You need to make many decisions when choosing what type of web hosting you need for your small business’s website. Choosing which operating system (OS) to use on your site’s web servers is a big decision.

Like your normal PCs, the OS is the software platform on which most everything else runs. It also provides you with the user interface for interacting with the web server itself. With this in mind, it is important to choose the right one for your specific situation.

Just remember, there is no universally correct answer to this question. Instead, you need to learn more about each option and decide what works best for your site.

To learn more about this topic, we have compiled some important information for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Linux is an open-source OS that has a basic graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows, most of the configurations are done using a command-line interface.
  • Windows Server is made specifically for powerful devices that are used to run advanced programs like web hosting.
  • Linux OS is much more popular than Windows when it comes to web hosting, there are still times when using Windows Server just makes sense, the advantages of using Windows are its familiar interface, compatibility with other systems, and the Plesk control panel.
Linux vs Windows
Source: A2Hosting.com
Hosting for Every Website
Source: HostGator.com

Introduction to Using Linux for Web Hosting

Linux is an open-source OS that has been around since the early 1990s. While it does have a basic graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows, most of the configurations are done using a command-line interface. For many people, this can be intimidating since you need to know many commands.

Fortunately, when it comes to web hosting, hosting companies are the ones that manage most of the actual OS configuration. You get access to the control panel to manage your website, but unless you sign up for an unmanaged hosting account, you won’t have to worry about the technical support of the Linux OS. 

Almost all individuals and small businesses want to use managed hosting since it requires much less experience and is still very affordable.

 

A2Hosting Features
Source: A2Hosting.com

Source: A2Hosting.com

Another important thing to know about the Linux OS is that it runs far more efficiently than Windows.

When we say runs efficiently, we mean the OS uses comparatively little disk space, memory, and central processing unit (CPU) processes, leaving these resources available for operating your website

In addition, since Linux has much less overhead, it’s generally going to be more stable. However, Windows Servers can also run without problems for a very long time.

One other important point to note here is that the vast majority of websites, especially those for small businesses, use a Linux based operating system for their web hosting servers. 

Unless you have a specific reason for avoiding Linux, this is almost certainly the direction you will want to go for your company’s site. 

Linux vs Unix

When evaluating your options for your small business’s website, you may notice that some hosting companies have Linux and others have Unix. For the vast majority of people, and especially for small businesses, it does not matter whether a hosting company is using Linux or Unix. 

We’ll just be referencing Linux to keep things simple, but note that hosting companies may also use Unix. Linux is actually just an open source version of Unix, and it is the most popular version for web hosting. 

We will simply be using Linux as an umbrella term for all the Unix based web hosting OS’s to avoid making this article unnecessarily technical and complex. 

Introduction to Using Windows for Web Hosting

When looking at the Windows OS for web hosting, you will be using the Windows Server OS. This is quite a bit different than the OS on your home PC. Windows Server is made specifically for powerful devices that are used to run advanced programs like web hosting.

Like a PC, the Windows Server OS has a very user-friendly interface that makes it easy to use, especially compared to Linux.

Keep in mind that, when it comes to hosting, you’ll very rarely need to interact with the OS at all. Most of your time and effort will be spent directly managing your website instead.

Many small businesses think that they need to use Windows for web hosting since that it the operating system they most commonly use on their computers. 

However, unlike with PCs where you regularly interact with the OS, most people won’t see these operating systems much (if ever) when running a website.

Does Windows or Linux Cost More for Web Hosting?

Linux is a free OS that you can use without any cost. However, Windows Server operating systems can be quite costly and generally require either a one-time license purchase or an annual lease of the license.

When it comes to web hosting, however, you typically won’t have to worry about the licensing aspect of Windows or Linux. The hosting company handles this type of thing on your behalf.

Even with unmanaged hosting, you can get the hosting company to take care of this for you. Of course, since the hosting company will be paying for these expenses if you opt for Windows, they’ll pass these costs on to you.

Because of this, you can expect to pay slightly more for a Windows-based hosting package than you would for Linux. 

For basic shared hosting, however, the price difference will be fairly small when comparing two options with similar specs. Of course, as a business owner, every dollar counts so you will want to at least consider how much extra this will cost over time. 

Which Tasks Are Better on Linux Hosting?

Understanding what types of tasks and services run better on Linux than Windows for web hosting is one of the most important things to consider. The following are some of the key times when Linux will be a better option:

  • Busy websites: If you have a website that gets a lot of traffic, Linux typically can handle it better since it keeps more of the system resources available for the site.
  • Complex activity: Websites that perform lots of complicated tasks usually run better on a Linux site.
  • Low-cost websites: While not exactly a task, you should consider the cost. Most individuals and small businesses are on a budget when it comes to running their websites. Using Linux is a great way to save money without sacrificing quality.

The majority of small business websites are run on Linux hosting because Linux is more suited for basic web hosting services and tasks. This suitability makes it easier and less costly to get the hosting you need on a Linux system.

 

GreenGeeks Hosting Features
Source: GreenGeeks.com

Which Tasks Are Better on Windows Hosting?

While the Linux OS is more popular than Windows for web hosting, there are still times when using Windows Server makes sense. The following are some important advantages of Windows that you shouldn’t discount:

  • Familiar interface: If you want unmanaged web hosting and you’re more comfortable with the Windows interface, this can be a huge advantage. You won’t have to relearn how to do everything on Linux to keep your server running smoothly.
  • Compatibility: When you have a website that interacts with other systems at your business, it may be necessary to use Windows. Applications running on Linux and Windows generally don’t communicate easily with each other, so using Windows hosting to ensure compatibility with your other apps may make sense.
  • Plesk control panel: If you’re not a fan of cPanel (the Linux-based control panel) or you love the Plesk control panel, designed specifically for Windows hosting, then choosing a Windows solution is a good idea.

While most small businesses will not be in a situation where they need Windows hosting, it does become somewhat more common with larger organizations. 

As a company grows and becomes more complex, it may need to use Windows servers, or even have its site running on multiple servers including both Linux and Windows. 

Is Windows or Linux More Secure for Web Hosting?

By default, you can consider Linux a more secure OS than Windows. We say this because Linux has far fewer features and components built in overall. Fewer features mean that there are fewer opportunities for bugs and vulnerabilities to be found and exploited.

However, it is important to note that both Linux and Windows are very secure as long as they are set up properly. If, however, you install insecure software or other tools onto your hosting server, it won’t matter what OS you have.

The bottom line is always that you ― and your web hosting company ― need to take great care to ensure security comes first on every server.

Should You Choose Linux or Windows for Web Hosting?

Linux is the better choice of OS for small business web hosting environments. We only recommend Windows when you know that you need Windows hosting.

However, you need to evaluate your unique situation and requirements for hosting carefully. Whether you want Windows hosting or Linux hosting, you must choose the best hosting provider possible

Ensuring you have the best web host means your site is available for your visitors at all times so that you can accomplish all your website and business goals.