If you are familiar with web hosting, you probably know of the two mainstream platforms: Windows and Linux. Most shared web hosts offer Linux hosting due to the low cost and low maintenance, but there are also shared and dedicated hosts that offer Windows and even Mac hosting options. When selecting one of these options, it could get confusing, so I’m going to help you understand which platform is best for you.
Don’t Match Your Own Operating System
Before I even dive into the pros and cons of each web hosting option, I would like to advise you not to match your own operating system. Many people who have used Windows their entire lives tend to choose Windows web hosting because they think it will be “compatible” with their computer. Your web hosting has absolutely nothing to do with your home computer and should not be chosen accordingly.
Before I buy anything, I always look at the prices first. I’m sure everyone would love to have a Lamborghini, but if you can’t afford the $300,000 price tag, why even bother test driving one? The same concept can apply to web hosting. Windows and Mac are both closed platforms, which means that only Microsoft (Windows) or Apple (Mac) can release updates or tweaks. Also, every time a new version of the software is released, your web host must pay to get the new version. On the other hand, Linux is free software that anybody can alter or change. Because of this, Linux web hosting is normally the cheapest. In addition, Windows and Mac servers require higher-end hardware which adds to the price the consumer has to pay.
The amount of resources needed to run Linux is often much less than Windows or Mac. Linux web hosting can be run using low-end Dell (or equivalent) servers that are often many years old. Windows Server requires higher-end hardware because, like the Windows desktop operating system, it will start to crash if there is not a fast enough CPU or enough RAM present. In the case of Mac web hosting, it will require Mac hardware to run the software. If you have been to Best Buy recently, the base price of a Mac is around $999 while the base price of a Windows-based machine is around $299. This means that Mac hosting options will be even more expensive than Windows.
Server Uptime and Security
I’m a big believer in the concept of “you get what you pay for”. In the case of web hosting, this concept holds 100% true, assuming you pick a reliable host that lives up to their claims. Mac web hosting is the most secure out of the three options being discussed due to the limited hardware, proprietary Apple software, and complex code, which all make it harder for hackers to get into your server. Mac hosting is also the most reliable as the hardware and software hardly ever have errors that will cause your website to go down. Next in line as far as security and uptime go is Linux. Because Linux is an open-source operating system that hardly gets updated, your web host can use their own security measures to make your website more stable. In the case of Windows hosting, frequent updates are a must and your website will occasionally go down because the web host is updating the Windows software.
Benefits of Mac Web Hosting
In my opinion, Mac web hosting is the best option out of the three. The hardware is top-of-the-line, the software is secure, and you can be confident that your data will never be hacked due to Apple’s high level of security. Mac hosts run Apache servers similar to Linux which allows for basic web code plus software like WordPress, vBulletin, and cPanel to run smoothly.
I have never used Mac web hosting due to the high cost, but I have heard good things about a hosting company called Mac Highway. Their plans start at $29.50 per year for 5GB of hard drive space, unlimited bandwidth, 1 SQL database, 1 website, 3 email accounts, and other basic features. This plan would probably only be good for a very small website, but it wouldn’t satisfy the average blogger. Their plans go all the way up to a $149.50 per year option that includes 100GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, up to 10 hosted websites, unlimited email accounts, unlimited databases, and more. This $149.50 plan would be perfect for myself and almost any other blogger, but it’s a bit expensive for my taste.
Benefits of Linux Hosting
The biggest benefit of using Linux hosting as opposed to Mac hosting is the cost. No, you won’t be running the legendary OS X Server software nor will your site have military-level security (the United States Army uses Mac servers), but you will save money. Linux runs on Apache servers and can run basic web code, WordPress, forum software, etc.
Benefits of Windows Hosting
While Windows servers can run applications like WordPress and vBulletin, it will often be slow or choppy. If you want to run these applications, I would suggest using either Linux or Mac hosting. With that being said, only Windows hosting can run applications that use ASP, .NET, Microsoft Access, or MSSQL databases. These are all Microsoft-proprietary web applications that will not run on Linux or Mac servers. If you need these technologies integrated into your site, you have no choice but to choose Windows.
There are many Windows-based hosts out there, but the one I recommend to most is GoDaddy. GoDaddy uses grid hosting which will limit the downtime you will experience when using Windows. For $56.88 per year, you will receive 10GB of space, unlimited bandwidth, 100 email accounts, 10 MySQL databases, and the ability to run .NET, ASP, and other Microsoft technologies. GoDaddy also has plans that allow up to 1000 email accounts, unlimited sites, and unlimited SQL databases.
Share Your Experiences
If you have any experience with any of these web hosting platforms, I encourage you to share them in the comments below!