Windows Hosting OverviewWhen it comes to available web hosting services for websites, Windows hosting occupies a key position in web hosting options. Let’s briefly get you acquainted with Windows hosting and answer some of the frequently asked questions. First of all, it’s important to clarify that you do not need to use a Windows hosting server just because you’re using a Windows PC (or other devices running on the Windows operating system). You can host your website on any web hosting server (regardless of if the server is Windows, Linux, MAC, etc. based) and still get people to access your website on the Internet. So then why the need for Windows web hosting you may ask? Well, let’s dive in and give you more details.
What is Windows Server?Windows Server is an operating system released by Microsoft for housing and serving business data and application within a corporate Intranet as well as the public Internet. It was first released back in 1993 as Windows NT. Now, we’re not going into too many details about Windows Server given the vastness of the topic domain. However, we’ll discuss relevant aspects as it pertains to common use cases when it comes to website hosting. A Windows server is mainly used in hosting websites developed using Microsoft technologies such as ASP.NET, ASP.NET Core, ASP.NET MVC, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. Websites built using these technologies cannot be web hosted effectively on non-Windows servers such as Linux. But wait a minute. Linux is open-source and free. Why would one want to build a website on a proprietary platform such as Microsoft that costs money? Well, it may surprise you to know that Microsoft web development technologies such as the ones mentioned above; are thriving with millions of web developers around the world adopting them. One of the many reasons web developer choose web development technologies such as ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, and other related technologies is the ease-of-use that Microsoft has often been known. In addition, these web development technologies are made available free and developers don’t have to pay anything for them (except when using IDE) and thus there aren’t many barriers to entry.
Windows Hosting Supported Technologies?Let’s take a look at some of the important web development technologies supported by Windows hosting servers. If you are looking for a Windows hosting solution, make sure all the technologies below are supported.
1. ASP.NET CoreIn the beginning, there were ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, and ASP.NET Web API. Now, there is the ASP.NET Core! ASP.NET Core is is a web development framework developed by Microsoft and its developers’ community. It is a free and open-source framework that boost higher performance than ASP.NET. Furthermore, this framework is a complete rewrite and unifies ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, and ASP.NET Web API into a single programming model. It has a modular architecture and supports both the .NET framework on Windows and its cross-platform counterpart .NET Core.
2. ASP.NETASP.NET was introduced back in 2002 as the successor to Microsoft’s Activate Server Pages (ASP). It is an open-source web application development framework designed for the development of dynamic database driven web websites.
3. ASP.NET MVCASP.NET MVC is also a web development framework that implements the MVC (Model View Controller) design pattern. Equally, it’s an open-source framework and often used together with ASP.NET, ASP.NET Web Forms, and ASP.NET Web API.
4. Classic ASPClassic ASP (Active Server Pages) was Microsoft’s first server-side scripting language that allowed for the development of database driving and dynamically-driven web pages.
5. Microsoft SQL ServerMicrosoft SQL Server (a.k.a MS SQL Server) is Microsoft’s flagship database management system (DBMS).
5. Microsoft Access DatabaseMicrosoft Access allows for the creation of desktop database application. Windows hosting allows for the upload of this database file, programmatically query using it using SQL, and present results using ASP.NET or Classic ASP code.
Does Windows Hosting Support Other Web Development Technologies?Now that we have an idea of what a Windows Server is, the next logical question people often ask is if Windows server can host other web development technologies such as PHP and MySQL? And the answer is YES. If you remember, the Windows Server is an operating system. In this operating system is what is known as the Internet Information Services (IIS) IIS is the web server that serves the websites uploaded to a Windows server. IIS is basically to Windows server what Apache web server is to a Linux server. In addition to supporting HTTP, HTTP/2 and HTTPS, it also supports FTP, FTPS, SMTP and NNTP. IIS allows for different configurations to support other web development technologies such as PHP, Perl, Python, ColdFusion, WordPress, Joomla, etc. So it doesn’t limit or confine the web developer to only Microsoft technologies. Also, it allows for the support for different type of of database management systems such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, PostgreSQL and a host of others. However, that being said Windows server and IIS are mainly designed and optimized for hosting websites built using web development technologies such as ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. If your website was developed using open source technologies such as PHP, MySQL, Python, etc., we highly suggest getting a Linux hosting environment as its best suited for such technologies.
Benefits of Windows Web HostingAs you can already see there are several benefits to using Windows web hosting for your website, most especially if your website is built using the abovementioned Microsoft technologies. However, let’s take a look at other benefits that are available to you when hosting your website on a Windows web hosting server.
1. Storage spaceStorage space is allocated disk space provided with your Windows web hosting account for storing your website’s files. Such files include but not limited to scripting files, images, database, emails, etc. With the advent of cheaper storage disk drives, rarely will you be charged for over usage. Most Windows hosting providers give you unmetered storage space unlike before when storage spaces were set a limit.
2. BandwidthBandwidth is the amount of data transfer you can make in a given month. This includes both website visitor traffic as well as FTP traffic when uploading your website files. Again, with the affordability of data bandwidth solutions, most Windows web hosting providers will give you unmetered bandwidth which is more than enough for your growing website needs.
3. DatabasesPopular databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Microsoft Access databases are supposed by serious Windows web hosting providers. You shouldn’t expect less!
4. Email AccountsIn addition to hosting your website, Windows shared hosting solutions include email hosting along with their offerings. With email, you can enjoy the advantages of having your very own custom email addresses @yourdomainname.com instead of using free email service. In fact, this will make you appear more professional and can deliver more leads for your business (if you’re hosting a business website).
5. FTP AccountsFTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s the standard Internet protocol that allows for the transfer of your website from your computer to the Windows hosting server.
Web Hosting Control Panel for Windows Shared HostingAs we’ve stated above, the IIS is the web server that serves website files on a Windows hosting server. Now, as a website owner or administrator, there are several tasks you’ll want to perform. Such task includes but not limited to database management, email account setup, website analytics, software installation, etc. And performing these tasks directly in IIS or the Windows server can be a bit technical if you’re not a server administrator.
Well, there are control panels designed to make performing such task easy. A web hosting control panel is basically a web-based administrative interface provided by the Windows shared hosting provider that allows you to easily manage your website without the need to go under the hood.
The most popular Windows shared hosting control panel in the market is Plesk. It’s a comprehensive, advanced and yet easy-to-use control panel for Windows web hosting environments.