Differences between UNIX and Windows Hosting

By Stacy Clifford

Some web hosts are offering UNIX hosting and Windows hosting. What's the difference?

The terms UNIX hosting and Windows hosting refer to the operating system (OS) that is running on the server. The operating system, of course, is the software that allows the computer to function and manage all of the other hardware and software that is installed on it.

Chances are good that you are reading this on a computer running a version of the Windows operating system, the most popular operating system in the world for personal and business computers. Other operating systems that are growing in popularity are Macintosh and various versions of Linux. However, the operating system you use on your computer is irrelevant to which type of hosting you choose. Here are some of the main features of UNIX and Windows:

UNIX Hosting

Most of the web servers in the world today run on one of the many variants of UNIX. The UNIX operating system was originally developed by universities for servers and networking, and many different versions have been written by programmers around the world under the open-source protocol, which means that the code for the operating system is openly available for programmers to customize and make improvements.

Linux and BSD are the most popular forms of UNIX and come in many varieties, such as Red Hat Linux, Debian, SuSE, and FreeBSD. Most of these different versions (and much of the software that runs on them) can be obtained for free, which makes UNIX hosting cheaper for a web host than other operating systems and allows them to offer lower prices.

UNIX hosting platforms are generally considered to be stable, secure, powerful and fast. Most web programming applications can be performed by software that is available for a UNIX platform. "UNIX hosting" has become a generic term to refer to any platform that is derived from the original UNIX.

Windows Hosting

Microsoft has developed its own operating system for servers as a special version of its Windows operating system, Windows Server 2003. It is a commercial product which requires the operator to purchase a license, which increases the cost of operation for the web host and usually results in higher hosting prices.

Windows is designed to be user friendly, but it is generally considered to be less powerful and secure than UNIX for operating in a network environment. ASP, ASP.NET, and ColdFusion are scripting languages which will only run on a Windows server, as will the Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access database programs. These are popular for certain web programming applications, and if you are planning on using them to build your website, you will need to find a Windows host.

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Stacy Clifford

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