Virtual server assumes the own manual configuration of the software. The owner himself decides which operating system will serve the work of the machine, so it is important for him to choose the option that suits all the requirements.  

When installing the operating system for VPS, the clients’ choice fluctuates between the Windows and Linux families. In this article we will tell you about the pros and cons of both systems and the most popular distributions.

Read also: Is it worth using the VPS control panel?

Does the choice of operating system affect the appearance of sites? No. Users who visit the site will not see which system is installed on the server. This information is only available to technical staff who service the machine.

Otherwise, the difference lies in these criteria:

  • Cost
  • The system’s requirements for hardware
  • Performance
  • Safety
  • Simplicity/complexity of operation
  • Language and program support

Let’s take a look at all these nuances.

Windows Server

Windows Server attracts by its easy management and friendly interface. The OS receives constant support and fresh updates from the developer and mostly suits VPS renters who don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort on administration.

There are situations when installing Windows Server is the only option. This happens when Windows technologies are used for work (for example, 1C family software or sites written on ASP.NET platform).

Pros of Operating System:

  1. Easier to manage than Linux.
  2. It is necessary to work with specific technologies.
  3. Always receives support from the manufacturer.
  4. Remote access to the server from anywhere.


  1. Not suitable for most sites.
  2. It is quite expensive (even though Linux is generally free).
  3. The bulk of viruses are aimed at Windows, so most of its work is aimed at protecting against attacks.
  4. It is more demanding on hardware and consumes more resources.
  5. From management panels only Plesk is available.
Windows Server is ideal for VPS users who do not want to spend time and effort on administration

Windows Server distributions

There are ten versions of this OS, which differ in names by year, plus each has several variations. The system has been around since 2003, and the most recent release of Windows Server 2022 came off the line in early September 2021.

Currently, virtual servers use versions from 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2019. They’re different, so the choice depends on each operating system’s feature set.

Windows Server 2008 is a little outdated, but it is characterized by reliability and a good security package, so it still stands on many servers. Windows representatives themselves noted in 2019 that more than half of the VPSs in operation have this OS installed. If not for the official end of support in 2020, it would have been used for probably another 10 years. This version added three years of paid support, and then its fans will have to turn to more modern distributions.

Windows Server 2012 allows you to create a cloud environment, its main difference – the possibility of group settings, the management of multiple servers, their synchronization, installation of virtual desktops and access to the server from remote devices. This version is also still popular among users.

Windows Server 2016 continues the trend of 2012 and supports the cloud environment, while already incorporating all the innovations of the time. Since this version was developed at the same time as Windows 10, their interface is almost identical. The main difference from the previous version is the beginning of the use of Linux-specific technologies, which was not practiced before. First of all, it is the creation of containers – isolated operating systems. Microsoft’s containerization symbolized the end of the “cold war” between operating systems. The truce was cemented by the ability to create Linux guest operating systems in Windows Server.

Windows Server 2019 has gathered all the strengths of the previous two versions and the latest improvements relevant to 2018, when it was introduced. Integration with Linux continues. Another new feature worth mentioning is the Storage Migration Service, which makes it easy to migrate older servers to newer operating systems, while analyzing the configuration and all server settings.

Windows Server 2022 is designed based on the 2019 version with upgrades in all aspects of the system – even more emphasis on security, a secure kernel, HTTPS and TLS 1.3 connectivity and many other upgrades promise to make the latest release really the best one presented.


Linux is a free operating system which stands out due to its open source nature. It is developed and maintained by a community of enthusiasts, so there is an unimaginable number of OS versions and each installed package is different after manual configuration.

The main advantages of this OS are:

  1. Easy, speed and performance. Linux is much faster and more efficient than Windows and does not require that many resources to run.
  2. security – the OS is not vulnerable to virus attacks.
  3. Linux and all its software should be free of charge.
  4. Reliability and stability. Due to its architecture, the system is practically unaffected by viruses, attacks are mainly aimed at Windows.
  5. Most popular CMS work on the OS of this family.
  6. Collaborates with a number of control panels.

Minuses of Linux:

  1. Require manual configuration, so the virtual server administrator must have knowledge and experience with the product.
  2. While Windows is capable of working with all languages and components, Linux is not compatible with some Windows technologies.
Linux is a free and open-source operating system, and therefore there are an immeasurable number of versions of it

Linux distributions

Debian is the largest Linux distribution and has been the foundation for many of the later versions of the operating system. It has a strong community so that there are quick solutions for every question. Debian was released in 1993 and has almost 30 thousand free software packages in its repository. It is very fast and reliable, and can be used to deploy a virtual server in 20 minutes.

Ubuntu is based on Debian, with a similar architecture and using the repositories of its ancestor. This version is easier to manage and therefore often used on home PCs. It can be used by newbies and later upgraded to Debian if needed.

Gentoo is the version for advanced users. It is a high-performance distribution which is downloaded to your computer as code and then installed (unlike most versions of Linux which are downloaded as a precompiled version). It is suitable only for competent specialists and requires serious knowledge.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is one of the few paid Linux-based products. It is designed for enterprise use and allows the creation of a cloud environment.

Fedora is the free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It has a large community of enthusiasts and is supported by Red Hat. And, although it was designed as a sandbox for the paid version, Fedora is a fairly robust and fast distribution. Fedora is often chosen before installing the paid version of the product to practice and test all the features.

CentOS is Fedora’s sibling, developed by the community based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Previously, it also received support from its parent organization, but in 2021 the vendor announced it was discontinued, confusing everyone who had one of the most popular versions of Linux on a VPS for years. So while the name is often found in recommendations for choosing an OS for a virtual server, the information is, alas, already outdated.

Everyone who used CentOS is advised to switch to Almalinux. After the news about the termination of support, the community picked up the favorite distribution, finalized it and released an independent free analogue. Almalinux has all the features of the late CentOS and develops on its principles, allowing server owners to continue to use all the advantages of its predecessor.

To sum it up

Both systems are good in their own way. Windows has a simple interface and is the basis for many unique programs that are used by businesses. Windows is good for large businesses because of its prevalence – it can be used by almost everyone. It also supports virtual desktops, so Windows can be used to set up a virtual office. However, it is resource-hungry and not free. Windows is not suitable for most existing sites.  

Linux is light, fast, free and invulnerable. It is suitable for individual projects and small businesses. OS saves technical resources, but requires specific knowledge of the administrator, so it is not suitable for beginners in development. It does not support Windows products, so in the case of working with accounting on 1C it will not put even with all desire.

Now you know which system to choose for your VPS-server, so it performed all tasks, bringing the benefit and profit to the owner. It remains only to choose the server.

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