Choosing the Right Web Server

In my previous articles in this series (Part One & Two on How To Build A Web Site both available here at I began to outline just what is needed for the "real" web-site to succeed. In this article we are going to discuss the first important decision that you will have to make and which most people do not understand the far-reaching consequences that can affect and effect your web site way down the line as you get more sophisticated.

In the previous article Part Two of the How to Build Your Own Web Site series the first challenge we mentioned in our "Cookbook" was:

1. Web Server - Two choices here: Linux or Windows (and it does make a difference) And what else will my provider offer me?

Okay, so the first thing you may want to do to get an answer to this is to ask a few friends who are "techies". Before you do that get ready with some suitable body armor and make sure you can handle people frothing at the mouth and getting very excited about such a subject. You may find that some people will tell you:

"You are nuts to use a Linux Server. They are decent servers and fast that is true, but they require an incredible amount of attention and a System Administrator at the web hosting site that lives, breathes, eats and drinks Unix, Linux, RedHat etc. ."

And the others will tell you:

"Hah! Windows as a web server? Are you crazy? Open to attack. Vulnerable. Slow. Horrible to deal with. Crashes. Dll's all over the place that simply just crash. Microsoft? Keep them for Office. Big Boys use Linux!"

Okay, so now you are really confused. So let us get a few facts out there.

Both types of servers are vulnerable to attacks. Period.

Both types of servers need professional maintenance from trained professionals.

Both types of servers have been known to crash.

These are NOT the points you need to consider. What you do need to consider is the following:

Are you going to use a pure HTML site (all .htm pages) and are you going to use FrontPage or the equivalent to build it? In this case go with a Windows server.

Are you going to use ASP technology? - Must have Windows server.

Are you going to use Php? - You can use either Linux or Windows. However if you use Windows you must make sure you service provider supports PHP. Only they can answer that. Most people who use PHP use Linux servers and control access with the FTP changemod commands and a file called .htaccess. However, you can still use a Windows server with PHP and very effectively, I might add.

Are you going to need to need MYSQL Database? Database generation is sophisticated, but sometimes needed and often very important. Here I will make one clear point. Do not use Access for Web servers. It is slow, it is not made for large databases and it is very difficult to maintain on a web site. If you insist on using Access, then make sure you have a Windows server to support it. Don't forget to make sure that your web provider supports Mysql and gives you the ability to deal with your tables directly.

Still all mysterious for you?

Think ahead a bit. In actual terms you do not need to know nor should you care what server is being used as long as you have ftp access to your site and you can directly update it. However, if you are even an emerging "techie" then taking into account: