Should you choose Linux or Windows web hosting?

When it comes to web hosting, you will most likely see two options when signing up for your hosting plan online.  The choice will be between having the operating system on your hosting server use Linux or Windows.

What is the difference between Linux and Windows?

Before you can make a decision about which operating system you should use on your web hosting server, it is important to know what each of them offer.

Linux is the most widely used operating system and also comes as standard with many commercial hosts today. Linux also has most of the tools and features that web designers come to expect, and since it is by far the most popular, the tools are constantly improved and are evolving.

The back-end dashboards that are available for Linux-based hosting packages are also much more popular.  These include the widely used cpanel which is said to be offered by around 90% of web hosts in the world, meaning that there is a lot of information and support available about it online.  It’s a web hosting management tool and features a clean and simple user interface.

Similarly, Web Hosting Manager (WHM) is also available on Linux and will be familiar to those who have a reseller hosting plan. It allows the administrator to see the usage statistics of all websites/accounts on the server, as well as to create new hosting accounts.

For Windows-based hosting plans, you only really have the one mainstream option when it comes to hosting management, and that is through a piece of software called Plesk.

However, it’s not all in favour of Linux.  If you need to run Microsoft applications such as SharePoint or MS Access on your website, then you’re going to need to use a Windows hosting package.  Additionally, many older coding languages also need a Windows operating system, including ASP.Net, C#, Remote Desktop and MySQL.

If you’re looking to use functionality on your website that requires Apace scripts, then you’re going to need Linux for that rather than Windows.

When it comes to security, despite claims in some areas that web servers using Linux are more secure, both Linux and Windows operating systems as secure as each other, so this should not cloud your judgement.

How to decide which is best for me?

While every website is different, there are some general guidelines to follow when trying to decide whether you need a Windows or Linux web hosting plan.  If you’re moving an old and complex website from another server, check what code it has been written in.  Many old code languages, including those mentioned above, that were used for application-heavy websites are going to require Windows systems.

However, if you’re building a new website and using an open source content management system (CMS), it is highly likely that Linux is going to be the right option.  The vast majority of websites around the world are based on Linux, and many of the features you get with it are considered industry standard.

Many modern content management systems run on Linux while applications featuring PHP, Python and Perl are also Linux-based. Another important consideration is if you are using any WYSIWYG editors, such as Dreamweaver or other applications that are similar.  You will need Linux to run these too.  Even MySQL is now recommended by many companies to be used on Linux rather than Windows.

If you’re reading all of this and have no idea what any of it Is, and you’re setting up a new website for the first time, then the simple option is to opt for Linux.  It will almost certainly cater for all of your needs.


Author: Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.