What is the difference between Unix and NT systems ?

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by: Kate Smalley

Shared or virtual hosting is usually available in two varieties: UNIX and NT. What is the difference between hosting on these operating systems?

NT servers are designed to accommodate advanced Microsoft applications. NT servers therefore integrate back office offerings such as FrontPage, Access and MS SQL with basic Web services. NT servers also offer specific programming environments such as Active Server Pages (ASP), Visual Basic Scripts, MS Index Server and Cold Fusion, which mainly link database applications to the Web.

NT servers do not provide an interactive shell, but are accessible through GUI-based remote administration packages such as PCAnywhere. Such packages allow you to log into the server's desktop as chief administrator as long as you have full control over your server.

We only recommend NT hosting if you intend to run your own dedicated server. The quality of hosting degrades rapidly if the Web host attempts to run an NT server as a shared hosting system.

Since NT servers provide unparalleled levels of support, security and integration for the Microsoft family of products, we recommend that you only select NT if you need to link a Microsoft-based service to your Internet hosting requirements.

NT is rather complex and labor-intensive and should only be selected if the webmaster has extensive experience in maintaining Windows systems remotely and requires product/Web integration.

A lot of hosting solutions are also provided on the UNIX platform. This is because the UNIX platform is specifically designed to accommodate heavy Web traffic and server load. UNIX servers are robust and are recognized for their ability to host multiple sites and serve out gigabytes of traffic.

This platform is also preferred by most webmasters due to their technical requirements. Most webmasters outsource their e-commerce solutions, and therefore don't need to configure complex database systems on their pay Web sites. UNIX servers also provide a wider degree of flexibility due to their shell environment. Shell environments are interactive, text-based systems that allow webmasters to interact and customize their services in real-time from any computer system worldwide. Unlike NT systems, UNIX is not limited to special remote administration programs. A typical UNIX system can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet without special or expensive software.

But the most favored reason that most webmasters choose the UNIX platform is because of its uptime. Most UNIX systems with heavy traffic can provide 99 per cent uptime. NT servers with heavy traffic usually cannot make this same claim, unless specially configured. For this reason, average webmasters should select UNIX as their OS.

If you don't know which platform you need, then most likely you do not require NT hosting and you should select one of our UNIX hosting plans. The only time you would need to use NT hosting is when you are using the specific NT applications noted above. Microsoft FrontPage may be used on both the UNIX and NT platforms as since most hosting firms support the Microsoft FrontPage server extensions on both.

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