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Hosting Q&A : Windows Hosting
What is Windows hosting?
What are the advantages of using a Windows server platform?
Are there any drawbacks to using a Windows Server platform?
How does a Windows Server compare to a Unix based server?
Go!


What is Windows hosting?
There are two major operating systems used in web hosting industry. They are Windows and Unix. Most web hosts that offer Windows hosting in the market are using Windows 2000 Server and the latest Windows 2003 Server. Windows Server offers web hosting companies ease of administrations and operations. It also offers web hosting customers some unique features that don't exist in Unix/Linux system.

What are the advantages of using a Windows server platform?
Windows Server is developed and sold by Microsoft. The company continually provides supports and updates. Users who are familiar with Windows will find themselves comfortably using Windows Server. Most people using Windows hosting utilize Active Server Pages (ASP) technology. This is the main reason why people are turning to Windows Server hosting. Users can develop web site using the familiar interface of Microsoft tools such as Microsoft FrontPage, Visual Interdev, and Microsoft Access. With ASP users can develop a database-driven web site using Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL as the database.


Are there any drawbacks to using a Windows Server platform?
Unlike Unix, Windows Server requires a far greater level of system resource and at the same time has a reputation for poor server stability. In addition if you are using Windows Server hosting services, you may find yourself investing a lot of money in the development tools. Free scripts are far more abundant for Unix-based websites than for those hosted on a Windows platform.


How does a Windows Server compare to a Unix based server?
Microsoft Windows Server and Unix (of which there are many varieties, and flavors, including Linux, AIX, Solaris and more) are computer operating systems. Both Windows Server and Unix are enterprise application servers that can be used for a variety of critical purposes, including, but not limited to, Web, email, and database hosting. Windows Server was developed by Microsoft and is, in many ways, the flagship of their software solutions.

Unix's development roots begin about twenty years ago - jointly at Berkeley University and AT&T Bell Labs. Unix is often referred to as an "open system", which means that its source code is publicly available. This has both its advantages and disadvantages. While it has allowed many thousands of developers from all over the world working for different companies to contribute to its development, it is also more complex and less coordinated.

Both of these operating systems make excellent platforms for mission-critical Web hosting, and they function well. There are some differences of the two systems:
  • Windows Server supports most Microsoft products including Microsoft FrontPage - a popular Web authoring tool.
  • Windows Server supports Active Server Pages (ASP) - a popular programming that allows you to build dynamically database-driven web pages (connecting to Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL server).
  • Remote interactive access, via telnet or SSH is only supported under Unix. Generally one is able to do more configuration/setup tasks themselves rather than having to request services from web hosts.
  • The majority of existing CGI programs (generally Perl scripts) that are available on the Internet have been developed on Unix platforms and hence tend to install and operate much more smoothly under Unix. Many Perl Scripts are FREE!
The bottom line is that for many web sites the operating system on which the Web server is housed is largely inconsequential. The real question is, "Are you using a specific web site or database technology that is more appropriately hosted on Windows Server instead of Unix (or vice versa)?" If your web site does not require special features offered by Unix or Windows Server, you can choose either Windows Server or Unix to serve your web site. It doesn't matter!



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