Windows or Linux hosting: when Windows is better?

Windows or Linux

Windows or Linux hosting: When choosing the operating system of a virtual web server, they are often oriented either by software (if PHP / MySQL is Linux if ASP / ASP.NET is Windows) or simply because Linux is considered to be better for the server. But is this true and in what cases it is better to prefer Windows?

Choosing a hosting by software

It is believed that if the server needs PHP, MySQL, PythonPerl, or Ruby, then you need to choose Linux hosting. But if the site is written using ASP, ASP.NET, and MS SQL – Windows.

The opinion is a bit wrong. If Windows uses the IIS web server by default, this does not mean that WordPress and similar “engines” cannot be installed on such a server. Do not forget that the software Apache, MySQL, and PHP – cross-platform, that is, there are its Windows-versions and no one will prevent you from installing IIS instead of IIS. As a result, WordPress and other similar engines that require Apache / MySQL / PHP will work easily on a  Windows server.

There are even Apache + PHP distributions (for example, the same XAMPP). Having installed such a distribution kit, the admin will only need to install MySQL and configure Apache: the default settings are not very suitable for production, but the bundle already has a ready-made config.

Is Linux performance and reliability a myth too?

Linux performance is superior and this is an indisputable fact. If you need a high-performance site, you need to choose Linux: with the same hardware configuration, the Linux server will run faster than similar on Windows. In the case of Windows, you need to improve the configuration of the server, and this makes its content more expensive.

But with regard to the reliability of Linux, here it is possible to argue. As an operating system, it can work more reliably, but sites on Linux just fall like any other. The reason lies in both the Apache settings and the principles of its operation – on high-load projects, it is recommended to switch to nginx. In other words, if the admin is unable to properly configure a Linux server, then the reliability and stability of the webserver cannot be expected. And here the matter is not in the operating system but in the skills of a specific person.

Windows is more economical

It may sound crazy, but Windows is more economical. Imagine that there is a small or even medium-sized enterprise that uses cloud technologies in practice – there is 1C, which “rotates” on the terminal server, users get access to it via RDP. The server is quite powerful – there are several dozen users. It is clear that the company, having bought a virtual server, wanted to transfer its website from hosting to it – why pay more for hosting?

As already mentioned, the software is not a problem, and Apache, MySQL, and PHP will also work on Windows. It is clear that if the engine is monstrous like Magento, it is better to use a separate server for the webserver. But if a company has a small website that more resembles a website, a business card + product catalog, then you can deploy everything on one server and save money – you don’t have to buy another virtual server for the site (it doesn’t matter what operating system). As a result, Windows will allow the enterprise to save certain funds that can be spent on other needs.

Summing up:

  • Windows allows you to save money if, in addition to the web server itself, you need other functionality like a terminal server to access certain Windows applications.
  • The reliability of Linux-hosting depends more on the skills of the administrator, and not on the operating system.
  • On Windows, you can install the software necessary for the work of the most popular “engines” of sites – Apache / MySQL / PHP.
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