Linux vs Windows — Which is the Best OS for Hosting?
Windows has been dominating the operating systems market for home computers for decades. Steering ahead with over 77% adoption, Win-based desktops heavily overpower Mac OS (18.38%) and Linux systems (1.68%). We have to admit it — even if we don’t use it ourselves, most of our friends utilize Windows for their daily needs.
When it comes to web hosting, though, the situation is quite different. The providers have entirely different needs than the commercial user, and Windows’ fancy user interface won’t be enough in this case. Hosts need a stable environment that gives you full control and comes at an affordable price.
That’s why Linux and its distributions are the most popular OS choices for hosting companies, powering almost twice as many websites as its closest competitor — Windows. W3Techs stats show that Unix-like systems power 64.9% of the top 1 million sites, while Win servers are at 35.2%.
But that doesn’t paint the whole picture when it comes to the best OS for web hosting.
We have to dig deeper.
What is Linux hosting?
This outlines any type of hosting service that utilizes a Linux server. Due to its open-source nature and operational flexibility, the system is widely used by providers in every niche — shared hosting, VPS solutions, dedicated servers. Linux systems rely on a variety of control panels for easy management, the most popular being cPanel.
You can set up a server in many different ways, but when it comes to web hosting needs, the LAMP stack is by far the most employed. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, a configuration which easily satisfies the needs of most websites. Still, some projects remain unsuited for such an environment.
What is Windows hosting?
A number of hosts give clients the option to utilize a Win-based server. As you can guess, not all applications can run on a Unix-like environment — .net frameworks are a great example of that. MSSQL and MS Access databases are also best suited for a Windows hosting service.But perhaps the biggest decisive factor for hosts is the price.
Windows offers proprietary products, and they all add up to the final bill. Unlike the open-source nature of Linux, you can’t just get a developed product and use it for free — Microsoft will also want its cut. This makes the prices for end clients relatively higher compared to Linux hosting users. Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s put Linux and Windows hosting in a
Linux Hosting vs Windows Hosting — Key Differences
From a client’s point of view, choosing between Linux and Windows often breaks down to which is the best OS for WordPress hosting, Joomla hosting, or the specific software they’re using. Anything PHP-based goes well with Unix instances and .net projects best pair up with a Win-based service. Server administrators have different needs, though. They know exactly what to look for when building the perfectly-optimized machine. Let’s check some of the key factors:
Choice of OS
There are 600+ different Linux distributions out there, and more than 500 are still in active development. You can only imagine how much versatility and customization freedom you can get on an open-source platform, and that is detrimental for web hosts. Millions of websites rely on operating systems like CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Debian to power the servers they stand on.
Windows gives you…well, Windows.
While the environment appears more user-friendly because of its GUI (graphical user interface), Linux distributions are all about in-depth functionalities, and their command prompt is more than enough for a skilled administrator to do their magic. All in all, Linux-based servers are considered far more reliable and customizable than their Windows counterparts.
As great as they are, Linux hosting services can’t cover the full spectrum of web applications and software. That’s why, before you jump into a contract with any provider, it’s best first to outline your needs and see which operating system will best cover them.
The average client will be fully-suited in a Linux environment. Whether they are building an online shop, a blog, or a portfolio page, the LAMP stack is often more than enough for a smooth performance. Even experienced developers can find great use of Linux, especially if they know a thing or two about configuring Apache or Nginx web servers.
Windows solutions are mainly utilized by large corporations and enterprises that need to run a more proprietary solution. Any Microsoft software like Sharepoint or Exchange would also require a Win-based machine.
Your website security depends on a number of factors, but it all starts with the right server. Linux is inherently more secure than Windows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t compensate for that with a proper setup and extra protection measures. That’s the thing — every server machine can become impenetrable if your hosting support knows what it’s doing. Enterprises and corporate clients should take extra care when reviewing the Support Service Level Agreements.
Don’t forget that you also play a significant role in your website security, especially on self-managed VPS and dedicated servers.
Hosting clients often say that you’re only as good as your host’s support, and that goes for any type of service you might choose — shared, VPS, cloud, dedicated, or reseller. More often than not, choosing between a Linux or a Windows package wouldn’t mean much difference for the level of assistance you can expect. We’ve seen good or bad hosts on both ends of the spectrum, and the OS didn’t have to do anything with their skills.
One thing to consider, though. As Linux is much more widely used, server administrators are rightfully more experienced with its ins and outs. And, as the open-source system is practically limitless, they can do much more in terms of optimizations and upgrades.
Price-wise, there can only be one winner. Most Linux distributions come completely free of charge, while you definitely have to break the piggy bank if you decide to utilize a Windows server. It’s also a matter of longevity.
Linux systems are very stable and rarely change dramatically. This means that you won’t have to regularly apply upgrades every time a new feature or security patch comes out. Short-term or in the long run — Linux will always be the more affordable choice.
Scala Linux Hosting Deals
Realizing the power and stability of the open-source OS, Scala Hosting offers robust Linux hosting deals, optimized for fast website performance and uninterrupted uptime. The three packages include enough server resources and support to easily house startups and growing businesses. But to harness Linux to its full extent, you better consider a VPS solution, at least.
Scala Hosting offers both unmanaged servers and managed VPS hosting at very affordable rates. The latter comes equipped with one of the best Linux OS for web hosting — CentOS 8, while there is no restriction on the operating system you can install on a self-managed machine.
Scala Hosting is all about industry innovations and happily offers a set of unique proprietary tools:
- SPanel — easy hosting management and server administration
- SShield — advanced account and website security
- SWordPress Manager — optimized WordPress protection
Sometimes the smallest features can make the biggest difference.
Time to wrap this up and answer the big question — which is the Best OS for Hosting — Linux or Windows?
Linux definitely has more competitive advantages, betting on optimized stability and limitless freedom of customizations. There are countless distributions of the open-source system, each carrying benefits for specific online projects. And best of all — it’s completely free.
Still, Windows remains the preferred choice among larger corporations, where software licensing and data privacy are a big thing. Whether you choose a Linux or Win-based server often boils down to the specific requirements of your software.
Q: Which is the best OS for server hosting?
A: When you’re hosting your own server, you are mainly looking for easy controls, first-class performance, and, of course, low monthly rates. Linux checks all those boxes and proves superior for most server administrators. Unless you are running a Microsoft-specific software, you should be absolutely fine with an open-source OS.
Q: What is the difference between Linux hosting and Windows hosting?
А: Linux machines are ideal for running scripts that rely on PHP and MySQL for best operation. Site building apps like WordPress, Magento, ZenCart, Joomla, and Drupal are all examples of software products that rely on Linux to run smoothly.
Windows hosting encompasses its own set of apps that can only work on a Win-based platform. ASP.net, MSSQL, and Microsoft Exchange are some of the popular services that wouldn’t be functional in a Linux environment.
Q: Can cPanel run on Windows?
A: The most popular control panel choice for hosting providers, cPanel, cannot be installed on a Windows operating system. That’s just another reason why hosts lean toward Linux for their server offerings.