In the great debate between Windows vs. Linux web hosting, which one comes out on top? Is there actually a Mac/Apple web hosting package? These are two of the biggest questions web hosts hear—especially from newbie web host users. If you’re just starting to check out the thousands of web hosts out there, you’ve been bombarded with a plethora of hosting packages. You may have stumbled across web hosts pushing Linux packages, while others are all about Windows and still more are encouraging clients to use FreeBSD. What does it all mean, and is one better than the other? Do you “need” to choose one based on the system you use? There’s no doubt that the entire hosting realm is confusing, and sometimes needlessly so for those outside the industry.
Let’s start with the basics: It doesn’t matter what operating system (OS) you’re using on your computer right now. You can choose whatever hosting package you want, whether you manage your website from a Mac computer or you just sprung to have the latest Windows version installed in your PC. Your web host doesn’t have to align with your platform—period. The two items are completely separate, and “matching” them isn’t going to make things more or less compatible. When it comes down to it, you aren’t running anything located on your computer on your web host’s system (or vice versa). Anything that’s running on your web host’s system has been custom designed to operate on websites—which means you’re not going to be running them on your actual home/work computer.
There are some customers who think because they’re used to Windows, Mac or another system, it might be easier to use one of those OSs as a web hosting account. Again, this has nothing to do with anything. Your host’s computer, regardless of which OS they use, isn’t going to pop up on your computer with a familiar setting. The only way you’ll be able to access your website is with a “web editor” such as Dreamweaver, FTP program, etc. or via a website platform like WordPress. Your user interface (Dreamweaver, etc.) is going to be the same no matter what OS your host uses. There are, of course, varying levels of difficulties with each web editor, which is why you should spend some time choosing that item wisely.
So, what should you be using to choose a web hosting platform, then? Start by deciding between .NET or ASP, or Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server. You need to know if your website needs Windows-only tech such as these options. Your computer itself doesn’t need that technology—but if your website has to execute one of these options (ASP, Microsoft SQL Server, etc.), it’s a lot easier if your web hosting package is Windows. Technically, you can do so via Unix systems, but it’s just simpler if you have Windows web hosting.
When Web Hosting Really Counts
If you simply want to create an easy website, blog or the like, it’s usually best to go with Unix-based hosting. There’s a lot of jargon to consider (like the above example), but that’s really only relevant if you’re building a complicated website. For the average website builder, Unix is fantastic. However, if you need Perl, MySQL, PHP, special blogging software, etc. (you’ll already know if you do), it may be easier to go with FreeBSD or Linux based hosting packages. Some of these items may run well on other systems, but may require special modifications. If you’re not sure, don’t worry. You’ll already know if you have “special requests.”
Finally, the big question: Is there Mac web hosting? No. They may pop up in the future, but the odds of those hypothetical web hosting packages being necessary are slim to none. The vast majority of website builders/managers don’t need to worry about all this tech jargon. If the web host you’re considering isn’t mentioning it, that’s a good thing. The process is and should be easier than you think.