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Which Type of Web Hosting is Best? Windows or Linux?

If youíre looking for a web hosting company to host your website, you may have noticed that some web hosts offer Windows hosting and some offer UNIX hosting. With some hosting providers, you may be able to choose one or the other. So, which one should you choose?

It turns out that whatever kind of operating system you develop your website on, or what you use on your own computer doesnít really matter, because both UNIX and Windows servers can handle it! The data that each kind of server serves is the same. The only difference is the type of software that is used to serve the data: Windows or UNIX.

Most web hosts use different versions of UNIX. Linux is one such variety of UNIX. These operating systems are free, and so reducing the cost of web hosting. Windows can be expensive, so some hosts charge more for clients who want Windows, if both types are offered.

UNIX systems are said to be extremely stable. UNIX-based machines can run for years without ever having to be rebooted. Windows is reliable, too, however. UNIX servers may have the edge when it comes to reliability, but Windows servers are still stable enough to cope with the demands of modern website hosting.

Linux and other UNIX-based operating systems are free, and they are also open source software. This means that anyone may alter the source code to update or improve it, or to add new features. The number of dedicated Linux enthusiasts who devote countless hours of free time working on Linux is huge. Windows is proprietary software owned by Microsoft, so users cannot alter or modify the code in any way. Any updates, upgrades or changes must come through Microsoft. And this is absolutely fine with most people. Not everyone is interested in tweaking code or finding out who has made the latest updates etc.

Windows and UNIX-based web hosting also differ in the kinds of software they can run. Windows-based hosts can run Microsoft offerings like MS Access databases, VBScript for tweaking your website, and ASP for delivering dynamic content. Windows can also use UNIX software such as PHP, MySQL, and CGI. UNIX hosts, on the other hand, cannot run Windows technologies. That means that if you need ASP or VBScript, then you should pick a Windows host.

For hosting Windows videos and audio media, you need to have a Windows server. Either UNIX or Windows can handle formats like MP3, Shockwave, and Real Audio. Both types of hosts can accommodate Microsoft FrontPage files, as long as dynamic content and MS databases are not included. If they are, a Windows web host is required.

Both UNIX and Windows can provide your website with dynamic content using MySQL, PHP, and CGI, and there is a vast library of dynamic scripts already available to do this. Except for Windows media such as WMA and WMV, either UNIX or Windows can host whatever kind of multimedia formats you need.

You need to carefully consider what technologies you need as far as dynamic content or multimedia content like streaming audio or video is concerned. When you know what youíll need, it will be easier to make your choice.

People who must have Microsoft databases, Windows media, and ASP will have to choose a Windows host. If you donít need these Microsoft-specific features, you may be better off with a UNIX host. UNIX hosting offers a wider range of choice of web hosts; reliability as good or better than Windows web hosting, and itís often less expensive!


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