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Most web sites are hosted on Unix servers. If you want to use a SQL or Access database, ASP (Active Server Pages), or ASP.NET you will need to use Windows Web Hosting. If you do not know specifically if you need a Windows server, chances are you will be fine using a Unix server. Unix web hosting generally cost less than Windows hosting and usually has more features available. The biggest reason to go with a Windows hosting plan is if you are using a specific database or scripting language that require a Windows hosting environment. You should choose the platform which will fit your website needs.
Unix is the most widely used operating system for Internet servers. It is reliable and stable. It has secure systems less vulnerable to attack and has proven dependable. You need technical expertise to run a Unix server. Because it is open-source there are many free server applications available and Unix handles high traffic more efficiently. Windows server software is more expensive than other platforms. The OS is more vulnerable to security breaches and hackers and is less portable. However Windows server management is easier to learn and someone with little experience can use advance features quickly. Linux is becoming more popular because of the free open source. It also supports PHP and MySQL. It is Unix-like and provides greater stability, performance and reliability than Windows. As Unix, it also requires technical skill for server configuration and maintenance and software is not as widely available as with Windows.
MySQL is an open source relational database management system. It is used for many websites and can run on Unix, Windows and Mac operating systems. The MySQL database server is very popular and is not as expensive as other systems. Having a database driven web site is beneficial because you can have dynamic web pages and better organization. More companies are choosing to have database-driven web sites because it allows them to customize their customer's experience on the Internet. MySQL is flexible, fast and easy to customize which is another reason for its popularity. Most web hosting companies will offer MySQL web hosting, but you should make sure the plan you select includes MySQL support.
Generally Unix web hosting plans are less expensive than Windows web hosting plans. If you want to have your own server, purchase the software and equipment to host your site the Unix/Linux system will be less expensive than a Windows system. However, if you choose to find a web host there are some very competitive price ranges available. Because prices vary between web hosting providers so you may find a Windows package with one host that is less expensive than a Unix package on another host. You should also consider the costs of database software. If you want to use mySQL you will need a Unix server but if you prefer MS SQL Server or Access you will have to go with a Windows server.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|