How to select a web host that fits your needs

Taking care to select an excellent web host is one of the most important things that you can ever do for your online business. You need compatibility, functionality, and ease of use on every level and in every step, during the set up and use of your web hosting.

That’s why it’s important to know the server platform that your website will be hosted on. Different web hosts use different platforms and finding the best one for your needs is a big step in choosing a great web host. Here we will look at the most common platforms to help you make sure that you’re getting the best performance possible for your web site.

The three major server platforms are Unix, Windows NT and Macintosh. Although, Macintosh is not often used anymore and most of the better web hosts now use either Unix or Windows NT.

Let’s briefly discuss the differences between Unix and Windows NT to help you determine which might be a better fit for you.

The original and most popular web hosting platform is Unix. It’s the backbone of the internet, even to this day. In spite of being around for a long time, it’s still one of the best server platforms for multitasking. Web hosting companies expect one Unix server to be able to run thousands of web sites and scripts with little problems, and Unix does this every single day with ease.

As you can see, one of the main reasons to use a Unix server is because it’s very reliable. It’s also an open source, customizable and free platform. One Unix machine can run hundreds of websites, and in addition, almost every CGI script available runs smoother on a Unix server. Programmers especially like Unix because it allows them to add their own personal touch to the websites that they run. You also have access to a wealth of administrative capabilities with a Unix server. If you’re a webmaster or developer that likes to be able to perform a lot of customization, you’ll find it with a Unix server.

Unix is full of benefits, but it is not for the beginner. It’s fairly complicated and the programming language is case sensitive which can make its use tricky. Needless to say, Unix can take a while to learn and even longer to master. Also, any changes that you want to make to your site will need to be done with either Telnet or FTP.
Even though Windows NT is the new kid on the block, it’s quickly grabbing up a large share of the web hosting business. Users like it because it works easily with Microsoft’s own FrontPage web publishing program. It’s a great platform for new webmasters who don’t want the hassle of working with a lot of HTML or CGI scripts. It also makes the day to day operation of web sites a lot easier than in the past. Windows NT also works well with other programming languages like Cold Fusion and it’s not case sensitive. This makes the daily operation of a website much easier for a new webmaster.

Windows NT does have some disadvantages though. Its security isn’t as good as the security you have with Unix. It also doesn’t run CGI scripts as easily. In fact, it can’t run all CGI scripts, but this is already beginning to be improved upon.

These two server platforms are your most popular options and what you will most often find being used by web hosts. When selecting a platform, remember what your needs are and choose accordingly. Be sure to also consider other issues like uptime, bandwidth usage, server space, CGI access, and MySQL support when deciding on a new web host. These are all critical elements and you’ll be glad that you spent the time researching what’s best for your online needs.

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