Windows vs. Linux: Which OS Should You Use for Your Server?

Whether you run a small, medium, or large business, having a good server operating system (OS) is essential.

More likely than not, you have a server OS on your personal or home computer, which is different from the kind you need for your business. A business server is optimized for a network, which means it can host multiple users. It also has much more memory, which helps it to do everything from storing files to acting as an email server.

With so many operating systems for business servers to choose from, how do you pick the right one?

There are two server solutions at the forefront of the current market: Microsoft and Linux. The following overview will help you determine which one is best for your business.


Microsoft Windows is the most common and well-known OS because it is typically installed on store-bought computers. If you are accustomed to using Windows at home, then Windows Server is definitely your best option. It is easy to install and typically more user-friendly than Linux systems, as Microsoft strives to create simple operating systems. Even if you are already familiar with Windows, you could still experience a small learning curve with Windows Server. However, it tends to be more adaptable than a Linux server.

Windows Server features an intuitive graphical user interface (UI), and it provides simple and optional automatized system updates. Because it’s Windows-based, this server is highly compatible with apps like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. You also get exclusive access to applications like SharePoint and Exchange.

Windows Server requires you to pay licensing fees, which rise as you add more users. Though it is not free, you are guaranteed long-term support and updates throughout the support lifecycle, which usually lasts several years - this alone justifies the cost of licensing.


Unlike Windows, Linux is a free OS that offers a plethora of open source applications. It is a great option for web and mail server needs, and it’s a “go-to” for many businesses using PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, or MySQL.

Linux maintains a basic OS structural design, which increases operating freedom, albeit with more labor. All components require adjusting the core system, which is typically achieved via the command line. This makes the OS less user-friendly, which makes it difficult for beginners to navigate.

One advantage of Linux is its security, so it is rarely targeted by cybercriminals; but when security errors do arise, they are easily handled. On the other hand, Linux updates can be complex and, unlike Windows, not every version includes long-term support. You may also find that enterprise programs tend to be incompatible with Linux.

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