Companies who host websites tend to offer servers that are based on one of three popular operation systems: Mac, Windows and Linux. Both the Windows and Linux formats will work on any PC, and each is capable of creating impressive websites. The great news is that your preferred operating system does not have to govern your decision: many web server packages offer FTP access as well as a range of publishing options, so just because you’re currently using Windows 7 or 10 doesn’t mean you have to choose Microsoft web hosting.
This article will make a comparison between Windows and Linux servers, according to our key criteria. For each server, we’ll look at performance, usability, stability, resources, customizability, pricing and support. Keep reading to find out which web server comes out on top in each category, and overall.
Linux OS definitely outperforms Windows as a web server. Linux is considerably stripped down and has less bloatware than Windows, allowing it to use less RAM and take up less of your disk space when you install it. Booting Linux is much quicker than loading Windows as well. Linux will run faster, more reliably, and take up less of your system storage, leaving you more room for software and media files.
If you’re happy to use a computer without an alluring graphic user interface, then you’ll find Linux much easier to use and navigate than Windows. Although Windows does offer a terminal mode, developers prefer Linux’s terminal as it’s comparatively more often used by the community and as such is much better designed. Linux provides full root access, whereas Windows completely restricts it.
Linux-using systems are famous for their capability to operate for several years without crashing or failing; many people using Linux have in fact never experienced a crash. This is comforting for any kind of computer user, but should be particularly attractive to small business and SMEs, for whom losing their computer system can mean devastating consequences.
Linux is much better than Windows at handling large numbers of processes all running at the same time. This is a key reason that Windows becomes less stable over time.
You know how in Windows most system configuration changes require you to reboot before they can be applied? Not with Linux. The vast majority of Linux config alterations can be made while your system is up and running, preventing unnecessary downtime and letting your services continue to run unaffected.
Another factor is that Windows servers frequently need to be defragged to keep them running in top condition. Linux makes this almost redundant. For round-the-clock dependability, opt for Linux.
It’s easy to find resources online to help you learn how to use Linux OS in general and for web developing in particular. Linux’s simplicity and its open-source nature makes it very attractive to many developers, who then want to give back to the community by providing resources to help others learn and improve it.
Windows like to sell clean packages so that they can offer their user-base generalized troubleshooting, and also charge customers regularly for new versions. Windows therefore doesn’t offer much in the way of user customizability. It does sell different builds customized by the company, but you’ll have to pay for those.
Linux can be easily customized according to your specific needs. You can tweak performance, download and install new apps, alternative software and so on all through the Linux terminal. Since Linux offers all users significant root permissions, it is easier to modify Linux and continually customize.
Windows is part of the Microsoft Corporation, and users are charged a fee to be able to run a licensed copy of the software. Occasionally users who have paid for a previous version will be offered the chance to upgrade to a newer version for free. This was the case with the most recent Windows 10. Microsoft arguably decided to be generous in this case because the previous version, Windows 8, was notoriously terrible to use and crashed frequently. Many customers went through a lot of effort to downgrade back to Windows 7, and consequently lost a lot of faith in the Windows development priorities.
Linux, on the other hand, is totally free to share, develop, install and download.
The Linux OS benefits from the support of an open and enthusiastic community of developers who help improve the OS. The continual improvement of Linux is mainly user-led, which makes it very different from Windows or Mac.
Both Windows and Mac employ huge teams of developers to work on new builds – although both operating systems release updates for each finished build, the main focus is on working secretly to complete a brand new build with many benefits or at least new features compared to the current one, with a recognizably different graphic user interface. Bringing out releases like this generates customer interest and entices customers to buy new products regularly. Linux on the other hand is more interested on bringing out user visible improvements as soon as they are stable.
Because Windows is sales-driven and interested in keeping their market both satisfied and also disinterested in getting to hands-on with their OS, they employ a huge staff force to respond to user queries and issues. If it’s important to you to be able to easily navigate to a help page to troubleshoot, or phone someone up and have them help you resolve your problem, then Windows might actually be better for you.
Given all the benefits of Linux over Windows when compared in each of the above selection criteria, Linux definitely comes out on top. The only obstacle preventing it from being recommended more often is that most computer users, even web developers, aren’t as familiar with Linux OS as they are with Windows. If you have the time to invest in building up a fluency in Linux, the stability, functionality-over-fancy, and open-source nature of the Linux platform can be very worthwhile for a web developer.