Windows or Linux? Selecting the Right OS for Data Center Servers

Organizations that choose to deploy bare metal or physical servers for their data centres often get confused when selecting the operating system for their servers for data center

Organizations that choose to deploy bare metal or physical servers for their data centres often get confused when selecting the operating system for their data centre server. Windows or Linux, which OS is apt for servers? You have to consider a lot of things before making the right decision, such as why you want servers, what software you want to run, how many users you want to serve, etc. Determining your needs and understanding each OS environment will help you choose the best option. Let’s examine these two distinct OS platforms to decide whether Linux or Windows is suitable for your data centre servers. 

Is it Open Source or Proprietary OS?  

Linux is open source, and Windows is a proprietary OS. Many versions of Linux are built on common Linux operating systems but include additional applications. Some of them include Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian and more. Developers that design Linux Distros can address OS queries, such as adding patches, fixing errors, adding new features etc. This openness has disadvantages too. Being an open-source OS means hackers can easily understand the code and alternate it to use it for their good. Plus, adding new features and fixing bugs isn’t quick and easy in Linux. Having said that, there are plenty of popular applications and servers that run on Linux. 

Alternatively, there is Windows OS and a server version called Windows Server OS. It’s in its tenth iteration, and the latest release is named Windows Server 2022, succeeding Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and it goes on. As mentioned above, Windows Server OA is a closed platform, which means you cannot see its source code (it only belongs to Microsoft). Although you can still run paid and free programs on Windows, it’s not open source. It gives more control but limits development and creativity. Only Microsoft has the right to fix errors and add features.  


If you consider performance, both Linux and Windows OSes provide excellent performance. Linux offers more scope for fine-tuning the performance, but it can lead you to unexpected situations you probably don’t know how to deal with. You will find some light Linux Distros that beat Windows when running on the same hardware. Alternatively, Windows is heavy, especially when interacting with your data centre server through a graphical interface instead of Linux’s command prompt. So overall, a server with Linux is better if it’s run on the same hardware as a Windows server. 


Security is a prime priority for many modern data centres. On the surface, both OSes are well-secured. Linux offers better customization options for free and paid software, extra security like firewalls, antivirus software, data & user management and more. Also, Linux provides fast and more security patches as it has support from many large communities. Many distros offer security to protect the vulnerabilities against hackers. 

If you talk about Windows, Microsoft takes time to release patches and fixes, but they are from authentic sources. But since all the Windows server OS are based on the same code, it’s easier for professional hackers to attack. Windows is great for professionals who know how to protect their servers. 


On Linux, you can create different groups of users and assign them access to diverse applications and files, helping them organize their work efficiently. In Windows, users can be admins and standard users with complete or limited control. Plus, limited users can have access to Windows servers. If you want to add more users, you may have to change the license, which will cost more money.   


Updates and Support:  

Windows servers aren’t frequent, but it offers the longest support through Microsoft, which is five years and an additional five years with new security patches. On the other hand, Linux gets frequent updates and more than Windows. It’s easier to update it and get the latest patches. Additionally, many Linux Distros offer long support, such as Ubuntu LTS, so you don’t have to renew the license more often. 


Windows servers can be costly as the price varies based on the number of servers and the users. Conversely, Linux is a free OS.  

Wrapping Up: Windows or Linux for Your Server for a Data Centre?  

To decide between Windows and Linux OS, analyze your needs first. Consider your business needs, budget, the servers you want to use, the number of users who will use them, etc. Also, if you need a server for a .net application, Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL, you can choose Windows OS. For PHP, Python, Pearl, etc., you can use Linux. In the end, the choice all depends on your needs and budget.  

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