Linux v Windows Hosting - Which one to Choose?

While whitespider.ie offers Linux hosting primarily, we are often asked by customers whether they should choose Windows IIS web hosting or a flavour of Linux (Apache, being the most trusted Linux web server) instead.

The answer to the question really depends on the platform and codebase of your website.  Ultimately, all websites are coded to deliver HTML, CSS and JavaScript to the client's browser.  However, the platform itself can vary considerably and this is the key consideration when choosing web hosting.

A Simple Rule of Thumb

As a basic guide, if your website is built on any of the major CMS tools - WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, for example - then you ought to choose a Linux web hosting package.  Extending this rule further, we could confidently say that if the website codebase is PHP, then opt for Linux.

If the codebase is a version of ASP, then Linux isn't the right fit for you.  In this case a Windows Web Hosting package is a much better fit.

Hosting PHP Sites on Windows Servers

To add further complications to the otherwise simple rule of thumb above, it is possible to purchase Windows hosting packages, which implement a 'virtual' Linux environment for you to host your PHP website on. 

This should be avoided, if at all possible.  Many of the benefits of Linux are compromised in these cases.  Furthermore, on basic Windows Business or Windows Shared Hosting packages, many of the server configuration settings are actually managed by the Windows system, which you will have no access to.  You will be at the mercy of your hosting provider in the event of many of the system settings changes you may wish to make as you launch your website and as your website evolves or is maintained.

Our Conclusion

To summarise, if it's a PHP website, choose Linux hosting packages, while if it's an ASP website, choose Windows hosting.  What if it's neither?  Well, according to w3techs.com PHP accounts for approximately 83% of all 'knowable' websites, while ASP accounts for 15% - that's 98% of the websites in their sample covered by just these two languages.

If you are one of the roughly 2% whose website is based on another language, then you'll need to engage any prospective web hosting companies in pre-sales consultation to get the right fit for you.