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  1. #1

    What's the Difference Between Unix and Windows Web Hosting?

    So you're finally ready to publish your finished website and you're searching through the myriad of web hosting plans and providers. You may have noticed that most hosting companies use Linux or Unix operating systems on their web servers. Microsoft Windows is less commonly offered as a choice. So what's the difference?

    Most people are familiar with Microsoft Windows having used it at home, work, or at school. It is very easy to use for novices and it doesn't require command-line knowledge. In Windows Home and advanced Server editions, you can simply point and click your way to a different folder using your mouse. Unix and Linux are open-source - meaning that the operating system is free and the source code is well documented and easily distributed. There are no major differences between Unix and Linux. Unix is much older and cannot run on x86-based personal computers (like the one you're using now). In contrast, Linux can run on both high-powered servers and x86-based computers.

    Linux is available in many flavors, though most hosting companies use Red Hat Linux, or Mandrake Linux, which are proven workhorses able to handle hundreds of websites and millions of hits per day. FreeBSD and OpenBSD are versions of Unix which are also available. While ease-of-use is very important for a home or work computer, it is generally not a big issue when working with a web server. After all, you are doing most of your website design offline on your own computer. Unless you have very advanced programming or operating system-specific modules, you will not notice the difference between Windows and Unix servers.

    Both Linux/Unix and Windows can handle high traffic websites and add-ons such as chat rooms, email and website statistics with ease. The biggest differences are price and software compatibility. Because Windows must be purchased and licenses renewed continuously, Windows hosting plans are usually more expensive than Unix-based plans. Also Unix-based plans often come with free email, databases (MySQL), statistic, and community programs. While Windows plans come with Microsoft software (MS SQL, for example) that must be purchased by the hosting company.

    Both Linux and Windows platforms can run popular programming languages such as php, perl, or java. If your website uses active server pages, then it will be less risky hosting it on a Windows server. Well it still may function on a Unix server, there may be small glitches that are not immediately apparent. Similarly, if you are using with Microsoft SQL databases, these databases will be supported by most Windows plans. However, Linux or Unix plans often include MySQL which would require that your databases be converted to this format in order to function properly. If you are currently using any Microsoft programming (especially active server pages) or third-party applications (MS SQL 2000), you may want to play it safe and choose a Windows hosting plan.

    From the average web designer's standpoint, there isn't much difference between hosting on Linux/Unix or Windows web servers. However, before signing up for a hosting plan, ensure that all facets of your site's design, programming, databases and the like will work with that plan. If you are unsure, ask the company's sales or technical staff before you commit.
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  2. #2
    Well, I really like Debian among all the rest of Linux distributions, as it has the package manager, you type apt-get install package, and debian will download and install that package for you.
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  3. #3
    Can you run MySQL on a Windows server?
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by lightasair
    Can you run MySQL on a Windows server?
    Yes, MySQL is supported on Windows platform as well
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  5. #5
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    I somewhat disagree about the design aspect. If you want to design a site with complex backend logic, then base ASP.net 2.x has an advantage over base PHP.

    However, does a host provider need to pay a repeat fee for use MS Sql or Server 2003? If so, what are these fees?
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  6. #6
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    I would like to add one important point: UNIX/Linux hosting plans often come with SSH (command line) access, and this is standard on VPS and "higher" plans. Command line access can be a big advantage if you (a webmaster) use dial-up Internet connection (for example, when travelling).
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  7. #7
    guys,
    I made quota of 10mb to internet guest account(asp user) on windows 2003. Is it some security risk ?
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  8. #8
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    thank for your tips, i just wonder to install a windows server 2003 in to my PC and test run with hosting environment

    so to linux too, but i am not familiar with linux, it take time for me to research, any one can come out a topic on the DIY hosting server?
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  9. #9
    thanks!guys!this article make me know more about Unix and Windows Web Hosting,i'll choose unix hosting next time!
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  10. #10
    the best is that unix is open source
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  11. #11
    I found windows to be less reliable across higher bandwidth sites or servers with alot of sites
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  12. #12
    I will go for a Unix hosting. I think Unix is more reliable than windows in all means.
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  13. #13
    Oh I personally experienced it first hand how fast Linux servers are over Windows. Most of our issues are coming from our Windows hosting accounts. Windows is slower and less stable for me.
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  14. #14
    basically the difference is of ASP .net. windows gives you asp hostting unlike linux.
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  15. #15
    i want to open a forum website , so what type of hosting do i need?
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  16. #16
    Most popular forum software runs on php and is designed with LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) in mind, though php will talk to most database software and runs on all OS flavors.

    I have a pretty detailed setup documented for optimizing and securing Debian Lenny on Elliquiy, serving a million php landings per day and some two million posts between three forums.
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  17. #17
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    Honestly, in my opinion, I would always use Linux Web Hosting over Windows Web Hosting unless there is a specific reason you need hosting on a Windows Server.

    I'm not going to get into every little reason/detail about why Linux Servers are best for Web Hosting, but I've worked in/with the Web Hosting Industry for years and Linux based Web Severs (Such as a CentOS Server with cPanel/WHM) are far superior in speed, reliablity, functionality, and are usually more affordable than Windows Servers.

    I even run Linux on some of my Computers at home (I have Mac, Windows, and Linux machines LOL) and I would use ONLY Linux/Mac if I could but unfortunately many applications I use will only run correctly in Windows so I'm stuck using Windows 7 Ultimate for certain things.

    Anyway, my advice is to ALWAYS choose Linux Hosting over Windows Hosting unless there is a GOOD reason you need Windows Hosting.

    Hope this helps!

    -James
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  18. #18
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    Well if your running php and mysql there is no reason at all to run it on a MS server unless like said above you have a good reason. And the expense is the biggest killer for most windows servers are on average 10% -50% more expensive. The most obvious cause resone is more people can share a linux box than a windows box.
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  19. #19
    UNIX handles high server loads better than Windows and UNIX machines seldom require reboots while Windows is constantly needing them.
    Servers running on UNIX enjoy extremely high up-time and high availability/reliability.
    UNIX servers under high load are superior to Windows.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacobatwood View Post
    UNIX handles high server loads better than Windows and UNIX machines seldom require reboots while Windows is constantly needing them. Servers running on UNIX enjoy extremely high up-time and high availability/reliability. UNIX servers under high load are superior to Windows.
    That's all ridiculous myth and completely false.

    If anything Apache on Linux seems to fail more often than IIS7 does.

    More often than not, uptime and stability are a reflection of the admin's skills, and not the OS in use.

    Windows has licensing costs, and has a somewhat larger resource footprint. But you also gain ASP, ASP.NET and MS SQL, along with access to several Windows-only mail servers and specialty apps. That is why people tend to choose Windows -- there is more enterprise-grade architecture and software involved. That's all it is.

    In fact, as of IIS 7, thanks to Zend's input, PHP and PHP caching has been shown to actually work better on Windows than on Linux, by a decent amount. There are various IT industry magazines and blogs that have discussed this topic several times in the past 3 years.
    Last edited by kpmedia; 03-23-2011 at 03:34 AM.
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  21. #21
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    well, nice discussion,
    "What's the Difference Between Unix and Windows Web Hosting?"
    if this question is raised by the person in need of web hosting then answer is simple, person would need simple online presence (linux/windows) will do. suggest, go for affordable and reliable web host having any of these platform, if you have specific requirement on technology then you must compare both types and go for one that best suite your requirement. both are equally good and it all depends on what technology or platform is required to support your website, & that you are familiar with. As i said for simple web presence both will go on good (linux or windows hosting).
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  22. #22
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    Some off-the-shelf PHP and perl scripts seem to have been written assuming that they are on a Linux (even a specific distro) server. They may also need MySQL, which Windows shared hosting typically won't have. Of course paths can be edited, but some just need a lot of work to run on Windows or in worst case won't work at all. Until a few years ago Chilisoft provided an ASP port for Linux, but it ended up being discontinued.
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  23. #23
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    You have missed a*huge* point here- Security!

    Unix systems are very secured as the risk of getting infected by a malware is very little.
    But Windows!!! That's another thing.
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  24. #24
    and the best thing is, Linux is free.. I would prefer to use Linux server instead of windows. CentOS is probably one of the best web server OS ever.
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  25. #25

    Linux more secured than windows

    Yes, i do agree linux is more secured than windows hosting. We get all solutions easily for linux hosting environment in search engines. If any one looking for website desing with ASP,AJAX etc then they can go for windows hosting.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by lightasair View Post
    Can you run MySQL on a Windows server?
    Yes, Mysql can be run on Windows server. I have windows machine and from windows machine itself, i am posting this comment

    And I have mysql installed on my computer as well
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  27. #27
    Linux is definitely more secured and provide FAR BETTER stability, than Windows Server.

    In case of crash Windows Server boots into stupid recovery, but linux try to recover himself (fsck etc.)
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  28. #28

    Thanks a lot .

    Thanks a lot my friend..This article make me know more about Unix and Windows Web Hosting,i'll surely choose Unix hosting next time!which is very helpful for the users ....
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by eSupun View Post
    You have missed a*huge* point here- Security!

    Unix systems are very secured as the risk of getting infected by a malware is very little.
    But Windows!!! That's another thing.
    Maybe on desktops, but for web hosting this is not true. There is far more malware designed for Linux based hosting, due to it's popularity, than for Windows servers.

    See ClamAV/clamdb for example.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by imcool View Post
    i want to open a forum website , so what type of hosting do i need?
    I would recommend Linux hosting for forum website. It will be cheaper and also linux is more secure than Windows.
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  31. #31
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    Apart from the fact that this is a six year old thread, please lets not continue with the Windows-is-less-secure myth. Thanks
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