Should Your Website Be Hosted On Linux or Windows?

One of the last things that the average person thinks about when it comes to hosting is what Operating System the website is being hosted on. It may not matter to some whether your WordPress site is hosted on a server running Linux or Windows. Many people probably don’t even know what Linux is or have just heard it mentioned in passing. So today we take a look at the two operating systems and looks at the pros and cons of each when it comes to hosting a WordPress Site.

About Linux

What does Linux mean to you? It is possible that you have never even heard of it. Or maybe you heard a computer geek mention it. Maybe you’ve used it. That’s OK.

Linux is a Unix-based operating system that has been available to the public since 1991. Unix dates to 1969 and was popular with academic institutions and businesses but it had a major problem since users could not modify it. As a side note the Mac OS is a Unix-based operating system, in fact it is the most common Unix-based operating system in the world. Frustrated by licensing issues of the time, Finnish student Linus Torvalds began to develop his own as a project and developed what he named Linux and made it available to the world via FTP.

It is open-source so it can be modified by a user and in most cases it can be obtained free of charge and distributed free of charge. There are several different “flavors” of Linux, like Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Red Hat and more. Linux never proved to be a viable competitor to Windows in the personal computing market but it has proven popular in other ways, particularly running servers and with smartphone operating systems. Yes, your smartphone probably runs a variant of Linux.

About Windows

You are of course much more familiar with Windows. Originally released in 1981 to compete with Apple’s OS it did not achieve commercial success until 1990 with the release of version 3.0. With the release of Windows 95 in 1995 Windows has become the global leader in personal computing and has helped to bring computers into more homes around the world than any other company. Because of this success its parent company Microsoft is one of the three most valuable companies in the world.

Pros Of Using Linux

Stability and Security

Linux offers many advantages over Windows when it comes to running a server, which is at the core of website hosting. One of the biggest is that Linux is more stable. You have probably had your Windows system lock up on you at some point, either forcing you to wait for it to respond or to reboot it. This does not happen anywhere near as often with Linux. Linux is able to handle running different databases, applications and tasks far more efficiently.

When it comes to updating a Linux installation no reboot will be required to complete the installation so a Linux server can potentially have perfect 100% uptime. As for security, Linux also is superior. Few cyber attacks have been able to compromise Linux systems (although some of this also is related to the extreme popularity of Windows being used with personal computers and servers as well). Part of the operating system though is its rights management feature where certain tasks can be delegated to only administrators (root) and root accounts have full access and visibility of every file, which makes dealing with potential malware and other issues much easier.


Linux hosting services often utilize tools like cPanel as a simple interface to install and update software, run databases or modify PHP code. These features can be helpful for new or inexperienced users. cPanel is the standard control panel for web server administration and allows the installation of WordPress with one click of the mouse. cPanel also makes it easier to manage multiple domains and to allocate resources for clients. This is partially why many of the best web hosting companies in the world run Linux.


It is also possible that a machine running Linux can operate for a decade or more. Red Hat Linux was discontinued in 2004 but can still be found in use owing to its robustness as well as security features. Linux is a scaled-down operating system and does not require constant updates and the installation of new features, which means the operating system and the hardware does not need to be updated every few years.


Servers running Linux also have one last major advantage. We’ve mentioned that as an operating system Linux can be obtained free of charge (there can be a charge for commercial versions). Since Linux is open source that also means that there are no license fees that need to be purchased, and hence passed on to the customer. In many cases web hosting is cheaper with Linux.

Pros Of Using Windows

Familiarity and Ease of Access

The biggest advantage of using Windows is familiarity. Most personal computer users use Windows so using a Windows machine for server hosting means the learning curve is much lower. For anyone who has seen Linux or tried to use it for the first time it can be intimidating with different syntax and different functions. Linux is based off of a command line though a graphical user interface (GUI) is also available and can be utilized, while Windows is a GUI environment with a command line interface hidden away. Windows is also better for users who want to interact directly with the operating system rather than using an interface like cPanel to install and update software.


Windows has the advantage of being compatible with software that is available. Not all software works with Linux and installing software in a Linux environment can be a challenge. Windows also has its own software for a hosting environment and while it may not be on par with the software available for Linux it is improving with Windows Web Application Gallery now very similar in function to cPanel.


Where Windows has a major advantage is with support. Windows offers both web support and phone support (for a fee). Linux support is mostly available through web forums, which can be intimidating for a new user when they are searching for answers. While the Linux community is willing to help, the user needs to learn a new set of terminology in order to communicate their issues just to start, much less to understand a fix. Windows does not have this problem to this degree as most users are already familiar with the terminology.

Similarities For Both

One of the most critical things when it comes to hosting and keeping your website up and running is to have a hosting agreement or a dedicated server. Running a Linux-based server requires a special toolset and knowledge which is why Linux administrators are in demand position. But hiring a Windows administrator is not cheap either. The knowledge that both need to have means that they provide a valuable service on either platform and the service that they offer is well worth the investment, even if it is just having peace of mind.

It is also possible for a computer to run both Windows and Linux, however only one can run at a time. A hard disk can be partitioned to allow for both installations using special software and then one or the other can be installed. This is not something that should be done unless you know what you are doing but it can give you an easy way to introduce yourself to Linux and become familiar with it.

Both platforms runs the same languages and technologies and also can include Cloud-based services. When you purchase web hosting you are purchasing space on a server and it can work just as well on either platform.

Final Verdict

What is better? Both can work, and work well. Both offer specific advantages but both have their faults. If you are running an e-commerce website (or any website) that needs to be up and running as close to 100% of the time a Linux-based host would be best. If you are running a personal blog site a Windows-based host could work just as well. If you are planning on hosting the website yourself a Windows-based host could probably be best, especially if you have never used a Linux machine. Windows would also be best if you are utilizing Microsoft’s .Net framework.

At Nicely Done Hosting we use Linux servers for our web hosting. For most hosting companies this is standard practice, so for anyone that is looking at securing web hosting chances are you will be using Linux.

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