A Virtual Private Server is an optimal choice between a shared hosting service and a dedicated infrastructure. When selecting the right server for you, you’ll need to pick between a Linux and Windows VPS. What’s the difference between the two setups? And which one is a better choice for your website? Before we jump right into it, let’s think about why you should choose a VPS in the first place.
Why a VPS? The Benefits
By many, a virtual private server is considered a sweet spot between other hosting solutions. This is because it usually (if you choose a quality provider) comes at a very good performance to price ratio, which makes it affordable even for beginners. But there is a lot more to it:
High control over the resources – unlike a shared hosting, a VPS comes with resources assigned exclusively to your server instance. And the resources themselves come at much more affordable rates compared to a dedicated server.
Ease of scalability – it’s very easy to upgrade your server from the basic plan all the way to a plan that could accommodate hundreds or even thousands of daily visitors.
Root/administrative access – you are the boss. Choose the operating system and keep full control over the server setup.
Privacy & customization – install any applications you deem necessary. Use whichever website builder, mailing system or content management system (not to mention hundreds of other apps) you think are the best for your business.
Both Windows and Linux VPS come with the same set of core benefits. But there are differences in what they allow you to do and why you should choose either of them.
Difference #1: Performance
The first thing that distinguishes both types of servers, and which is not that commonly known, especially by beginners, is the difference in performance. Because a Windows setup is more resource-hungry, a Linux-based VPS will be much faster than a Windows one.
This is true especially when it comes to handling high load (for example, from multiple visitors) and many different processes running at once. Moreover, unless your traffic grows or you deploy new applications to the server, the performance of a Linux VPS should stay unchanged. Sadly, a Windows VPS will become slower regardless of traffic or application changes – if you have ever run a Windows laptop or desktop, you’ve probably seen that happen.
Difference #2: Pricing
If your main concern is the cost of the new hosting, you can’t go wrong with a Linux-based VPS. Because its hardware requirements are usually lower and the fact that there are usually no licensing fees, a typical Linux package will be more affordable compared to a Windows one with similar specifications.
And, if you were to expand your Windows VPS, as you add more and more advanced features and software, the difference will become much more substantial, driving your costs even higher. Because of that, Windows virtual private servers are a much better choice for specialized jobs and projects that require Windows applications
Difference #3: Security
Another issue differentiating the two types of servers is their security. While neither is fully secure, especially if you choose a VPS with full root/administrator access and someone else gains access to your user credentials, there is a difference between the security of particular applications available on each system.
Typically, because Linux is open-source, some people believe that there are more potential vulnerabilities in the code of some of its apps. On the other hand, because there are so many people who work on making it a better environment, it’s easier for them to find those vulnerabilities and patch them before they will be used to harm your server. Despite that “global Linux security team”, and the fact that many experts agree that Linux is more secure, Windows remains much more popular, especially among enterprise-grade customers.
Difference #4: Flexibility
Generally, because Linux is much more decentralized and many of its applications and distributions are open-source, a Linux VPS gives you a lot more freedom. Depending on your goals, you can choose between CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and a few other Linux distributions – each of which gives you a slightly different edge, be it quicker release cycles, enterprise-grade stability, or access to the latest software. Whereas Windows offers you just the different versions of Windows Server, Azure, and Windows Datacenter.
Sadly, despite the great freedom offered by the Linux environment, not all hosting providers provide access to all the main OS distributions. A great example of one that that does that is Hostinger – you can check all their available operating systems here: hostinger.com/host-vps/
Difference #5: Available Applications
The variety of the available operating systems will cause more substantial differences in almost every aspect of the server – from available virtualization platforms to programming languages and database frameworks. For example, the most popular application development frameworks on Windows will be ASP.NET and Visual Basic while Linux servers are commonly using PHP, Python, and Ruby on Rails.
Of course, many of the languages can be used interchangeably. But the same isn’t always true for database frameworks, with Windows utilizing MS SQL, Microsoft SQL Server or Azure SQL and Linux MySQL, PostgreSQL or MariaDB (just to name a few for each – naturally, there are many more of them).
Difference #6: Stability
If you own a Windows laptop or desktop, I’m sure you know how annoying it is to have to restart your computer after every minor update – not to mention that the system itself is not the most stable one either. Unfortunately, the same is true for the server environment.
The beauty of a Linux VPS is that it can keep a 100% uptime, even with all the driver updates and patches, as those don’t require any reboot at all. Contrary to that, you have to reboot your Windows VPS after every minor update – not to mention that the risk of your server crashing is much higher.
Knowing all the primary differences, let’s look into the different reasons why companies use either of the systems for their servers.
The Use Goals – Why Both Servers Can Be Cool
As you can see, Linux outperformed Windows in almost every category. Despite that, Windows servers are still highly popular. This is because the system from Microsoft remains an industry standard for many high-grade and demanding enterprises which are not fully ready to move over to a Linux environment. Moreover, some of those enterprises have been using Windows for their IT infrastructure for years, long before cloud and virtualization became popular.
Naturally, there is more to it than that. Many small and medium enterprises also use Windows server environment, mainly to run standard applications which you could find on a desktop computer – but they do that in the cloud. Which is yet another reason why you could choose a Windows VPS for business or personal projects.
But, if all you need is a reliable and fast environment for your web properties, a Linux VPS is a no-brainer. Especially that many of its frameworks are prepared specifically for hosting websites, what makes offering your website visitors high-quality user experience much, much easier. Plus, the cost of a quality Linux VPS starts at just a few dollars per month. So, if you are thinking about migrating or starting an online business – a Linux VPS is the way to go!