To begin, every website is hosted on only 3 platforms:
Unix Windows NT Macintosh
Very few sites are hosted on a MAC server, so the majority of webhosts use Unix or NT. For these reasons we will focus on only those 2 platforms.
Unix and NT both offer various options and have different abilities. Your choice of which platform to use depends on what applications you want your site to run and the amount of control you want to have over your site.
Unix is the oldest and one of the most widely used operating systems for hosting. It is the basis of the internet and most webservers originally ran on a version of Unix. Unix is know as a multitasking operating system which means that it can run many applications at the same time without them affecting each other. This is very important when you consider that hundreds of websites, running thousands of CGI scripts, all receiving thousands of hits could be running on one webserver.
Why Use It?:
- It's reliable Ability to host many websites on the same machine. Almost all CGI scripts run better on Unix. Programming flexibility. Much more administrative control.
- With Unix, webmasters can really tweak their websites (assuming they know what they are doing) to run at optimal levels.
- Developers can run CGI scripts and create applications specific to their needs.
- Is case sensitive.
- It is not an easy operating system to learn.
- Must use telnet or Ftp to make changes. That's why we do all the work for you.
NT is a relative newcomer to the webhosting game but it is fast gaining a large share of the business. NT was built to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft's web authoring tool, Frontpage. As such, it is often the perfect solution for newcomers who do not want to learn HTML or CGI programming or deal with the day to day hassles of administering a webserver.
Can use Microsoft Frontpage to publish your website as opposed to using Ftp or telnet. Can use Cold Fusion. Somewhat easier to administer (especially for the average webmaster). Is not case sensitive.
If you do not plan on learning the in's and out's of the web and administering your site, NT is probably your tool of choice. But with todays Unix/Linux Frontpage can also publish your website. You can use all the Frontpage extentions.
Provides poorer security than Unix. Because of the security issues, the hosting provider will usually institute tighter security measures. Cannot run all CGI scripts as well although this is changing. Many great things just can't be done right as most programers are making scripts to run on the Unix Machines
Your needs as the webmaster and your visitors needs will determine the type of webhost and the platform you need.