Choosing a Hosting Environment – Linux vs Windows

Choosing a hosting environment is one of the first decisions when selecting a Web hosting package. Although you may already have a preference, consider these key differences when creating a new Web project for yourself or a client.

When embarking on a new Web project, one of the first decisions to make is regarding the Web hosting platform. Both Linux and Windows platforms are proven to be reliable and able to support a range of Web projects, so it is not a question of one being superior to the other. While you may have an allegiance to either Linux or Windows based on your choice of operating system or what you’ve been advised, it is essential to choose the technology that is more suited to your style of Web building and fitted to your project’s requirements.

Consider the tools and scripting language you plan to use – if you use PHP, MySQL, Python, Ruby or Perl together with a variety of software programs, Linux is the one for you. If the applications you plan to use are Windows-specific, then Windows hosting is likely to be the right choice. Most Web hosts offer packages that include an array of additional features to maximize both platforms. Either way, there are a variety of ways to bring your Web project to life.

Linux Hosting Overview

When it comes to Web hosting, Linux is widely considered to be the best operating system for Web servers. Characteristically reliable, stable and efficient, Linux supports even the most demanding environments for Web and mail servers.

Linux Web Hosting Packages support the most popular and important scripting languages, including PHP 5.5 and 5.6. Frameworks like Zend, make it easier for you to display dynamic content, quickly access databases, and adapt the functionality of the Web project to your requirements. With 1&1’s git versioning tool, you have the option to save various work items on your Web space.

Linux is also ideal for the kind of websites that display information as a brochure, in newsletter format or as data sheets. Linux works well for ‘brochure-ware’ sites that offer interaction via inquiry forms, online purchasing and other eCommerce functions.

When looking for ready-to-use solutions to power your website, applications such as blogs, content management systems (CMS) or discussion boards, more open-source applications can be found for Linux hosting.

Windows® Hosting Overview

Windows facilitates varying degrees of design and management through a drag-and-drop philosophy, via .NET Framework and SharePoint. By this, Windows presents an advantage when it comes to the integration of Windows applications when you’re designing your website. Essential Windows-specific applications such as ASP® will work comfortably with this particular type of hosting package.  Windows Web Hosting Packages support all .NET Framework versions up to 4.5 and ASP.NET, PHP and Perl. A separate application pool with up to ten .NET applications is also included.

Software for Windows® hosting is more likely to be based on licensed sources that are available to purchase at an additional fee. Yet Windows presents an advantage if you plan to incorporate searchable databases within your website. The reduced development time and better integrated functionality characteristics of Windows® Hosting offer a real advantage for users wishing to incorporate database facilities to their website.

Apps and Services

If all you want to do is create a plain, vanilla website using simple design tools, then either Linux or Windows will do the job. However, if you are looking to build something specific such as a blog or eCommerce site, but do not necessarily want to code something from scratch, then you will want a platform that provides easy access to pre-built sites – and that means Linux hosting is the way to go.

Linux platforms support the most popular open-source applications and content management systems. This includes popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, Typo3, and Magento. Many Web hosting providers provide tools to simplify the process of setting up Web projects using these popular applications.

With Windows-based hosting, you can add all of this functionality separately, but you may have to pay for the privilege – however, tools like Visual Studio offer free versions to help you get started.

Language and Scripting

Both Linux and Windows packages support key languages such as PHP and Perl, although there is a subtle difference in support. For example, at 1&1, Windows packages currently support PHP 5.3.5, while Linux supports PHP 5.5 and now PHP 5.6 Beta.

Linux packages exclusively support the Zend Framework for PHP 5, plus Ruby and Python languages, while Windows packages add support for Windows-based technologies such as ASP.NET and .NET Framework 4/4.5 as well as ASP MVC 3 and 4 and MS SQL 2012 databases.


As Linux is an open-source system, most of the tools and scripting languages used on a Linux-based Web platform are also free and open-source. This obviously results in a lower cost overall. They may lack some of the finesse of Windows-based tools, but you can set up anything without having to pay any licensing costs. Software for Windows-based hosting usually comes with a cost attached, although some free solutions can be found.

Linux and Windows differ in price at many Web hosting companies, often with Windows being more expensive due to the additional licensing fees required.

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