There are two operating systems/platforms used by a large number of web hosting providers, these being Windows and Linux. Whilst Linux is the cheaper alternative because it is open source, Windows can provide businesses which a highly reliable and scalable web hosting environment when setup correctly. Windows is a commercial operating system, which means that Windows web hosting services are going to cost more than Linux web hosting services, regardless of the form of web hosting you choose to go with. Windows web hosting services are generally there for those who have a specific need for Windows web hosting, such as if you are going to be hosting a website that has been developed using classic ASP or ASP.NET.
What can Windows hosting offer me that Linux hosting can’t?
Although Windows and Linux are able to offer the same feature set to an extent, there are many differences between the two hosting platforms and what they are able to offer higher level users. A Windows hosting service will be able to offer you the following over a Linux hosting service:
- Support for classic ASP and ASP.NET – classic ASP and ASP.NET are both popular scripting frameworks that have been developed by Microsoft, although ASP.NET is the only one of the two which is still in active development – both are hugely popular but since they have been developed by Microsoft, scripts and web pages developed using either will only function correctly on Windows hosting services
- Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server – these are the two main database applications that can be used in a Windows web hosting environment, and since Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server have both been developed by Microsoft they are commercial products which means that databases created using either won’t function correctly on Linux hosting packages
- Microsoft specific applications and services – there are specific applications developed by Microsoft, which will only work on Windows servers but are used by a large number of web hosting providers – such applications include Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Sharepoint.
You should only consider Windows hosting over Linux hosting if you have specific requirements that somehow fall into one of the categories noted above.
What are the disadvantages to using Windows hosting?
You will find with any web hosting services that there are going to be disadvantages somewhere in the pipeline, and the main disadvantages that you may find with using Windows hosting may include:
- Pricing – the cost of Windows hosting services can be off-putting to some users, but it is important to consider the advantages that you will receive from using a Windows hosting service – especially if your requirements dictate the need for a Windows web hosting package
- Reliability and uptime – the reliability and uptime of Windows web hosting services can also be a disadvantage in some cases since the way in which the Windows operating system works does prevent some web hosting providers from being able to offer a reliable service to their Windows hosting customers
- Platform limitations – sometimes there are limitations to using the Windows platform which means that Windows hosting services aren’t suitable for everyone, but for the most part you should be fully aware of what you require from your chosen web hosting package.
You should make sure that a Windows hosting package is the right form of web hosting for you prior to purchase any web hosting service since you want to be sure that you are buying something which you will be able to make full use of.
In conclusion, Windows hosting services are best suited to businesses who have a specific need for a Windows web hosting package – individuals may not find Windows hosting services so useful unless they are web developers who require a Windows hosting environment for testing. Although you may be put off from using Windows hosting due to the disadvantages, in reality you will find that you won’t really have any choice but to use a Windows hosting package if you are considering one; however, in some situations you may be able to find a more beneficial solution which will allow you to use a Linux hosting package over a Windows hosting package.