Windows or Linux hosting

  Sturmey 11:55 11 Nov 2004

I will be getting some web space for myself soon that I will use as personal web space for stock photographs and also I want to setup an on line shop in the future, I have a choice of going with windows (asp, .net) or Linux (php, mysql) hosting I don't know what to choose. I've dabbled in php and mysql and previously rented Linux web space.

  fourjays 12:32 11 Nov 2004

I have a Win server with php and mysql, and I must say that I prefer php to asp, .net, etc. There are many more php scripts available online for free, and it seems fairly easy to customise (colours, templates, etc - when css is not available).

But from my limited understanding, I belive that Linux is supposed to be better for running php and mysql as it is more stable. Don't quote me on that though. Im still learning alot about web creation.

Maybe someone else can confirm that.

  Sturmey 14:22 11 Nov 2004

Thanks fourjays, I didn't know you could use php and mysql on a windows server, in that case it may be better to go with windows hosting as then I would have the choice of php, asp, .net

  Taran 16:59 11 Nov 2004

Most Windows web host accounts do not feature PHP and MySQL, although to be fair, some do. It varies from host to host, but the whole point to Windows hosting is to leverage proper ASP, .NET, Access or MS SQL databases and lots of other nice things. If you don't need or want those features then you may be just as well with less expensive Linux hosting. Both PHP and MySQL are available at a far lower cost by selecting a dedicated UNIX/Linux host running Apache than by using them on a Windows IIS account.

A few PHP functions produce less than expected output when runnnig on Windows IIS, which could be another consideration.

Some web hosts offer web-store scripts, at a cost. The superb osCommerce click here is a serious option on Linux/Apache hosts for a fully blown e-commerce operation. It is basically an entire webshop in a box, and although some people find it visually limited there are more and more themes coming out all the time to control its appearance and as long as you establish a payment method (PayPal, merchant account or whatever) you can use it to set an entire shopping site up pretty easily and at very low cost.

You can get quite good web hosting for a small outlay these days, so why not try the less expensive option to begin with and if you find you would prefer to go with Windows IIS hosting at a later date you can always make that decision as and when the issue comes up.

There are loads of relevant points to consider for a small e-commerce operation, but either hosting platform is more than capable of anything you want to do - getting from A to B just requires some different steps on Windows to Linux, but the start and finish lines remain the same really.

Web-Mania click here and Web Attention click here both offer Apache hosting with PHP, MySQL and CGI support for next to nothing - £20 per year for Web-Mania. It may make sense to use a host like this for your site as it evolves until such time as you are ready to consider going into a fully fledged e-commerce system. The cost risk is so low you really don't stand to lose out and it makes a good playground to develop your site.

Good luck with it.


  fourjays 18:46 11 Nov 2004

click here is who I use. I have one of their free hosting accounts (almost - has a one time setup fee). They are fully featured accounts, including oscommerce and phpBB. I find them to be very good. I know they are in the USA, but they accept account holders from overseas.

When I was choosing my hosting account, I didn't know as much as I should, and assumed (stupidly) that you needed Linux for a Linux account, so I went with Win. Since then I have learnt alot more. lol

My advice is to look around at all the options available, and find one that is absolutely to your needs.

  Sturmey 19:33 11 Nov 2004

Thank you Taran, I have used oscommerce and agree it is very powerful, i had some trouble at first with the scripts and found it beyond my capabilities to customise the look of the shop so I lost interest, and decided to build the shop in HTML then add the dynamic stuff later I don't know if this would be possible with oscommerce.

I have been looking at webfusion click here they have windows and Linux hosting available, oddly the windows starter package is £5.95 per month and the Linux starter is £7.95 per month.

I downloaded the free version of Microsoft visual studio .net just to get a feel for asp, it felt more intuitive than php and I'm veering to wards the windows hosting. when I made a site in php I found myself using ready made scripts and not really understanding how they worked, when I tried to decipher the code it made no logical sense however I only scratched the surface of php and mysql.

  Sturmey 19:40 11 Nov 2004

fourjays: I had a look at click here it looks good and has everything I could need in a hosting account. Have you ever had to contact tech support interesting to know what it's like, thanks.

  Taran 20:56 11 Nov 2004

PHP is, to most people, often easier to learn than ASP and especially .NET.

I say this from my experience lecturing and listening to students.

And before anyone suggests its down to a preference on my part in what and how I teach, I'm also talking about students who are fresh on my courses and when I question them to get a feel of who knows what and the various stages of ability they are all at it has become obvious for some years now that PHP seems to have agreater appeal, perhaps due to the sheer availability of scripts, programs, free resources and the tools to program them in.

Ho hom.

Anyway, the point I am meandering slowly towards is that whatever you are most comfortable with, that's what you shiould stick to, assuming you can budget comfortably for the relevant hosting.

Windows hosting often appears less expensive than it is because most hosts do not include a database with their accounts. They include 'database support', but when you factor in the cost per database if you want or need a MS SQL database for commerce use, things can start doubling and tripling in price quite quickly. Some hosts charge hundreds per MS SQL database.

An Access database is fine for a relatively low traffic site, but if you start getting into larger numbers of concurrently logged in users it will all go wrong, hence my mention of MS SQL. Anything more than about 10 concurrent users will bomb Access out. By concurrent users I mean users logged or logging in at the same time, which is not the total number of users using the system.

If you prefer ASP it's a little pointless of me or anyone else to suggest that you go against the grain and learn or stick with PHP. I always find people do better at what they are most comfortable with.

Take a look at the excellent website for their ASP section: click here

There are ASP programs there for pretty much anything you might like to do, including commerce applications and image management tools.

1&1 offer an Access database with their £9-99 per month Business MS Hosting option, while their £19-99 per month Professional package features MS SQL as well as an Access database if you would prefer the extra power. You also get Microsoft FrontPage 2003 and lots of other bundled software, all of which adds up to a pretty good value for money excercise and about the best value Windows hosting I know of with som many features. Many other hosts will charge a couple of hundred per year for Windows hosting and about the same again (ish) for a database.

I love PHP and MySQL, as much for what they are, how they are made available and how effective they are as for any other reasons. If I had to make a choice I've said it before - I'd choose ASP/.NET for all of my web programming. I'm happy with either platform and sometimes I select one because I can deliver the required results more appropriately on one than on the other. One thing is certain, either is far more powerful and feature rich than you will ever need.


  blackheart 11:43 21 Nov 2004

I recommend click here I use them to host my website, along with mysql database and php scripts. I've had v. little down time and the support team are excellent. I found php very easy to learn, and have written a number of webapps myself. You can use php/mysql on a windows server as I use a program called WAMP from click here to run them on my desktop pc, along with Apache, as a test bed for my apps. Hope this helped.


  Sturmey 14:46 21 Nov 2004

Thanks for the reply, I agree about PHP being easier to learn than .NET or ASP, is excellent site, so many scripts and most are free :)

  fourjays 13:58 22 Nov 2004

Ive been busy lately. I have contacted tech support before. They have a live chat one, email, control panel one (which doesn't work though), and I think a phone number. Their tech support is fairly efficient. I wouldn't say it is the best, as sometimes you get the feeling that they are reading off a script (do any tech support people know how to help without a script?), but when Ive contacted them by email, they are very good.

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