What operating system is best for your website?

One of the first things you will need to do in setting up your business on the Internet is to find a web host. The Web expands every day, and so do our choices. Just how do you find a web host to meet your business needs? There are literally tens of thousands, each one with a different focus and services designed for a specific segment of the market.

The operating system used by your hosting company may limit your flexibility as your company begins to grow. As you study your options, you might consider the following tips:

An operating system or “platform,” such as Microsoft’s Windows NT or DOS is the basic set of commands that tell your computer how to open applications and store files. In the early days of Internet activity, most servers operated on a UNIX platform, an extremely powerful and flexible system that requires considerable technical expertise to administrate. UNIX is still as popular as ever, but today you have a choice: Windows NT and UNIX variations such as Sun Microsystems Solaris, and Berkeley’s BSD.

Experts offer significantly different opinions as to which platform works best for web sites, we will however give a brief description and analysis of the different systems. In the end, the choice depends largely on your budget and what you want to do with your site.

Linux, a version of UNIX, is a very versatile platform that serves a number of functions well. It is particularly suitable for meeting your Internet requirements, such as mailing, streaming, Web serving, and fileserving. Linux is a very cost-effective choice it uses hardware efficiently, and allows for more web sites per server, thereby lowering the cost of hosting per account. Linux servers are compatible with certain Microsoft extensions and applications, for example, MS SQL (a database program) or Microsoft Front Page (a web authoring tool). Many engineers prefer the flexibility, security, and control of Linux servers. Linux is Open Source (free) software and a host of free programs are available to users of Linux.

Microsoft Windows NT/2000
Window’s 2000 graphical user interface makes it user-friendly and provides a familiar interface for most IT teams to work with. It integrates well with other Microsoft applications and there are a wealth of commercial applications available for this platform. Particularly attractive is the integration with Microsoft Application Server (ASP) which allows the creation of dynamic web pages linked to SQL databases, and other Legacy back office systems.

Sun Solaris
Sun Solaris servers offer the highest level of resources and power – these are the most robust servers! Sun has a proven track record and is deployed in many large Fortune 500 corporations. It is a mature platform and there are a large number of applications and development tools available. Because of Sun’s capacity and stability it is ideal for high-traffic functions, such as database servers, high-traffic Web servers and mission-critical servers.

Cobalt RaQ
The RaQ was designed for virtual (shared) hosting of multiple Web sites. It’s simple administration makes it a great first Web server. Its flexible administration interface also allows you to share administration responsibilities among your staff.

FreeBSD is a version of BSD that was designed for the X86 processor. FreeBSD is a very stable open source operating system, and a good alternative to Linux. It is an extremely well-integrated and tested system, and is inexpensive. There are a large number of free applications available for use with it

How do I choose? As your site grows in size and complexity, in all likelihood your needs will change and the capability and scalability of a particular platform will come into question. It’s best to anticipate this contingency and choose a web host that offers a variety of operating systems which are scalable and backs them up with technical expertise.

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