Benefits of using Linux over Windows on a Server

When choosing a webserver hosting platform, you are generally faced with two options: Linux or Windows. Each of these two choices has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. However, the Linux server in the end is the more flexible and better choice for most webhosting purposes for reasons we will discuss below.

LinuxThe first reason is that most Linux distributions are free. This greatly reduces the cost of Linux hosting. A windows 2003 server license costs hundreds of dollars per server and it reflects on the hosting fees charged by most companies. Most windows plans are 20-30% more expensive than their Linux counterparts. There are also more Linux distributions than Windows distributions to choose from when it comes to web hosting. Second and probably the most important reason in my opinion, is that the most popular scripting language by far on web, PHP, runs better on a Linux/Apache combination than on anything else. Many people have pointed out that Windows IIS also supports PHP and has all the functions and the speed that Linux has when running PHP. While this sounds good on paper, in reality, I found it to be not true. Having programmed PHP on both Linux and Windows machines, I can assure anyone that PHP on Linux/Apache is far superior in terms of usability and speed than any windows setup for PHP. If your serious about PHP Coding than Linux is definitely the way you want to go. The database is another issue that needs to be considered when choosing between Linux and Winows. PHP’s most common partner for a database is free database MYSQL. MYSQL can run on either Linux or Windows but I’ve found it to run better under a Linux configuration. I’ve found that under windows, this database tends to crash more often, not update right, or have its tables corrupted more often. Many advocates of Windows will point out that the Windows alternative MSSQL is better supported (debatable), has some features that MYSQL doesn’t, and runs just as well or better than MYSQL. While this may be true, it does not nearly offset the fact the MSSQL is not free and the price of a server license could be several hundred dollars. Web hosting companies usually charge an additional premium for MSSQL usage that is based on how big your MSSQL database is. In short, for the price, Linux setups beats Windows setups hands down.

The one other major reason to choose Linux over windows is because of stability. Now Windows has made strides in this category, but still cannot quite match Linux in terms of uptime and durability. While both platforms now can stay up for months at a time, Linux is still better at not crashing over long periods of time. Linux also has less people exploiting its holes for security problems. A windows box on average runs five or six times the risk of being hacked on the root level than a Linux box, if for no other reason than because there are more people interested in hacking Windows than Linux.

With the reasons of better software, stability, and security, it is easy to see why Linux would be the platform of choice for most webhosting purposes.