and pull dynamic content on your Web pages will help to determine which Web platform that is best for your website hosting. Although many applications can be supported by both Unix and Windows servers (media such as Flash, MP3, Shockwave, Real Audio/Video) there are still some exceptions that will determine your hosting platform – i.e., database applications such as MS Access require Windows hosting. In addition, many ecommerce applications are designed for specific server platforms.

Simple, Fast & Reliable Web Hosting

If all things are equal and you know you don't require any of the specific Windows-based features and applications then a Unix Web hosting solution can be a great place to start. There is very little difference between Unix Web hosting and Windows Web hosting in terms of performance and none that should be noticeable in your hosting plan. An additional benefit is that if your website experiences huge growth and you find yourself wanting to upgrade to a Windows hosting solution it is easier to switch from Unix to Windows but not the other way around. Your Web development requirements and necessary software applications will be the driving force behind your server selection – so defining those needs is the first step in choosing between Unix vs Windows hosting.