NT vs Unix Web Hosting
planning an Internet venture, one of the most basic
questions for any Webmaster is what platform to base
the Web site on. The two most popular platforms, UNIX
and NT are widely available and offer various
options and have differing abilities. Your choice
of platform will define the utility and type of software
that you can use, the kind of applications that your
site can run, what kind of server can host your site,
the amount of control you have over your site and
how efficiently your site will work as it grows in
When deciding on whether or not you will choose a
UNIX or NT platform it is important to keep in mind
what Web host will host your site. Established Web
hosts offer service on both platforms, while others
offer service only on NT or UNIX. Any Web Host can
offer service in either platform but the main difference
is in customer support. Above all, make sure when
choosing a host that they have a skilled technical
support team that is knowledgeable about the platform
Introduction to UNIX and NT
The fundamental difference between UNIX and NT stems
from how they came into existence. UNIX was designed
to integrate with large network systems, while NT
was made to serve the needs of individual users or
companies that don't want to deal with the complexities
of UNIX administration.
UNIX has been around, in one form or another, for
the last twenty years and as such is a very mature
platform. Because of this, the system is very well
developed and stable, and there is a lot of software
and applications designed to work for it. NT, on the
other hand, was created more recently by Microsoft
as a system specifically designed to handle the user-friendly
software, which it has developed for Web page design.
With NT, you get a platform that runs a series of
naturally compatible programs and applications that
mesh easily within the ubiquitous Windows environment.
The main thing is to decide which system suits the
projected needs of your Web site.
How will your customers or visitors view your
When you are planning your site, think of how your
visitors view your site. The technology is improving
every day and users are upgrading their systems in
kind, but it is important to remember that a great
number of users are working with technology that is
a few years out of date. This concept is important
at every level of Web site planning, even when deciding
what platform to use. Creating a complex web site
that requires a lot of data transfer will be slow
on older equipment and this may be counter productive
for you. Remember to think of your visitors when deciding
what software you are planning to use. This is important
because the software you want can some times determine
what platform you must use!
What programs and application will work for
FrontPage 2000 by Microsoft, Cold Fusion by Allaire,
CGI scripts, Cybercash, and Java servelts are just
a few off the many names and buzz words that float
around the Internet business. Deciding what software
you need and what features you want, and therefore
what kind of platform you run your site on, is one
of the most important decisions you will make. For
instance, if you or your are skilled systems administrator
you might choose the UNIX platform so that you can
take advantage of it programming flexibility. On the
other hand if your Web site is an accessory to your
business and your time and staff resources are small,
you should work with an integrated package like Microsoft's
FrontPage 2000 and run on an NT platform.
How large do you expect your site to grow?
When you are making the plan for your web site try
and think of how large it is going to grow. Is your
Web host going to need to support a lot of features?
Do you need Real Audio, Video or chat capability?
Are you going to have a lot of web pages and a lot
of traffic, e-mail accounts and E-commerce activity?
In the beginning, even if you start out small, on
a virtual host (or shared host), remember that one
day you may grow large. At the present time, you may
be advised to go with a UNIX platform because of its
flexibility, its multiple application possibilities
and its proven robustness in large Web site environments.
Keep in mind, however, that recoding from one platform
to another is difficult and time-consuming. Many believe
that Microsoft will soon have features comparable
to UNIX: Features that are not only easier for the
average Webmaster to use but ones that will integrate
easily into already existing Web sites.
How much administrative control do you really
In this category, UNIX is generally considered superior.
This is because its system allow for programming closer
to the base of the programming hierarchy. In UNIX
an experienced Webmaster or Web developer can fine-tune
a Web site, using CGI scripts, to create applications
and site features specific to their needs. In fact,
some Web hosting services even offer free CGI scripting
as part of their UNIX packages. Find out about these
when choosing your Web host. But the question is 'how
much administrative control do you really need?' Many
users do not need the kind of direct control that
UNIX provides and are better off with the simpler,
pre-prepared (and integrated) programming that Microsoft
supplies for the NT platform.
In the end, it will be the needs of you and your visitors
that will define what programs and applications you
want to work with. Once this is decided the kind of
platform you need will become apparent. If you need
help answering these questions, ask a professional
Web developer or sales representative from a reputable
Web hosting company. They will be able to help you
wade through the details and decide whether you should
use a UNIX or an NT platform. Defining whether one
platform is superior to the other is relative to you
and your visitors needs. UNIX is older and offers
some network and programming advantages, but you can
be sure that Microsoft is working overtime to produce
similar capability in a Webmaster friendly environment.
NT's simplicity and integration may make it a better
long-run solution for your web site.
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