Helping You Find a Home for Your Website
You've decided you want dedicated server hosting. Now on to the next step: picking whether you want Windows dedicated server hosting, or Linux hosting. And before you choose Windows because that's the only one you've heard of, you should know that your server type has nothing to do with whatever you're running on your home computer.
A Windows server, much like the Windows operating system, is proprietary. A Windows server works best, and is designed to function best, with other Microsoft brand-name software. If your sites run on the Microsoft-based FrontPage, ASP (Active Server Pages), .NET or MS SQL, then you'll need Windows hosting. None of those will work on Linux. However, even though you need Windows servers to run those tools, other tools will work on the server as well. The main drawback of using a Windows server is the extra cost, although most find the interface much easier to use than Linux. There may also be a longer delay in finding fixes to issues, since you're waiting on Microsoft to develop and release any patches.
Linux dedicated hosting is an open-source alternative to using Windows. Unlike Windows, the software isn't proprietary; without licensing charges, it's a lot mor e cost-effective to run. Linux has a great reputation for being stable, fast and long-lasting, plus any problems that come up (like security holes) can be patched pretty quickly, as anyone can contribute. Linux works for many popular languages and databases, including MySQL, PHP, and Perl, but you can't run ASP or MS SQL on Linux. If you're a newbie, Linux may be an intimidating environment to learn on your own. However, more experienced users will appreciate the greater number of customizations and flexibility that open-source offers.
Okay, So Which One?
As much as we'd love to solve the age-old question of Windows vs Linux, the truth is what works for one website might not work for another. Are you okay with lots of clicking and being dependent on Microsoft? Then Windows is a great choice. Do you want more customization options and feel grouchy about proprietary software? You'll be happier with Linux.
Some decisions, like building your site using Microsoft web development tools, don't leave any option except using Windows. Sites that need PHP or MySQL have to be hosted with Linux. Which is inherently better? Who knows. What we do know is that it's fun to toss two programmers in a room and watch them argue about it. Now that's something we can recommend.