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What operating system does your web host use—and why does it matter? CentOS is one of the most popular operating systems among web hosts. A free and versatile OS based on the popular open-source Linux system, CentOS is a robust and affordable choice for hosting resellers and others who prefer a Linux-driven server.

One of the many factors that goes into choosing a web host is which operating system (OS) drives your host’s servers. Generally, you’re going to be deciding between a Windows-driven server, or one running some version of UNIX (or the popular open-source version of UNIX, Linux).

Unlike your personal computer, you may not give much thought to what OS your servers are running, as long as it keeps your website up and running. But the OS your host uses can affect how your website performs, what kind of controls you see on the backend, and what kinds of applications and content your site can use.

That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what OS options are out there, and how they can affect your hosting experience.

What Exactly is CentOS Hosting?

CentOS is short for “Community Enterprise Operating System." The software is a free community-supported computing platform, derived from the source code of a Linux distribution created for commercial applications called Red Hat Linux.

Linux-based hosting is very common in the server setups of Web hosting resellers, including popular hosts like Bluehost, InMotion, and JustHost. In fact, your current host might be using it right now to run their servers.

Though it can be a great OS for private users, Windows isn’t ideal for running servers (though there are other benefits to Windows hosting depending on your needs). A web host that uses a Windows-run server might be easier for the host to set up, but would require more RAM and other resources to run your website—possibly running up your bandwidth, and your bill.

On the other hand, a Linux-based server will take a bit more know-how to set up and configure properly, but the lightweight, low-overhead nature of the Linux OS makes it ideal for running servers.

And unlike other Linux distributions, CentOS is targeted for commercial purposes rather than tinkering or “hackability" by its users. The developers of CentOS are more conservative, placing a priority on consistent performance, security, and compatibility rather than trying to be cutting edge and keep up with all the latest developments. As a result, CentOS has a longer release cycle between versions, and is generally more polished, stable, and reliable than other Linux distributions.

Benefits for Hosting Resellers

As a primary operating system for web hosting resellers, CentOS is often used to support both Web Host Manager (WHM) and cPanel installations.

If you’ve ever gone “behind the scenes" to set up your website, create accounts, add content, or install applications, you’ve probably used a control panel application like WHM or cPanel to do so. Both WHM and cPanel are optimized for Linux, so a host with CentOS is a good choice if you prefer using one of these control panels.

If you’re planning to resell hosting on your own site, cPanel and WHM are the primary components you’ll want to add to your CentOS installation.

In a nutshell, WHM hosting allows you to create and manage hosting accounts for your clients. You can then use cPanel (managed by you via WHM) to give your customers a control panel they can use to set up and maintain their own hosted sites.

Other Benefits to CentOS Hosting

CentOS is not limited to hosting resellers, of course.

As a fully-featured Linux variant, CentOS can be used to set up blogging, ecommerce and multimedia content solutions (including podcasting) for your site.

It also supports all of the most popular coding and scripting languages, and their frameworks, such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, Perl, Python and Common Gateway Interface (CGI). Whether you want to write a small custom script for your WordPress installation or build multilevel database management applications, CentOS has you covered.

CentOS is supported by most hosting providers, especially those specializing in customers who resell hosting themselves. As one of the industry standards for Linux, pricing generally falls in line with other Linux-driven hosting packages. Be sure to check with your hosting provider for complete details.

CentOS Frequently Asked Questions

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