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What is the Difference Between Linux and Windows Hosting?

When working with hosting accounts, it’s important to remember several different types of operating systems that you can use with your server. The two most common operating systems available to HostGator are Linux and Windows.

Linux and Windows are two different types of operating systems. Linux is the most popular operating system for web servers. Since Linux-based hosting is more popular, it has more of the features web designers expect.  So unless you have websites that need specific Windows applications, Linux is the preferred choice.

In this article, we will break down the essential differences between these two operating systems and cover some specifications about each. To learn more about the different types of hosting packages that HostGator offers, check out this article, Hosting Price Chart.


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Windows-Specific ApplicationsWindows Hosting

Although a common operating system for web development, the Windows operating system is not commonly needed for most average hosting users. Generally speaking, Windows OS users have specific requirements for doing so. In most cases, especially in the shared hosting environment, you will be just fine using the Linux OS.

Since most Windows users know that they need one, we won't go too deep into why; however, below is a list of applications that require you to have a Windows server. If you are not running one of the applications below, you should be okay using a Linux OS.

Windows applications that require a Windows server:

  • ASP Classic
  • ASP.NET
  • MSSQL (Microsoft SQL Server)
  • MS Access (Microsoft Access)
  • Visual Basic Development
  • C#
  • Remote Desktop (dedicated server only)

Windows Dedicated Servers can support additional Windows-specific applications. You may need to purchase a license for some applications and install the software on your Windows dedicated server.

  • Microsoft Exchange (requires license & Installation)
  • Microsoft SharePoint (requires license & Installation)
Software not included with the server is not supported by our technical support staff since HostGator would not know how your server and applications are set up.

Linux-Specific ApplicationsLinux Hosting

While being a free and open-source platform, Linux has remained an industry standard and is the most commonly used operating system today. It is the most popular operating system of choice for web servers and has more of the features that professional web designers expect.

There isn't much you can’t do on a Linux server; in fact, as a novice user, you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to use one. That being said, below are a few specific applications that require Linux OS.

Applications that require a Linux-based server:

  • SSH
  • Scripts or applications that require specific Apache modules

Control Panels

Windows hosting and Linux hosting use different control panels.

  • cPanel is available on Linux-based hosting plans, such as Linux Shared, Reseller, VPS, and Linux Dedicated Servers. This control panel is widely considered to be an industry standard. For more information on this control panel, check this article, How to Log into cPanel.

    HostGator Control Panel

  • WHM (Web Host Manager) is available on Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated Hosting.

    HostGator WHM

  • Plesk is available on Windows Hosting and Dedicated Hosting.

    Windows - Plesk


File Names

Another difference between Linux and Windows servers is that Linux files are case sensitive while Windows files are not.

For example:
  • On a Linux server, home.html and Home.html are different names.
  • On a Windows server, home.html, Home.html, and HOME.HTML are all the same names.

Server Security

Although many people consider Linux to be more secure than Windows, both operating systems are equally secure. Security really depends more upon the server setup and the administrators running the server. All of HostGator's managed servers are maintained with the latest security and performance patches and configured for optimal security.


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When Should You Purchase a Linux or Windows Hosting Package?

HostGator supports both Linux and Windows operating systems on selected server types. The choice of operating system to use all comes down to the technology you wish to use with your server. The most common factors being considered here are software and user-interface requirements. If you wish to use specific applications like MSSQL or ASP.net and are more comfortable using Plesk, then the Windows-supporting hosting servers should be your choice. However, if you prefer using cPanel instead of Plesk and MySQL and PHP, considering they are the only applications you need, Linux is most suitable.

The other factors taken into account are stability, security, ease of use, technical knowledge and support, and cost, all of which are important to business users.

Does HostGator Offer Windows Hosting?

Yes, HostGator offers Windows on our Shared and Dedicated hosting packages.

Can I Transfer My Sites From a Linux Server to Windows Server? And Vice Versa?

As long as the websites to be transferred over are compatible with the destination server’s platform, we can definitely assist you with the migration of your websites. To request a migration, please fill out our migration form through your Customer Portal.

If I Am Using a PC running on Windows, Do I Also Have to Use Windows Hosting with HostGator?

You do not necessarily have to get a Windows hosting package if you are currently using Windows on your computer. Your personal computer’s operating system has nothing to do with your hosting server’s operating system.