Windows vs. Linux VPS Hosting – Part I

Kent Roberts
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When determining which VPS hosting package is best for your business, the first choice you will need to make is which operating system (OS) is right for you. Windows and Linux are the two major candidates since most companies choose to host with one of those two options (although FreeBSD is another popular choice that we offer).

In this two-part series, we will look at the differences between Windows Cloud Hosting or Linux VPS hosting as described by industry analysts. At a cursory glance, the primary differentiating factor between the two operating systems is that Windows is a proprietary while Linux is open source. However, as indicated by Host Shopper, your needs for scripting languages will help you zero in on Windows or Linux as well.

Beyond looking at comparing and contrasting the two systems, this series will also review each of the two OS’s in additional detail, with this first installment focusing on Windows. The second part of this series, beyond a fuller exploration of Linux, will address commonalities between the two operating systems – strengths that they share.

Linux hosting

Web hosting used to be the dominion of Linux, an open source operating system with various “flavors” – also called distributions or distro’s – developed by the worldwide coding community. The Host Shopper site lists the two major advantages of Linux (beyond its open-source distinction) as the following:

  1. Lower price – Linux is free to install and download. Now, of course, a hosting company still has to pay for equipment, utilities, and other software (such as firewalls and antivirus), but their savings on the operating system will reduce overhead and typically result in a lower hosting cost.
  2. Wide scripting language compatibility – Usually your Linux Cloud Hosting plan will allow you to work within a full spectrum of coding languages by default, including Python, Perl, and Ruby on Rails, alongside the LAMP bundle component PHP.

One major disadvantage, though, is this:

  1. Lack of support for .NET and ASP – A typical Linux plan is incompatible with ASP and .NET. Note that there are programs that allow ASP within a Linux environment, such as Chilisoft ASP and Apache::ASP, but usually you have to install and configure those third-party applications yourself.

Windows hosting

Often web administrators and others believe that a Windows environment is necessary for hosting if they intend to access their server using a Windows PC. However, that is not the case. The nature of a desktop (the operating system UI of a “client” when interacting with a server) and server environment are dissimilar. Plus, you will primarily communicate with (exchange data with) your virtual private server via a web-based UI or file transfer protocol (FTP), so the operating system on your PC is irrelevant.

The one major advantage of Windows – according to the hosting advice article – is this (as discussed above):

  1. Support for .NET and ASP – You are able to work with scripts from either of these two languages, which are preferred by many developers.

As with Linux, not everything about Windows is advantageous. Two aspects of this type of hosting that could be considered disadvantages:

  1. Availability – Since Linux is so widely trusted, Windows is not quite as commonplace in the hosting world. For that reason, you won’t always find a Windows environment that has the exact parameters you want (unless you choose a completely flexible hosting plan, unmanaged VPS hosting).
  2. Greater expense – Windows hosting typically costs more than Linux, and it often costs substantially more, because the hosting company has to pay to license each machine. There are no licensing costs affiliated with Linux.

Windows Server 2012 R2 VPS hosting – a closer look

Beyond scripting language support, here are a couple of the features available in the most recent version of Windows Server 2012 R2, as outlined by Microsoft:

Server virtualization – Hyper-V, the virtualization platform created by Microsoft, allows you to use a variety of operating systems within one VPS (so that your choice of operating system is less of an either/or decision). Plus, a major focus during development of Hyper-V was that it be highly scalable. On Wikibon last year, Scott Lowe listed several reasons why the inclusion of various Microsoft Azure technologies within Hyper-V effectively make it function as a “gateway to… the cloud.”

Storage – Storage Spaces, the storage component of Windows Server 2012 R2, includes (among others) the following enhancements:

  • Storage tiers, which can be configured to allow processing of the most commonly retrieved files through high-performance solid state drives (SSD’s), while data that is retrieved less often is processed via SATA hard disk drives (HDD’s).
  • Write-back cache, which can permit Windows to use SSD’s for disk writing that occurs randomly, improving your overall performance.

Go to Part II – Similarities, Price Advantage & cPanel >>>

Windows VPS hosting – selecting a provider

Atlantic.Net has been in business since 1994, offering impeccable service that has made us one of the industry’s fastest-growing private companies (as indicated by awards from media outlets including Inc. and Entrepreneur). Visit our turnkey Cloud Hosting page to learn more about our  SSD Cloud Hosting plans, or contact our 24/7 support team (by phone or email) for assistance.

By Kent Roberts


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