What is Windows Server Hosting?

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Windows server hosting is an increasingly popular choice for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As of the end of 2013, around one third of the top 10 million websites on the web run on a server that is powered by Windows. Traditionally, Linux has been the operating system of choice for webmasters, but Microsoft has made significant improvements to the Windows platform and it is now a viable choice for many business owners and webmasters.

Why Choose Windows Server Hosting?

Windows hosting is slightly more expensive than Linux hosting, because of the license fee that hosts must pay to run a Windows server. However, Windows hosting offers stability and security, ease of use, good uptime figures and good performance.

You can use Windows dedicated servers to power ASP or .NET websites associated with Access or MySQL databases, or to run Apache, MySQL and PHP or Perl if you wish.

Is Windows Server Hosting Worth It?

Windows server hosting can be a good choice for many businesses. If your intranet or web applications have been developed with Windows in mind then it makes sense to stick with Windows hosting.

It is hard to rate Windows vs Unix-like hosting for the
current generation of servers, because both offerings are high quality. Choose the hosting package that makes it easiest for you to work with the web development technologies you prefer.

Windows Server Pros and Cons

An advantage of Windows servers is that they are generally easier to maintain than Linux servers. This is because, unlike Windows, Linux is open source software and updates can be rather complicated.

 

Another key benefit of Windows hosting, other than the familiarity of the Windows platform and the support that you can get from Microsoft, is the quality of Microsoft certifications. Microsoft offers a range of certification programs that allow prospective employees to demonstrate that they have valuable, current skills in systems administration, support or development. These certifications are a good indicator of the skill level of job applicants, and can help business owners to find qualified employees even if they don’t have some in-house expertise to assist with interviews. Due to Microsoft’s extensive certifications you will be able to find someone to support your business internally with confidence that they are well versed in how Windows Servers run and how you can get the most from it.

The main downside of Windows servers is that they are more expensive than their Linux equivalents, and they will need upgraded every few years to stay up to date with Microsoft’s new releases and end-of-life cycles.

The Future of Windows Server Hosting

While Windows remains a popular choice for dedicated servers, the broader web industry is moving towards the cloud. With Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualisation platform, this is ensuring Windows is at the forefront of Cloud technology. In the future, it is likely that Windows hosting will follow a similar path to Unix-like systems, with cloud hosting and hybrid systems becoming increasingly commonplace.

3 Questions to Ask When Looking for Windows Server Hosting

If you are considering a Windows server (Cloud, Dedicated, VPS) or a shared server that runs Windows, be sure to find out the following:

1. What server technologies are supported on your installation?

Most Windows hosting is configured to support ASP, .NET, MSSQL and other windows-specific technologies. If you want to use PHP, MySQL or the Apache web server, make sure that the hosting will allow that.

2. Do you allow the installation of other server applications?

Many companies run instant messaging services, VOIP and other applications on their Windows servers. You usually need to have a dedicated server to do this, because a shared hosting account will not have administrator privileges.

3. What support and disaster recovery options do you offer?

A good web host will offer 24/7 support, and a reasonable uptime guarantee. Check that the service level agreement is adequate for your use-case, and pay particular attention to problem resolution times. Remember that your website is the first interaction that many consumers will have with your business, so it is imperative that it runs well and that downtimes are kept to an absolute minimum.

Factors to Consider

Windows hosting is typically more expensive than Linux hosting, but that does not mean that it is a bad choice. If you need support for any of the following services, then Windows hosting is the best choice for you:

• Microsoft SQL

• FrontPage Extensions (although Linux does have support for these)

• JMail

• MSXML

• MSADO

• ASP

• .Net

Windows hosting integrates well with Exchange server and with other Microsoft products. This may be an important part of the decision making process for you – especially if you want to host your company intranet or internal applications on the same server.

Is it Right for My Business?

 

Both Windows and Linux are good web server environments today. The environment that your web server runs does not have to match the environment that your business workstations run. Windows hosting is no more or less “compatible” than Linux hosting as far as your users are concerned, and in most cases the hosting environment should not matter for you as the administrator of your blog, CMS or online store installation.

From a security and a performance point of view, you have nothing to be concerned about with Windows today. In the past, Windows servers had a bad reputation, but Microsoft has made significant improvements over the last few releases of Windows Server, and the platform is now production-environment ready.

If your web developer or systems administrator recommends that you use Windows hosting because a particular language or server runs best under Windows, then you should listen to them. ASP, .NET, Access and MSSQL are all things that run best on Windows, for example. You should choose the environment that suits your use-case best, whether it is Windows or Linux.

If you would like to discuss how Windows server hosting could benefit your company, then contact CWCS Managed Hosting today on info@cwcs.co.uk or 0115 740 1234.

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