Windows vs Linux: Which Is Better For a Server

Hello again! So in the last post we left off with a review of the hardware of a server. Granted that it is very important to choose the correct hardware for your server as using under-powered or overpowered hardware will result in either your server crashing or the server being underutilized. But it is all the more important to use the correct Operating System on your server based on your needs. The two major contenders are obviously Windows server and Linux Server with further distributions in Linux and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the advantages of both of these.

Pros and Cons of Windows

Windows is a name which our generation has grown up listening to day in and day out. It has literally become a household name these days. Windows like we all know is developed by Microsoft. Unlike Linux, Windows is much easier to use and maintain. More than 90% of the people already use Windows on their personal laptops. Chances are that a person hasn’t even heard of Linux but uses Windows in their day to day lives. That’s why people are more comfortable with the interface of Windows than that of Linux. If you are a Windows user on your personal laptop or computer, you can easily set up a Windows Server in your Web Server with minimal learning effort. The Installation process of Windows is also much easier and well defined than Linux. You do not have to be an expert in Coding or anything like that in order to Set up Windows. It’s just that easy!

The Support for Windows Server is also much more extensive and organized than that of Linux. Since windows are developed by Microsoft, there is a proper support system in place for any and every queries, bugs problems etc. that occur with Windows Server.

Another factor which plays in favor of Windows Server is the large number of softwares supported by Windows. Nearly every software ever made since the history of Softwares will have a version for Windows when it might not have any kind of support for Linux or Mac OS X. So, you can be rest assured that you will never have software compatibility issues if you’re going with Windows Server. The same cannot be said for Linux unfortunately. Although, Linux tries to minimize the compatibility issue with Wine, compatibility layer software which sits on top of Linux and allows the users to run Windows Applications, the experience is still nowhere near the same as running the same software in a Windows environment.

Also, Linux does not have a very good support for .NET Framework and .ASP so if you are working with Technologies that include .NET and .ASP then you’ll probably have a easier time running those applications and websites on a Windows Server rather than on Linux.

There are obvious downsides to using a Windows Server as well. The first and foremost being that Windows is not free! The license for a copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 can cost upwards of $1000. It might sound a bit silly to consider this as a downside as softwares are usually paid but considering the fact that the Software which competing with Windows Server is absolutely free, this is a major downside of Windows Server.

Since, Windows Server is a proprietary Software, its source code is not available online. Hence, you are stuck with the features that have already been provided. It is not very flexible in that regard.

I could keep going on and on About Windows but I think we should switch to Linux now.

Pros and Cons of Linux Server

As mentioned before, Windows Server is developed by Microsoft. Linux on the other hand is developed by the Open Source Community! Yes! There is no actual company behind Linux but rather it is the entire Open Source community who over time have contributed to Linux and made it what it is today. A free and Open Source Operating System. Unlike Windows, there are a lot of Distributions of Linux. These distributions all have the same fundamental features of the Linux Kernel but have added functions or tuned themselves for specific purposes. For example, Ubuntu is used for general use, open SUSE is used for Servers and then there is centOS which is again very popular with Web Hosts and small businesses.

This brings us to the flexibility of Linux. Since the source code is available online and you can easily tinker around with the source code, you can have any feature or any package installed or added to your Linux Distro (short for distribution)in no time. This makes Linux much more flexible and stable than Windows Server as any issues which are pointed out by the members are quickly resolved by the Open Source Community and the users do not have to wait for monthly updates or patches from a company before their issues can be resolved or patched. This is the reason why Linux is much more stable and does not crash as often as Windows Server. If you have access to the code and you know how to fix it, then you can fix it yourself rather than being on call with tech support all day and wait for your issue to be resolved. Another aspect where Linux is very strong is Security. It is very hard to breach Linux if you know how to secure it properly.

However the downside to having Linux as your server especially since you’re new to Linux is that you’ll need a lot of time in getting used to Linux and its Environment. Installing Linux and setting it up is very hard and while using Linux as a Server, you will be doing most of your work in the terminal which again requires a lot of learning if you need to get something fruitful out of your server. The flexibility of Linux can only be harnessed only if you know how to harness it. Setting up, playing around and fixing Linux is only possible only when you know what you’re doing. That is why Windows is preferable if you don’t want to waste your time in managing Linux.

That was all I could say on the subject. I’ll meet you all next time. Good bye till then!

Update: Another interesting article on the subject: PostgreSQL : Linux VS Windows