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Why Is Linux Hosting So Much More Popular Than Windows?

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Although estimates vary, Linux - the most common type of Unix - is generally accepted to have an overwhelming majority over Windows servers. It's no fluke: Google uses more than 15,000 Linux servers to serve up its content.

Why is Linux so popular when it comes to web hosting?

Linux vs Windows

Linux has struggled to get a foothold in the personal PC market. It has less than 1% of market share.

Hosting customers are sometimes frustrated by Linux; they've never used it before, and it's completely unfamiliar to people who use Windows (and, to some degree, Mac OS X).

However, there are good reasons why your server probably doesn't run the same OS as your home computer. Here are a few.

Linux Servers Are More Affordable

Linux is an open source operating system. It can be installed for any purpose free of charge.

The same is true for three key pieces of software needed to serve a website:

  • Apache, Linux's leading Web server application
  • MySQL, the most prominent database application
  • PHP, the most popular scripting language

Large hosts want to push Linux because there are no licensing costs to cover, so they can drop prices and aim for bigger profits. The only thing that needs to be paid for is the control panel tool, if the host chooses to offer one.

The cost angle also applies to hardware. Linux is arguably the best operating system for slower machines. Hosts can use older servers with Linux and get more use out of ageing equipment.

The Industry Preference

As the hosting industry matures, industry standards develop. Robust management and maintenance tools have been developed for Linux servers, making administration easier. Technicians that wanted to work in the hosting industry had to know their way around Linux. Certification systems were set up. Tools like cPanel were developed to hide the operating system from users.

In addition to keeping customers happy, using Linux was just easier for a host. Using the industry standard OS reduced the number of support queries and standardised knowledge and skills amongst personnel.

The Argument For Windows

If Linux is so great, why do some hosts still run Windows? Here are three very good reasons.

  1. Linux can't do everything customers need it to do. Applications written in Windows-only languages like .NET or ASP must be run from a Windows server. There's no getting around it.
  2. Windows servers can run pretty much anything that a Linux server can run. That makes it a good all-rounder.
  3. Some companies employ Windows technicians and don't want to hire extra people just to staff the server room.

The cost savings of Linux are huge, but sometimes there are big practical benefits to Windows that will outweigh the difference in price.

Undecided? Try Linux

Linux tends to be cheaper, and it will give you a consistent experience between hosts. It's scalable, too, so the smallest shared hosting account will work in a comparable way to a dedicated server.

A few basic commands will get your a long way on Linux, and your host is there to help if you need assistance getting started with a new OS.

Image credit: Paolo Masso.

Claire Broadley

About Claire Broadley

Claire has been creating websites for over 20 years and has been using WordPress for over ten. She is an expert in web hosting, design, HTML, and more. She lives with her husband and son in the United Kingdom.


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September 6, 2015

Wow, were you grasping for straws with this statement: “Windows servers can run pretty much anything that a Linux server can run. That makes it a good all-rounder.”

I started with Windows…we had to “re-do” our servers religiously on a monthly reinstall.

Thank God for linux….I’m old now but damn well wish my “education” system would have revealed linux when I was younger (but then again, when I was younger we were just introducing calculators into our schools!).

One thing for certain though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a linux user that longs to go back to windows (unless it’s an ubuntu-user LOL)….j/k



September 6, 2015

Oh I see what happened….the article was written in 2011….nobody in 2015 is NOT taking linux seriously nowadays….God and the cooperative collective collaboration of the world’s countries/peoples have made it work…our customers rave on it (whereas when we pushed the monopoly’s version of an op sys we had to warn our customer’s “watch out for this” “watch out for that” “don’t be fooled by this” “protect yourself with that”….what a joke…now we taunt them… “go to google and ask for a virus, we’ll fix it free if you can do it” …it’s liberating and the honest right (non-capitalist) thing to do.


Alex Bishop

September 23, 2015

Nice blog.
As per my preference, I love working on Linux based architectures. I have many reasons to support my choice , one of them being the fact that I am an open source lover. Unlike the proprietorship owned OS’s , you needn’t worry of data security, viruses, spamming, system crash and hence it even adds on to the overall process of web hosting, making it smoother and flawless.

I have been hosting a site developed on WordPress , running on Ubuntu without any hassles.
I am using an yearly plan of hosting from http://www.ixwebhosting.com who are actually affordable and decent with services.

But I also like the services from BlueHost, Hostgator, GoDadddy.
Some free hosting service providers are also actually worth a go at times, specially during the early, not so rich state wherein all of the trials and testing happens.

Anyways, loved your post.


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