The Hostway Blog

Should I choose a Windows or Linux Hosting Plan?

Many new Web hosting customers are confused about which operating system to choose when it's time to pick a Web hosting plan. Logic suggests that your Web server's operating system should match your PC's — if you use a Windows PC, you should use a Windows Web server. But that is not necessarily the case.

What's the Difference?

The right Web hosting plan for you depends on your Web site and what you plan to do with it. The biggest differences between a Windows plan and a Linux plan are the server-side databases and scripts they support. Take a look at the table below to see which applications are supported by each operating system.

Windows Hosting Linux Hosting
Databases Microsoft SQL MySQL
Scripts FrontPage Extensions

PHP

Perl

JMailMSXML

MSADO

ASP

ASP.NET

FrontPage Extensions

PHPPerl

C++

Gcc

Tcl

Python

Access Options Secure Shell Accounts (SSH)
Price Licensing fees add to hosting fees. Open source structure tends to lower the price of hosting.

The next difference you'll notice is that Linux hosting supports SSH accounts. SSH allows you to access your computer remotely. You can execute commands from another computer or share files between the computers through a secure, encrypted channel. This feature is not available for Windows Web hosting.

Finally, there is usually a slight price difference between the two operating systems. Windows hosting tends to be more expensive because it's a proprietary system, and your Web host must pay for the rights to use it.

Making the Decision

If you use a particular database or scripts on your Web site, your choice of Web hosting plans is obvious. Go with the operating system that supports your site. However, if you have a simple "brochure" Web site without plans to use more advanced features in the near future, go for the plan that saves you money (usually Linux).