Web hosting plans and packages
Your web hosting plan / package, is a permission that specifies how you are going to use your online space. It does not matter what term you use, they mean the same thing. Very often, web hosting plan is bought together with the domain name, but they function independently, just like your business and your workspace.
To make things more clear, if you think of your web host as your landlord, then paying for your web hosting plan is like paying your lease. Domain name is a part of your business and you can move it any time you want, so you can look at renewing your domain name as renewing your business license. You need them both, and although very often you can take care of them both at the same time, they are two separate things.
New webmasters who are trying to choose a web host often find that they are confronted with a plethora of web hosts that are offering a wide variety of packages. Some web hosts give you a choice of packages using the Linux Operating System (OS) and still others Windows. As a newcomer you might wonder whether the operating system of the package matters, and whether you should choose a Linux or a Windows.
What kind of web hosting plan you choose depends on what your website needs and what kind of technology your website rely on ( or will be built on). Just like you would first choose a building, depending on your needs and then pay the rent, so you should decide on your hosting needs and then buy it. With this guide we will try to clear up the confusion that some people might have.
I often hear people say that they are using a Mac, and ask whether there is such a thing as a web host offering Mac packages. By the time you are done with this part, you’ll realize that you don’t really need to get a web host offering a Mac OS X web hosting just because you’re using a Mac. For what it’s worth, I don’t know of any web host with Mac packages at the time we wrote this guide.
The computer OS you’re using is unrelated
Let me start by eliminating a common misconception among newcomers. Just because you are using Windows or Mac OS X or something else, it does not mean that you need to get a web host that happens to be running the same platform. Your web host system has nothing to do with the computer you’re using. They are two different things altogether. Let me break this down into the two aspects that new webmasters worry about, where this issue is concerned.
Some people are concerned that if they use a system that is different from that of their web host, the two systems will not be “compatible”. This is a needless worry. Things that run on your web host have to be specially crafted for your website, and they won’t be run on your own computer.
Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m familiar with Windows (or Mac) systems, so it’ll be easier to get a Windows (or Mac) web hosting account”. The interface you are dealing with will be similar whichever operating system your web host offers. How easy or hard the user interface depends on the company not the OS.
The real criteria for choosing the right OS for web hosting plan and package
Now you know that the computer you use has nothing to do with your web hosting package. But why do you need to decide whether to go with a Windows or a Linux hosting.
The reason why you need to choose a system first is because hosts are also running on some sort of software. What you want to avoid is building a website or getting it built for you, buying a hosting plan and in the end finding out that those two are not compatible. Thus your decision will be rather, on the basis of what your website needs.
Do you need Windows hosting?
Basically, the question is, will your website rely on Windows-specific technologies like ASP, or .NET or Microsoft Access, or Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL)? We’re not asking whether you need these technologies on your own computer, but whether your website will be coded using ASP or .NET. If you don’t understand any of this, chances are small that you’re going to use them. If someone is helping you to create a website you can ask them what technology they use, so you understand your hosting needs.
Do you need Linux hosting?
At this point, some of you are probably shaking your heads. All you want is to create a simple website, or start a blog, or to sell something online. What’s up with all these web jargon anyway? For the person looking to just setup a blog, or sell things with a shopping cart, or just create a standard website like firstsiteguide.com, and don’t have any special requirements, in 99% of the cases you will find it easier to use a Linux based host.
The majority of free / open source and commercial software (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) that most websites are made of today, be it small business, blog, or ecommerce site, build using a Linux based system. Likewise, the majority of tutorials on the web, especially those on configuring your web server, assume that your website is running on a Linux based system.