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Differences between Windows Server and a Linux server

Differences between Windows Server and a Linux server

There are a huge variety of servers to choose from and each of them have distinct features. We’ll break down the most important points so you can understand the key differences between Windows Server and a Linux server.

There has been a long debate for years among professionals and developers over which server is better. While it may appear that most people in the field rave about Linux servers, there are pros and cons for both sides depending on what organizations want to do and the level of experience IT professionals have.

A Windows Server and a Linux server have some common benefits of being reliable, stable and able to handle demanding business needs. Here are the key differences:

Windows Server Linux Server
A group of operating systems designed by Microsoft that is available to customers with restrictions on its use Variant of the Linux open-source operating system that is available to everyone with minimal restrictions
Users have to pay a higher price to use the server, software, applications and features Free or low-cost server options to meet the requirements of business applications and there is no server licensing
Receive support from Microsoft’s technical support team Receive technical support from an active community of developers
Easy and quick to install and manage Very complex and time-consuming to install and manage
Less flexibility on what you can and can’t do on a server Much more flexibility to customize the server to a user’s preferences
Security is managed by Microsoft staff and can take longer to resolve Bugs and security updates are handled by a community of developers and pushed out quickly

What is a Linux server?

To understand how a Linux server works, it’s important to have a basic understanding of Linux.

Linux is an operating system just like Windows 10. An operating system is a software that manages the communication between your software (programs and other operating information used by a computer) and hardware (physical components of a computer). The software wouldn’t function without the operating system. There is a community of developers behind each Linux distribution, or “distro.” You can think of each distro as a “version.”

Linux is open source which means that people can run the program for any purpose and  redistribute copies to help someone. Linux was first released in 1991 and has become the platform to run desktops, servers and other systems around the world. We’re constantly surrounded by smart phones, cars and supercomputers among many other things but few people know that all of these gadgets run on the Linux operating system.

A Linux server is built on the Linux open-source operating system that’s designed to handle the more demanding needs of business applications such as network administration, database management and Web services.

Many IT professionals often prefer Linux over other servers for its reputation for stability, security and flexibility for users including some business enterprises. But despite the power and flexibility of Linux, installing and managing a distro is hard and time-consuming. It’s important to make sure that the right code is correct.

Benefits of Linux servers

The variety of benefits Linux servers provide have created a community of strong advocates for the server. Here are some its key advantages:

Low-cost option

The servers can meet the increasing requirements of business applications like network administration, web servers and database management. While the operating system is free to install, the server’s support services come at a cost but at a cheaper price than other server options.

Flexibility and control

Because Linux is open source code, it’s available to all users to customize as they need. It provides full control over a machine.


Overall, cybersecurity experts say Linux is more resilient than other operating systems. The community of developers regularly review the source code of a distro to make sure it’s free of bugs. Because everyone is free to look at the source code, bugs are found more quickly and updates on security are pushed out in the community without waiting for a manufacturer to fix it.


Many people feel Linux is a very stable and reliable operating system with a lower risk of crashes and errors. It can handle more processes simultaneously, high user volumes and doesn’t need periodic reboots. IT professionals find it offers consistent high performance on networks.

What is Windows Server?

Windows Server is a group of operating systems designed by Microsoft that supports enterprise-level management, data storage, applications and communications. It is generally able to provide server-oriented services like the ability to host a website, manage users, messaging, security and authorization and many other server-focused services.

A 2016 Spiceworks State of IT report said 87% percent of organizations worldwide run Windows Server. Windows is seen as the “corporate” choice.


Benefits of a Windows Server

Windows was criticized for years for having security issues and a lack of integration between applications among other problems. But they upgraded many features in Windows Server 2016 based on feedback from customers.

Below are some benefits of Windows Server.

Ease of server installation

People save time and money because it’s easy to install the server and people are more familiar with Windows’ operations systems. Windows Server streamlines the implementation and distribution of computer resources, which saves a lot of time for IT departments.

Easy to manage

Windows Server 2016 requires less skill and people to manage it. There is no need to find custom solutions to problems. Common software, services and cloud offerings work well with the server.


There are added layers of security to fight against viruses and attacks on the system. Some of the features include allowing people to have just enough administration permissions for a limited amount to reduce the risk of a compromised system.

Cloud service integration

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing server that helps people and businesses build, manage and run applications on a massive global network including internal email systems and public websites. They can connect remotely on Azure and it provides backup, storage and site recovery at minimal cost. It makes it easy for businesses to scale up to handle high customer demands.



One of the biggest differences between a Linux server and Windows Server is the cost and distribution rights. Linux’s server distributions are free or low-cost to use while people have to buy a version of Windows Server to use it.

A Linux server is also free to distribute to anyone and has minimal restrictions on how it is used while Windows Server has distribution costs because of licensing and has restrictions on what people can and can’t do on the server. Linux servers offer more flexibility because people can customize it the way they want but this requires more time, skill and people to install and manage.

Many organizations use Windows servers because it is reliable, familiar and the installation saves a lot of time. The many upgrades made on Windows Server 2016 includes layers of security systems and cloud service integration. Users find great benefits in their simple packaged solution.

One server may not always be absolutely better than the other because they both offer solutions depending on a business’ expertise and organizational needs.