Should You Choose Linux or Windows for Your Web Hosting OS?


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Your site’s web server operating system (OS) is the software platform on which most everything runs. It also provides the user interface for interacting with the web server itself. With this in mind, it is important to choose the right OS for your specific situation.

There is no universally correct answer to whether to use Linux or Windows. Instead, you need to learn more about each option and decide what works best for your site.

Key takeaways:

  • How Linux and Windows work with web hosting
  • Costs of these two OSes
  • Which tasks run better with Linux versus Windows
  • Which OS is more secure

How Do You Use Linux for Web Hosting?

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

Fortunately, when it comes to web hosting, hosting companies 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 use managed hosting since it requires much less experience and is still affordable.

Which is the more efficient operating system?

Linux OS runs far more efficiently than Windows. Linux 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 more stable. But Windows Servers can also run without problems for a very long time.

How Do You Use Windows for Web Hosting?

When looking at the Windows OS for web hosting, you will use the Windows Server OS. This is quite different from the OS on your home PC. Windows Server is made specifically for powerful devices that run advanced programs like web hosting. Like a PC, the Windows Server OS has a user-friendly interface, especially compared to Linux.

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

Does Windows or Linux Cost More for Web Hosting?

Linux is free, but Windows Servers can be quite costly and generally require either a one-time license purchase or an annual license lease.

With web hosting, you typically don’t have to worry about the licensing aspect of Windows or Linux. The hosting company handles this on your behalf, even with unmanaged hosting. Since the hosting company will pay for these expenses if you get Windows, it passes these costs on to you. You pay slightly more for a Windows-based hosting package than Linux. Yet, for basic shared hosting, the price difference is fairly small when comparing two options with similar specs.

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 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 many complicated tasks usually run better on a Linux site.
  • Low-cost websites: While not exactly a task, consider the cost. Most individuals and small businesses are on a budget for running their websites. Using Linux is a great way to save money without sacrificing quality.
Four features of Linux hosting from GreenGeeks.

What’s Better on Windows Hosting?

While the Linux OS is much more popular than Windows when it comes to web hosting, there are still times when using Windows Server makes sense. The following are some important advantages of Windows:

  • Familiar interface: If you want unmanaged web hosting and are 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, so using Windows hosting to ensure compatibility with your other apps may work best.
  • 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.

Is Windows or Linux More Secure for Web Hosting?

By default, consider Linux more secure than Windows because Linux has far fewer features and components built in overall. This equals fewer opportunities for bugs and vulnerabilities to be found and exploited.

But both Linux and Windows are secure as long as they are set up properly. If you install insecure software or other tools onto your hosting server, though, 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?

In most cases, Linux will be the better OS for web hosting environments. But this is a complicated question to evaluate carefully based on your unique situation and requirements for hosting. Keep in mind we only recommend Windows when you need Windows hosting.

Whether you want Windows or Linux hosting, you must choose the best hosting provider possible. This ensures your site is available for your visitors at all times so you can accomplish all your website goals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Linux vs. Windows for Your Web Hosting OS

Is Linux hosting better than Windows?

Linux hosting tends to be less expensive and more secure than Windows hosting. However, there are some situations where Windows hosting makes the most sense.

What’s the difference between Linux and Windows hosting?

Among other differences, Linux and Windows hosting use different software and programming languages.

Can you switch your host OS later?

Yes, you can change to a different OS, but check its system requirements and back up all your data that will be erased from your current drive. Also, you need to research your software compatibility.

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