Best Server Operating Systems – Linux and Windows Compared

Best Server Operating Systems – Linux and Windows Compared


When it comes to running a server, your choice of operating system (OS) will be between Windows and Linux. While you might naturally favour Windows because you are familiar with it on PCs, it is far more important to base your decision on the needs of your website and other applications, your technical know-how and your budget. Here we examine Linux and Windows operating systems in more detail so that you can make an informed choice.

Windows Server OS

Microsoft operating systems have universal appeal and for good reason, they are highly functional programs that are regularly updated and patched, and which come with top-drawer support. That said, the software is proprietary, so unlike Linux, which is open source, you’ll need to pay for the software licence. This will either be in addition to your hosting or, if included in the price, the hosting will be more expensive as a result. That said, some web hosts have licencing agreements with Microsoft which enable them to provide it cheaper than licencing direct.

Although price can be an issue for some companies, Windows Server is a complete out-of-the-box solution that can be set up relatively easily. As you’d expect from Microsoft, it has a very user-friendly and intuitive interface, has remote access and doesn’t require command-line programming.

Windows Server is also ideal for companies that have a Microsoft-based working environment as it is designed to be completely compatible with all Microsoft’s other applications, like Office 365 and Microsoft SQL databases. In fact, if you use Microsoft SQL, you won’t be able to use a Linux server unless you buy Windows Server first to make use of the Windows emulator. 

For companies that need to use the ASP and ASP.NET scripting frameworks, Windows is the only choice as these cannot run on Linux operating systems as the software is unable to process their scripts before the pages load.

Linux OS

As an open-source operating system, Linux is free to use, which makes it a more cost-effective solution compared to Windows. Linux hosting plans are also less expensive than their equivalent Windows versions. Its open-source development also means it is available in different, commercially backed versions, giving you greater overall choice. These include distributions like Ubuntu, Red Hat and CentOS.

Just as Windows is designed to work with Microsoft applications, Linux has been developed to be compatible with other open-source apps, including cloud applications, an asset that can significantly reduce IT spending for a business. What’s more, companies are also at liberty to make programming changes to the Linux software, adding new functions or features that enhance its capabilities.

Another advantage is that Linux can run Microsoft apps (sometimes with the help of the Windows emulator) while the opposite is not guaranteed. For businesses using both open source and Windows programs, therefore, Linux offers improved overall compatibility.

One other important difference is performance. Linux applications tend to require fewer CPU and RAM resources, putting the server under less strain when carrying out like-for-like workloads compared to Windows-based applications. Linux also needs to be rebooted less often, so offers greater uptime.

Wider considerations

One reason some businesses choose Windows over Linux is that it is easier to install and manage. While this might be beneficial to those with on-site servers who want server admin to be quick and technically easy, it makes no difference for those with managed hosting. At Webhosting UK, for example, our managed servers come with server admin included. So, whether you choose Windows or Linux, OS installation, updating and patching are carried out on your behalf.

Finally, you should also consider technical support. As a proprietary software, Windows Server OS comes with Microsoft support as part of the package. Linux, unfortunately, doesn’t. If you are running a server on-site, this can be a deciding factor, especially if you lack in-house technical expertise. However, if you have a hosted server, you may get support from your vendor. With Webhosting UK, you get 24/7 technical support whether you are a Linux or Windows customer, ensuring that if you have an issue with your operating system, an expert will be on hand to help you fix it no matter when you call. All of this is included in the price of your hosting plan, too, so you won’t need to pay extra for it.


Linux and Windows Server operating systems are both powerful solutions. However, which one you choose depends on your needs. You will need to consider whether you are running the server on-site or having it hosted; the apps you need to run now and the ones you are likely to run later on; the costs of using proprietary software over open-source software, and the technical expertise you have within the company. Webhosting UK offers both Linux and Windows solutions for shared hosting, VPS, cloud and dedicated servers. For more information, visit our homepage.


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