Which operating system is better for a virtual server - Windows or Linux

Which operating system is better for a virtual server - Windows or Linux

Autor: HostZealot Team
2 min.

The choice of operating system for the virtual server determines how stable it will work, what tools the administrator will have, whether you have to pay to use the OS, etc. In the left corner - free Linux, represented by dozens of different distributions, and in the right - paid Windows Server, which is objectively much easier to use due to the presence of an elaborate GUI. But this is not all of their features, and further on in the article we will tell you which operating system for VPS is better and why.

Windows Server OS

A series of Microsoft operating systems designed specifically to support servers. Bill Gates' company has been developing in this direction since 1993, so at the moment the line of server operating systems includes more than a dozen titles, but only a few are considered relevant.

Windows Server 2008

The operating system codenamed "Longhorn Server" - as the name implies, it was released in 2008 to replace Windows Server 2003. Despite its respectable age is still in use on some servers. Everyone has his reasons, but most administrators choose it because of stability and reliability.

It is recommended to install it only to experienced administrators who know how to properly configure security, because since 2020, this operating system is no longer supported, and no updates it has long been receiving. On the one hand this leads to stability and fault tolerance, but on the other hand - some holes in security you need to know how to correctly fix. Generally speaking, thanks to the network access protection technology, the system allows you to isolate computers that do not meet the requirements of current security policies. Forcing compliance with security requirements is a powerful tool to protect your network.

The main advantages of Windows Server 2008 for VPS:

  • very modest system requirements by today's standards;
  • built-in technologies for virtualization on one VPS of several operating systems at once;
  • well-developed and lively community, which is always ready to help in case of difficulties;
  • provides secure access to internal applications via firewall-compatible ports;
  • a Start menu - an important little thing, but they cut it out in later versions;
  • advanced control over user account settings through advanced group policy;
  • perfect stability.

And the disadvantages:

  • no support from Microsoft;
  • does not allow you to back up individual folders or files - only the whole disk;
  • VPS performance can drop dramatically when power saving mode is enabled, but it can be easily fixed.

Even the most inexpensive virtual dedicated server is suitable for deploying network infrastructure based on Windows Server, as the recommended system requirements are extremely low: even a 1 GHz single-core processor will do, and all services and applications consume no more than 1-2 GB of RAM, depending on the settings.

Windows Server 2012

Still up-to-date OS, launched on September 4, 2012. Compared to its predecessor, it has received a number of improvements:

  • updated interface;
  • Windows PowerShell has gained support for over 2,300 new object commands;
  • improved Task Manager with a more user-friendly and informative interface;
  • management and auditing of IP4 and IP6 address space was improved;
  • updated Hyper-V hardware virtualization technology 3.0.

The arsenal of features of the printing subsystem has also been updated, so that the operating system was able to solve many corporate tasks of its time. This OS is optimally suited for managing multiple server machines, also thanks to the VDI technology, which allows remote access to the server.

From the security point of view there is also a number of improvements - in particular, Microsoft has for the first time added Dynamic Access Control service, which significantly improved centralized protection at the file domain level.

I'd like to highlight some shortcomings of Windows Server 2012 for virtual servers, but it's not so easy to do it, because Microsoft has created a quality product, which remains relevant even after 10 years. In the first years of existence, some administrators noted unstable operation of mail services and domain controller system, but with future updates, all these flaws have been fixed. The only thing you can blame Windows Server - all components are closely interconnected with each other, so it will be difficult to disable some unnecessary services. But this can be said about any version of the Windows operating system, including desktop versions.

which operating system is better for a virtual server - windows or linux

Windows Server 2016

This operating system was developed in parallel with Windows 10, so they have certain similarities and recognizable features in common, including the interface design. It is comfortable and looks very modern. Let's walk through the key features and benefits:

  • command line capabilities have been expanded and deepened;
  • Windows Update makes it easy to update Integration Services, tools for transferring data between sources;
  • introduced OpenGL and OpenCL support for remote desktops;
  • implemented HTTP/2 support;
  • got rid of the outdated Telnet server;
  • PowerShell 5.0 is available "out of the box," so many aspects of server management can be automated;
  • Windows Defender antivirus has become much more reliable, stable and convenient;
  • it is possible to securely boot virtual machines with guest Linux operating systems;
  • you can install Nano Server to work with Hyper-V hypervisor, Hyper-V cluster, SOFS (file server) and cloud services.

Basically, everything is the same, only better, bigger, and more modern. On the downside, there are difficulties with setting up PowerShell automation tools for virtual machines. Also, when using the Docker platform, you will have to make certain changes to the system, which is not always convenient.

Windows Server 2019

This is the most common server operating system from Microsoft at the moment. In fact, it is a highly updated Windows Server 2016, it was originally even planned to be called the same, adding to the name the coding "R2", which means "second edition".

Against the background of the 2016 version is distinguished by a lot of innovations and improvements. Here are the main ones:

  • simplified administration thanks to the Windows Admin Center;
  • simplified data migration with the Storage Migration Service technology;
  • updated and improved security, including Windows Defender;
  • the likelihood of data loss during failures has been reduced with an updated Storage Replica tool;
  • system analytics tools have been added, making troubleshooting easier.

Also, the interface has been improved, it became even more convenient and easy to learn, so that now even novices can easily get used to working with the virtual server on Windows Server. No more digging through manuals and sleepless nights trying to debug broken scripts.

Who Windows Server is right for

Microsoft operating system is mainly used in the corporate segment, when it is necessary to organize the server infrastructure to provide employees with remote access to workplaces. The advantages of this operating system compared to Linux:

  • easier to administer;
  • extremely convenient RDP technology;
  • compatibility with proprietary software written for the Windows desktop operating system, which is sometimes very useful;
  • accessible and understandable technical documentation, which will help to solve any problem through the system interface or the console;
  • the availability of light version of Windows Server Core without GUI, which consumes much less resources;
  • full support from Microsoft.

But, of course, you have to pay for all the good stuff - and that is the main drawback of Windows Server. You have to pay even for older versions of the OS that came out decades ago.

To sum it all up, the Microsoft operating system for servers is suitable for company intranets and ensuring the operability of specialized software, MSSQL databases, ASP.NET tools, or other software created specifically for Windows. After all, it is a complete and complete in all senses of the OS, which will allow to deploy routing, raise DNS or any other service. On Windows Server you can install the software that is required to run all the popular website "engines" - Apache, MySQL and PHP.

Linux for Servers: cons and pros

The Linux-like family of systems includes many distributions, and among them the best known and most popular are the following:

  1. Ubuntu. The most popular and fastest-developing distribution, which was first introduced in 2004. In today's reality, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS "Focal Fossa" is the most commonly installed version, as it is the most stable. In 2021, there are also releases numbered 21.04 and 21.10. If PHP language is important for your projects, then Ubuntu will suit optimally because of the convenience and speed. The same can be said about development in other popular languages: Python, Java, Ruby on Rails. After all, we can not miss the low consumption of server resources compared to Windows, and all other distributions in this matter loses to Ubuntu.
  2. Debian. It is the ancestor of Ubuntu, but unlike it, it has not become as popular and widespread. The main advantage of Debian is its high security and stability compared to any other operating system. It is flexible, secure and a very neat operating system, but be aware that it is developed by the Open Source community, so be prepared for some administrative difficulties. There is no one to contact for support, you will have to figure it all out by yourself, spending a lot of time reading manuals. It is also important to mention the slow development of the stable branch: all the new features and technologies take a very long time to get proven in the test builds, which often are not suitable for servers requiring stability and fault tolerance.
  3. CentOS. It is often used on virtual private servers, because it is not very demanding on system resources and its functionality is optimally tuned for use in a corporate environment. CentOS has been designed from the very beginning as a RedHat-like system, which is why we pay a lot of attention to stability, security and resource-saving. Perhaps, among the Linux-like systems it is the best option for web hosting. The disadvantages include a shorter development and update support cycle, so vulnerabilities will have to be dealt with when using older builds. For example, Red Hat, the company behind CentOS 8, stopped supporting it on August 2, 2021.

As you can see, Linux operating systems for virtual servers are represented quite widely, because each of these distributions has dozens of versions, each of which has its own features and specifics of application.

So what to choose: Windows Server or Linux?

So, let's go over the key points in order to compare these two families of server operating systems as concisely and objectively as possible:

  1. Programming languages. In principle, there are no significant differences between the operating systems in terms of programming languages support, with a few exceptions. If the project was developed using ASP.NET or VBScrpt, then you can work with it only on Windows Server. But for PHP is much better suited system of the Linux family. Although Vista is able to run php-scripts, the speed of their execution will be appreciably lower.
  2. Systems of database management. The popular MySQL database is perfectly supported by both systems, but if you look specifically at the bunch "PHP + MySQL", then Linux will be preferred in terms of efficiency. But to work with Access, Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft SQL is better suited operating system Microsoft.
  3. Ease of administration. Linux, of course, is more complicated, and often to solve some problems you have to spend a lot of time reading manuals and forums, where venerable geeks share their experiences. There is a category of people for whom this is even an advantage. In any case, from the point of view of convenience, Windows Server is much better, especially if we talk about modern versions of 2019 and 2022.
  4. Services and protocols. Generally work on any server OS, but with nuances. For example, on Linux, the SSH network protocol is supported by default out of the box, while on Windows it will have to be connected to the virtual dedicated server after the system installation.
  5. Cost. You have to pay for Windows Server, while Linux-like systems are distributed and supported by the community for free. But do not forget about the necessity to use RedHat when running your business, and it is paid, and it does not cost any less than Windows. And yes, this OS is even more secure and stable than free distributions.

From a financial point of view Linux will still be a bit more profitable than Windows, partly because you will not have to pay for additional components, while Microsoft is not shy about making money from its child in every possible way. And rightly so, but nevertheless: If you don't have any restrictions because of the technical specification or the specificity of the software, it is more profitable to use Linux. Especially when it comes to a simple task like hosting sites on Joomla, WordPress, Drupal. But if the project will be deployed on ASP or ASP.NET, it is only Windows Server, and no alternatives.

We hope our article will help you decide which operating system to choose for your VPS. If you have any questions, contact us at the phone numbers listed on the site or write to Livechat. Thank you for your attention!

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