Linux, an open-source operating system, is the most popular OS among Web hosting providers. Open source means the source code can be used, modified and redistributed freely in both commercial and non-commercial capacities. Web hosting providers prefer this to the more restrictive Windows platform because it allows greater customization in server capabilities and user options.
Few hosting services offer Windows-based hosting, and those who do charge a higher monthly fee than Linux-based hosting. Historically, Windows has struggled as a hosting platform in terms of stability, but recent iterations of the product place it on a similar playing field as Linux.
Windows vs. Linux hosting
Comparing things like performance, stability, security and ease of use won’t create any clear indication of which platform is better. The real reason many Web administrators pick Linux as a Web hosting platform is based on the type of files and functionalities they expect to use. If a website uses ASP, .NET, Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server files, then Web hosting will need to be based on the Windows platform.
All other file types, from PHP to Perl to Wordpress to MySQL run much more easily on a Linux-based web host. These files still run on a Windows web host, but the Linux platform is designed to work specifically with these data types.
Both platforms still use HTML files and read them in the same way, which means most standard websites will work without any difference in performance. The only difference in using Linux versus Windows is several file types, but when it comes to price Linux is the most popular option among web hosting providers.
Anyway, users don't typically have the option of choosing their Web hosting provider's operating system. In most cases, that choice is made for them, and it is a Linux-based hosting package. However, in some instances consumers find Web hosting providers that offer a Windows-based platform, which prompts the question, “Which is better?”
The difference between the two ultimately comes down to the capabilities offered to users. Picking one over the other is not a matter of compatibility or ease of use. Some users have an unnecessary fear that using a system on their home computer different from that of their Web host will result in compatibility issues and render the website unusable. In truth, nothing from the Web hosting system will be required to run on your computer, and is true no matter the system being used. Features that run on a Linux website must be specially crafted to run on it and will not be the same applications that run on a home computer, so users don’t need to already be using Linux.
If you’ve traditionally been a Windows user and think it’ll be easier to get a Window Web hosting account, this is an incorrect belief as well. A Web hosting account running on Windows doesn’t mean you’ll see a “Start” menu button or desktop icons. A web hosting server doesn’t look anything like that even if it does run Windows. The user interface on a Linux hosting account will be the same as a Windows account.