An operating system is an integral part of a VPS, and is also relied upon by other types of servers too. Some would say that an operating system is the most important software found on computers and servers, and without them, they would not be able to function.

There are slight differences between a computer operating system (OS) and a server OS, but what actually is an operating system? And how can you choose one for your virtual private server?

What is an operating system?

An OS is responsible for taking care of and organising a computer’s resources. Operating systems use a graphical user interface (GUI) to allow interactions with menus, buttons and other forms of graphics. They are essential to the functionality of a computer, and so for this reason, they are usually pre-installed onto a computer. But it’s easy enough to swap out one OS for another if you decide you want something else.

What is a server operating system?

A server operating system, in simple terms, is an OS used by a server. It will have the same functionality as a computer OS, but in many ways it’s much more powerful. In the case of a VPS, the server itself is dedicated to one admin, but the operating system could be needed by multiple users on the server. So, the server OS will need to have high performance levels in order to cater to a wide range of users and computers.

The operating systems that you’ll likely have heard of are Windows and Linux. And these are the two most popular choices when it comes to VPS operating systems. Let’s delve into what we mean by a Windows and a Linux OS.


Many people feel comfortable opting for a big brand name like Windows, and this is often why they choose this as the OS for their server. With many different versions released over the years, Windows knows how to stay popular and to keep bringing out bigger and better operating systems.

The Windows server OS for VPS is created by Microsoft’s technical team, so – luckily for the beginners out there – it doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise and can be quite simple to operate. In fact, one of the most notable advantages of the Windows OS is its user-friendly interface, which can make the whole hosting process a lot more simple.

However, it has been noted that Windows can be slower than other operating systems on the market, and this is due to the data left over from constant updates. This is something that’s been known to sway opinions when it comes to choosing an OS.

When is Windows the best choice?

If many of the processes and software of your company rely on Microsoft, then a Windows OS is the easiest and most obvious choice. Windows is also specifically required by some apps in order for them to function properly, and it must be used in the following circumstances:

  • You utilise applications such as MS Access, ASP.NET, MySQL, and others that need Windows in order to be handled.
  • You need FTP access to move files between a computer and network.

Ultimately, Windows may be your best choice if you’re looking for a system where you don’t have to do much customisation.

The best Windows Versions for VPS

Even when you decide on Windows, there’s a number of operating systems to choose from. Below is a brief description of the best for a VPS:

Windows Server 2022: This is the latest version of Windows Server, and it comes with advanced multi-layer security, a flexible app platform, and hybrid capabilities with Azure. You also get secured-core capabilities to help protect the firmware and hardware, as well as protection against advanced security threats. There’s also encrypted HTTPS connections that are faster and more secure. It’s an all-round great choice.

Windows Server 2019: Brings improved security and hybrid capabilities for integration with the cloud.

Windows Server 2016: Stable and reliable when it comes to VPS hosting, with support for containers and added security features.

Windows Server 2012 R2: A popular choice, with improved storage management and enhanced virtualisation capabilities.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials: Its cost-effectiveness makes this a good choice for small businesses who may have limited IT resources. It provides simplified management and can be easily integrated with cloud services.

Ultimately, the best type of Windows OS will depend on your business’s unique needs and requirements, the types of applications you need to run, the traffic you’re expecting, and the level of security you require.


Next up is Linux, another great choice of OS. As a free, open-source operating system, Linux can be edited and modified by the users themselves or by distributors. These distributors use Linux to create their own OS variations, for example CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian all harness the power of Linux. This differs from a Windows OS which can only be modified by Windows themselves, and no one else. So if customisation is your thing, Linux or a Linux-based OS is a great choice.

Linux – the OS’s kernel or core – handles all system-related functions, including hardware, memory management, and data control, amongst other things. So when we say ‘Linux’ we actually mean the open-source distribution of this kernel.

As there are so many versions of Linux distributions – and given its open source nature – users can alter the code and create their own. You’ll need an understanding of SSH commands in order to use Linux server. If you consider yourself a beginner, Ubuntu and CentOS are simpler to use. For those that are a little more tech-savvy, you can opt for Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE or Red Hat.

When is Linux the best choice?

As you may have gathered, the user bases of Linux vs Windows can differ greatly, depending on your skill level and your needs. But there are situations when Linux would be the better choice for you:

  • If you don’t have access to that many resources
  • To avoid daily rebooting
  • For greater flexibility
  • If you need a reliable control panel, such as cPanel
  • When you require both SSH and FTP

How to pick a VPS operating system

So now you know the main differences, how do you settle on one?

Any OS has the capacity to be used on a VPS. However, some operating systems will function differently to others and the one you pick will depend on your preferences. In order to choose the best operating system for your VPS, there are some features to consider:

1. Security

A server OS is an integral part of your hardware, and in order to avoid data breaches we recommend checking the security of the OS you download. Some say that Linux is more security focused than Windows, and that you’re less likely to feel the wrath of viruses and such. Most operating systems will come equipped with a good level of security, but it’s always worth checking out some reviews first.

2. Performance

The speed of an operating system will differ depending on whether you opt for Linux, a variation of Linux, or a Windows OS. In general, a Linux OS is much quicker than a Windows OS, and therefore it runs applications a lot faster. In terms of other performance metrics, you’ll find that most operating systems are pretty similar across the board. With so many operating systems on the market, they can’t afford not to have great performance.

3. Functionality

Most of the time, the functionality of an OS depends on its compatibility with pre-installed software. There are a few types of software and programming languages that are specifically designed to work with only one OS. In those cases, you would have to opt for that OS, or your server won’t function properly.

There are also only a few operating systems that allow customisation. For example, you can edit the source code of Linux, but not for Windows. We know that not everyone will want to be this hands-on with their server OS, but for some this could be important.

4. Cost

Most Linux based operating systems, such as CentOS or Debian, are free, however this is not the case with Windows – which will cost extra to install. A Linux OS is a great budget-friendly option for those not looking to spend more on their VPS.

We hope this has given some insight into which operating system to choose for your VPS. We also have a range of other servers available such as cloud servers, and dedicated servers. So, if you’re interested in getting started with one of our products, get in touch today.