I am in a rather strange situation, as I need what seems like a hybrid of features. I am after a dedicated server (nothing high spec, as it is only for a few sites) - but there are a few things I need, which cause problems.
I dont know enough about linux to protect myself from exploits etc... so I would need a managed server - I also would need some sort of cpanel, as I dont know how to manually set accounts etc... up. Here is the problem part - I want to run a windows application on the server.
Would I be best getting a P3 1Ghz type server, running a version of windows (with apache/PHP/MySQL/POP3 running), and then using VNC so I can use this windows application? Are there cpanels that are easy enough for me to use to create accounts etc...?
Any help would be great, as I need advice on what is suitable
Windows requires just as much work as *nix to keep updated and secure. And there are not very many control panels made just for windows. You might be better off going with a managed host that provides you with a control panel, or even looking at a semi dedicated or VPS solution.
There is no need to run VNC on a Windows machine, even though you could if you really wanted to. The suggested method to manage a Windows 2000/2003 server is with Terminal Services/Remote Desktop. It is free, built in, and performs much better then VNC.
It looks like you are planning to use all the software which are available for the *nix and avoiding the main reason to go to Windows such as using IIS then I would suggest just getting a *nix machine for that. Sure Apache would run on Windows but you would find yourself doing way a lot of work getting it running to avoid something which is already there and ready for use.
You may want to hire a qualified *nix management service company or individual to do those tweaking and security fixes for you.
Windows is hardly worth running solely because of one application. If it is necessary, rent out some space on one of your friends' Windows machines to run your application, unless the application you speak of is relevant to what you are trying to do. I don't know.
Either way, if you are planning to use Windows, just use IIS, as it is already built in to Windows 2000, and Server 2003.