I've had many years of experience using Unix servers but a potential client will need a Windows server to run several of his sites from.
I have no experience of using a Windows server, and the idea makes me feel a little sick, but basically I need to know:
1) Is it an easy process to transfer sites between two windows servers (including databases)
2) Are they easy to manage? Will I be fine with a few hours research to pick up the basics?
3) Can anyone recommend a UK host with excellent support for a Windows server - I generally prefer smaller companies with friendly and personal support rather than larger companies such as Fasthosts
4) How much should I expect to pay for a server?
Thanks in advance.
I understand your feelings about using to a windows machine - I have always done my best to convert my clients away from windows. Its not only the holes in the OS, or the security issues but most importantly the reliability and the requirement to reboot after any installation or update creating a little downtime... Which of course is a big issue!
I am guessing you are familiar with Unix servers? And have used windows before? The commands are a little different, and the way some stuff works and needs to be installed is a little different too. Other than that it is quite similar i guess...
Transferring websites to/from a windows machine should be easy but it depends on what type of control panel you are using. If you have a plesk or cpanel on the unix server and enkompass or plesk on the windows machine it should be relatively easy to move the accounts over, otherwise it is just a matter of creating a new account with the new control panel on the windows machine and transferring all the data accordingly from the unix to the windows via FTP. The way the accounts are setup depends on your control panel. Databases depends on how you setup the windows machine. All the packages available for unix generally have an equivalent for windows even MySQL and PostgreSQL - which should make it easy to move the databases over from one to another (still depends on the control panel you are going to be using).
With a little experience of windows (OS) and Unix - it is only a matter of adapting one method to the other which you should be fine with. I think a few hours is a little ambitious but as a manner of speech I guess that yes that is all you really need.... Management is relatively easy (yet again depends on the control panel).
Recommendation of a host for a windows server is something I am not sure to be able to help with. I moved most of the servers I had in the UK to the states or other places because of the ridiculous prices here. And the speeds being very similar. Yes the ping is a little slower but the difference people see between 54ms (uk) and 150ms (us) is so small that unless you were running online games it wouldn't make a single bit of difference as long as the datacenters are well connected. I understand why you would prefer a smaller company but I guess that the bigger companies would be more reliable? NetBenefit (http://www.netbenefit.com/) are very very good - I have used them before and they were excellent in every possible way. or RackSpace (uk) were very good too, used to have a couple of servers there and it really was good, had no downtime... But this was a while ago - so please double check for yourself and read recent reviews! Both used to have excellent service and customer care especially netbenefit!
How much you should expect to pay depends on the features you require... If you want a nice windows server running... Then in the UK you'd be looking at about £80 + per month. (whatever you will be looking at a little more expensive than a unix server. around £20+ difference)
Thanks for your help Alex,
I'll actually be transferring sites from windows to windows, I'm just a little worried about the unknown especially transferring databases from windows to windows.
It'll be a learning curve, not a particular fun one, but I'll get there.
Cheers for you advice.
Well Windows is always a little funny with certain things... But I guess all experience is good experience?
Transferring from Windows to Windows shouldn't be too much hassle... All depends on the control panels on both... I think most common control panels have a transfer function which should be easy to use... However... Manual database transfers are quite easy.. Just export the old one (in any suitable format just like on unix you probably would export as an SQL file) depends on the type of databases? If its Oracle - there is also an automatic export function... just need to find it.. Then on the new server there is an import button and it should work without a glitch!
Then just need to change the username and password for the access (if any) and VOILA! (you are done!)
You seem to be in the same boat as me except backwards. I find this conversation quite interesting since I have the same feelings going the opposite direction. The ease and learning is all relative. If you go with Server 2008 then your reboots will be minimal at best. Our 2008 servers have been booted once or twice in the past year. You still have to do reboots with certain patches but near as many as people believe. I read all the time about people saying Windows needs rebooted once a week but that is not the case any more. If you are going to get your own server and as a *nix guy, you should consider running Windows 2008 in Core mode. This removes the GUI and all the high level functionality. You would use the new PowerShell to administer everything. In this case, with the GUI removed and most of the top level apps gone, your server will need rebooted similar to a Nix box. I have seen Core installed servers run for well over a year between reboots.
Don't get sick over it, its just different. Windows servers are not evil. I know 100% how you feel but you will do fine. I agree a few hours is pushing it on learning all you need to know. I have used Windows server since the NT days and have had Linux servers for a year or so now and I still dont know the Linux stuff as well as I should. Its the learning curve and trying to adjust to the "why did they did it lke this" when you are so used to one way, the other side will always look wierd.
Cheers Phenglai, good points.
I realise it will take longer than a few hours to learn everything, just need to pick up the basics at first. I think it'll be best if I go for a managed server from a provider and start from there.