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Q. Linux Hosting, Windows Hosting, Cold Fusion Hosting - Which One? And Why?

A. For those of you that are new to web hosting, the first thing that you need to know is what the "Hosting Environment" is and what it means to you in terms of developing your site.

The hosting environment is the underlying Operating System that the hosting server runs under.

The very first thing that you need to know is that this bears no relationship to what operating system(s) that you run on your own computer, or your skill level is with a particular OS.

In other words, you wouldn't say "I run windows at home, so I need windows hosting", any more than you would say "I know nothing about windows so I'd better choose Linux hosting because that is the OS that I know."

In a hosting situation, you will never really be exposed to the underlying OS, so what you do (or don't) know about a particular OS is irrelevant to your hosting choice.

Where the hosting environment does affect your choice is in the development tools that you (or your developer) wishes to use to create and operate your site.

At this point it is important to note that if you are having your site developed by a third party, you need to ask them what Hosting Environment they need. Many web developers produce sites using specific tools, so you must let them be your guide.

As a general guide:

If you or your developer are developing in ASP or .net, or you are going to be using Microsoft SQL, then you need Windows Hosting.

If you or your developer are developing your site in Macromedia Cold Fusion, then you need Cold Fusion Hosting.

(Incidentally, Cold Fusion runs under the Windows platform, but it is not compatible with ASP .net, which is why it has its own hosting environment).

If you are not using any of the above development tools, then Linux is the natural choice.

Why? There are many reasons, but they all stem from the fact that Linux is the most common hosting platform by a very large margin.

Due to this popularity there is a massive collection of 'free' or near free applications, tools and utilities that you can use to build and enhance your web site.

Generally prices for Linux hosting are cheaper than Windows or Cold Fusion. This is due to the popularity creating healthy competition between hosting companies.

You also have a far greater choice of hosting companies offering Linux than Windows or Cold Fusion. This gives you a far better chance of finding the features that you want at a price that you are prepared to pay.

So if you need ASP, .net, MS-SQL, choose a windows plan, if you need Cold Fusion, choose a Cold Fusion plan. If you don't need any of the above, choose a Linux Plan.
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