While your PC is highly likely to run Windows as its operating system, in hosting terms, the more common operating system is Linux. But why?
Linux is usually referred to being more secure and stable and since that is a fairly common stance across the hosting industry that is not just our opinion. Perhaps interestingly, Linux comes in various guises. What all Linux operating systems share are the fact that they are open-source and therefore are usually easier to improve, tweak and close down any security issues. This is partly what makes people view Linux as more stable and secure than Windows as a server operating system.
Windows servers too also come in different forms. New customers to Webfusion signing up to windows based hosting are likely to be hosting on a Windows Server system but older hosting packages elsewhere on the internet might be using Windows 95 or Windows 98. Each with their own frailties and curiosities.
In many way, what choice you make for your server operating system depends upon personal preference. Usually Linux servers are cheaper because being open-source there are not big licence fees to pay as well. Also you should note that just because the computer you are creating a website on or uploading to your hosting from, is running Windows, you don’t necessarily need a Windows server. Your server and PC are different machines and have different requirements.
One of the biggest differences betweek Linux and Windows server systems is that Linux can usually process a higher number of things at the same time much better than Windows can. A higher specification of course can always improve this but it is generally accepted that as Windows’ stability decreases the more processes it is forced to deal with at the same time then Linux provides more power and punch for the same sort of cost.
What you are using your web server for may also have an impact on your choice of operating system. Traditional HTML (HyperText Markup Language) which an end-user’s browser interprets into the web pages can be hosted on any type of web server, regardless of the operating system. However, modern dynamic and interactive web pages put servers under more stress and often require interpretation by additional programming languages (such as Perl, PHP, ASP, Python, Java).
The language used in turn has an impact on the operating system required. PHP like Linux is open-source and free to use. It can be used on Linux and Windows servers and that is one reason it has gained in popularity in recent years. However, ASP is a product of Microsoft, the people behind Windows and as a result is only fully usable on servers with a Windows operating system.
All this means that the choice of Linux or Windows as your operating system may also depend on the knowledge and preference of the people building and maintaining your website. If you are out-sourcing the design, make sure they know the type of web-hosting the site is being used on.
There are therefore differences between Linux and Windows but for many they will not impact on their choice of server operating system. In which case the lower cost of Linux may therefore sway them towards this option and is probably a large reason why Linux has become the option of the majority in recent years.
Did you choose your server operating system for a particular reason?