If you have a website, you will need a web hosting provider. The two most common hosting providers are Linux and Windows. These two hosting providers are very similar to each other, but both Linux and Windows have their pros and cons. The easiest way to choose a hosting provider is by weighing the various advantages provided by each host and deciding which best meets your specific needs.

Server Access

The primary difference between the two web hosting providers is how the server is accessed. Both Linux and Windows provide FTP access to your files. FTP is how files are transferred from the hard drive to the web server. SSH and Telnet are an additional way to directly open a window on the server so files can be manipulated through a Unix Command Line. Linux typically offers SSH or Telnet access, whereas Windows does not usually have Telnet access. You can set up Telnet access on Windows, but it is only offered through a few hosting administrators. There is a significant difference in how the Windows servers and the Linux servers are maintained. For someone who is fairly new to an operating system, Linux can be difficult to operate.


The security available is an important factor to consider when choosing a web host. Although some people may argue that Windows servers are more vulnerable than Linux, in reality they both have problems with security. The security is more important at the hosting administration level than at the operating level, so if the administrators are good, then chances are your server will also be more secure. Both Linux and Windows have developers that are continuously working to improve security, so the difference is actually slight. The way to get the best security is through the hosting company you choose, not through the web hosting provider.

Writing Pages

Both Linux and Windows servers will serve JavaScript and HTML pages. In the majority of cases, Windows servers use files that are named *.htm, whereas Linux files are named *.html, but there is no significant difference between the two, except the file names.

Cost and Databases

Linux is also less expensive than Windows to set up, however, if you use Microsoft proprietary software, you will have to use Windows hosting. One of the primary benefits of Linux over Windows is cost. Linux is an open source operating system so it is free for public use. Many people, however, opt for Windows despite the cost because of the compatibility offered for other Microsoft products as well as the familiarity in interface. Both Windows and Linux can access database applications such as MySQL, but only Windows offers.Net applications and/or ASP which necessary for many websites.


Linux runs on several different hardware platforms, whereas Windows is more limited to the availability of power for several platforms. Although Linux can be configured to run on iPods, smart phones and/or Apple products, Windows has the advantage when it comes to configuring hardware devices such as digital cameras, printers or scanners. Windows provides easily access to the driver software for these devices, whereas Linux makes it difficult to locate the drivers for these types of devices.

The bottom line is that what a hosting package actually provides, especially in areas such as security, is dependent on the services and features offered by the web hosting service you choose. Both providers have their pros and cons; it basically just comes down to which web hosting provider you are more comfortable or familiar with.

About the Contributor:

This post was contributed by David Kendall. David is a freelance technology writer and a search engine optimization expert. His articles mainly appear on marketing and SEO blogs.