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VPS Hosting Guide: How to Choose the Right Operating System

Take a look at the difference between Windows and Linux VPSs. Read what works best where and what strengths each one offers.

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Download the Essential Cloud Buyer’s Guide to learn important factors to consider before selecting a provider as well as buying criteria to help you make the best decision for your infrastructure needs, brought to you in partnership with Internap.

Choosing the operating system for your VPS has nowadays become more complicated than it was a few years ago. While Windows has been simply iterating through versions, there are a lot more distributions of Linux available for your virtual private server.

Parameters such as CPU, memory, IO, etc. have been blurring of late due to advances — particularly in the Windows operating system. Let's examine the pros and cons of each and leave you with some recommendations.

Windows VPS Hosting

Performance: Between the two OSs, Linux is definitely more efficient with CPU, memory, and IO usage than Windows in almost all accounts. Windows servers' performance improves at higher processing power and memory levels, however, but all that comes at a significant cost compared to Linux.

Application support: Popular scripting languages such as ASP, ASP.NET, C# work only on Windows server. Therefore, Windows VPS is the ideal option for those who run applications built using these languages. Windows servers are also better suited to work with database software such as MS Access and MS SQL.

Interestingly, Windows servers also support other scripting languages, such as Python, PHP, Perl, and Ruby, which are primarily built for Linux.

Control panel choices: Parallels Plesk Panel is the best-known Windows control panel software, and it's never stopped amazing us. In its recent iteration, it has completed a major overhaul of its GUI and added tons of much-needed functionality. It remains a favorite among all Windows users.

Security: Windows servers need a regularly updated anti-virus not just for the sites it hosts, but to secure itself against viruses, malware, Trojans, and worms as well. Viruses are still mostly written for Windows, so system administrators need to be extra careful when running a Windows operating system.

Cost: Windows software require expensive licenses depending on the different flavors of OS, as well as depending on the number of cores in the server CPU.

Linux VPS Hosting

Performance: Linux has the smallest footprint on server performance. It requires very few system resources to run various services and software. It is ideally suited for processing high workloads at minimal system requirements.

Application support: A vast range of software languages, such as C++, Python, PHP, Perl, Java, and more, natively work best with Linux. More developers prefer writing software applications for Linux over Windows, and this has led to a surge of Linux applications over Windows in the web-hosting industry.

Security: Linux comes better configured for security out of the box than Windows servers. While both VPSs can be secured, Linux seems to have an upper hand, as it has a huge community following that helps identify and patch issues before they can become major problems.

Control panel choices: Over the years, cPanel has emerged as the favorite Linux VPS software for most hosting companies due to its ease of management and user experience. There are several more choices available for Linux VPS in commercial and free licensing options. These include Aegir, ISPConfig, Virtualmin, Webmin, etc..

Cost: Unlike Windows, most Linux distributions are free and open source.

So Should You Run Windows or Linux VPS Hosting?

Windows VPS is geared toward two types of users — those who are already using Windows in other deployments and are more comfortable in Windows environment as well as those types of users who have to run Windows-specific applications and software.

Linux VPSs are particularly meant for low resource usage servers and for keeping maximum system resources available to the applications that you host other than the operating system itself.

The Cloud Zone is brought to you in partnership with Internap. Read Bare-Metal Cloud 101 to learn about bare-metal cloud and how it has emerged as a way to complement virtualized services.

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