11 FAQs About ASP.NET Hosting
Because the best ASP.NET hosting primarily runs in Windows environments, it can be a bit harder to discover than other solutions; think of the service as the needle in a haystack of Linux-based options.
To be fair, ASP.NET gives developers cross-platform runtime security across a wide range of operating systems, programming languages, and hardware.
Microsoft’s open-source web-application framework enables website owners to build dynamic, database-driven pages using related tools like Visual Studio, MS SQL, and the Kestrel web server.
Not sure where to start your search? Hopefully our answers to readers’ most common questions will help point you in the right direction.
1. What is ASP.NET Hosting?
ASP.NET hosting refers to shared, VPS, cloud, and dedicated server plans that support Microsoft’s runtime extension for the .NET framework on web server hardware in a datacenter.
Sounds complicated, right? Let’s simplify:
Essentially, ASP.NET hosting is any hosting service that supports the .NET platform for application development. That usually entails Windows hosting, but doesn’t have to.
Instead of maintaining ASP.NET as a proprietary, licensed, Windows-only runtime environment, Microsoft decided to change to a free, open-source, and cross-platform system with the release of ASP.NET Core in 2016.
In addition to the usual web hosting features such as a control panel, SSL certificate, and disk space, an ASP.NET hosting service will offer specialized tools.
Keep an eye out for plans that support different .NET runtimes, Windows operating system distributions, databases, web API platforms, and developer tools on shared server hardware.
A shared Windows hosting package is a low-cost method to operate ASP.NET websites and mobile apps in production. Cloud and VPS plans offer a higher level of isolation for better security in multi-tenant environments.
Dedicated servers are typically available with managed ASP.NET support or as bare-metal hardware for you to install any Windows distribution and database required.
2. When Would I Need an ASP.NET Hosting Provider?
The main advantage of ASP.NET hosting is to provide Windows development teams with a secure runtime environment for an application pool in production.
Independent companies can use the ASP.NET hosting model to gain access to high-speed datacenter facilities or high-powered web server hardware that they could not independently build and maintain locally.
Ultimately, you should look for an ASP.NET service if you’re familiar with languages like C# and are looking for an alternative to PHP programming.
Benefits of ASP.NET include:
- Improved performance with lightweight, compiled code
- Less programming time needed for large applications
- Cross-platform support for Windows, Linux, and Mac
- Open-source flexibility and large community support
- Support for multiple programming languages
- Built-in optimization, monitoring, and caching services
- Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE)
The .NET framework is designed from the start as a means for web developers to speed up console application deployment by relying on shared or trusted code components in a modular environment.
ASP.NET hosting providers support the complex requirements of Windows software development while giving systems administrators more runtime flexibility.
Other hosting options to consider with Microsoft SQL Server are the availability of Visual Studio, Exchange, free SSL security, and SSD disk space for the storage on accounts.
Make sure the hosting bundle includes a free SSL certificate for encryption across every HTTP request and IIS worker process. A hosting account should also include an experienced customer support team.
3. How Much Does an ASP.NET Website Cost?
If you’re looking for affordability with ASP.NET, a shared Windows server is likely your best bet.
The .NET framework and any other tools you may need will likely come preinstalled, and server management will be taken care of by data center engineers with loads of security training and Windows certifications.
The average cost for ASP.NET hosting on shared Windows servers is about $5 to $8 per month in the current marketplace.
VPS and cloud options for ASP.NET hosting start around $8 per month for 1 vCPU, 1GB RAM, and 20GB of SSD storage. A more realistic price point for your project, though, may be as high as $20 per month
|$5 to $8 per month||$8 to $30 per month||$80 to $150+ per month|
However, the cost of an ASP.NET website is much different than just the price of the hosting plan.
For starters, don’t forget about your domain name costs and any upgrades for backups or enhanced security.
Programming an ASP.NET website or mobile application can be fairly expensive. Many businesses hire in-house teams of programmers and engineers to build custom applications or module components for their brands.
Even though .NET Core is free and open-source, you may find yourself needing to purchase additional software licenses for an easier or more powerful development experience.
For example, you’ll likely have to foot the bill for your Windows operating system if your website requires VPS hosting or a dedicated server.
4. What are the Differences Between Linux Hosting and a Windows Server?
As visitors, we rarely think about which operating system is powering the server behind the website — the main difference between Linux and Windows servers.
But choosing Linux vs. Windows hosting can have massive impacts on a site owner’s costs and the software programs available to create and manage their site.
1. Operating System
This one’s easy. Windows servers rely on… well, the Windows operating system, which requires a licensing fee to use.
2. Web server
Most Windows servers use an IIS framework, which is Microsoft’s proprietary web server. Kestrel, the cross-platform web server included in ASP.NET Core, is gaining popularity.
Site owners using Linux have several open-source options to choose from: Apache, NGINX, and LiteSpeed are the most common.
3. Programming languages
4. Control panel
Plesk is most common with Windows plans, while you’ll most likely find cPanel on Linux-based options. Both types of plans will enable you to easily install popular programs, configure email inboxes, and other tasks.
Even though .NET Core is open-source and works on other operating systems, the inherent reliance on Microsoft Windows technologies means inevitable licensing fees and slightly higher hosting costs.
Linux machines can usually leverage freely available software from head to toe, enabling providers to pass on the savings to customers.
5. How Do I Choose the Best Windows Host?
Since Microsoft built the ASP.NET Core server package for use on a wide range of hardware platforms, IT managers should research which service offers the best performance for software in production at the lowest costs.
Here are some tips to consider when comparing your options.
- Define your budget (and any additional software or features)
- Identify the most important features to your project
- Have a sense of the traffic and disk space you expect to need
- Contact the sales or support teams to gauge the host’s responsiveness
Finding the best fit from the start will save you the trouble and frustration of needing to migrate to a better solution later.
First, consider whether you need to support a single website with an ASP.NET application pool or unlimited domain names in a shared hosting environment.
Dev teams should also factor in any pipelines for version control and collaboration. The right hosting package can integrate staging, testing, and production environments for your code.
Examine how much daily or monthly web traffic your web application will need to support. Make sure that each HTTP request is governed by secure encryption via an SSL certificate.
Knowing your bandwidth requirements for any project will be the best guide to deciding between shared Windows hosting plans, working with VPS configurations, or going with a dedicated server.
6. What is an ASP.NET Core Application?
Microsoft released ASP.NET Core in 2016 and is the signature component of the .NET 5 platform.
The extension package can now run on Windows, Linux, and macOS computers, and licensing fees have largely been removed.
The move to open-source terms expands the definition of a Windows host and supports modern app programming methods.
Essentially, ASP.NET Core is the open-source and cross-platform version of ASP.NET. All new ASP.NET development should happen in .NET Core to take advantage of all new updates.
Older, Windows-only versions of ASP.NET will continue to receive minor updates and bug fixes, but the majority of innovation will happen with ASP.NET Core.
Web hosting companies still frequently support older versions of ASP.NET, so be sure to host your application with a provider that runs ASP.NET 5 or higher.
The ASP.NET Core runtime extension includes many module options to accelerate web development for professional teams or individual programmers.
The broader .NET 5 includes the best of.NET Core, .NET Framework, Xamarin, and Mono for wider support than just Microsoft SQL Server.
Now you can use multiple operating systems with ASP.NET apps in the production and distribution of code.
7. What is MS SQL Server?
Have you heard of MySQL? Microsoft SQL Server (or MS SQL) is the Windows variety.
MS SQL Server and MySQL are relational database management systems — or more simply, database software — that rely on Structured Query Language (SQL) to store and retrieve website and application data.
SQL has been the global standard for relational database construction, operation, and management since its creation in the 1970s, and Microsoft’s software emerged a decade later.
Although there are many other types of databases, developers currently choose between SQL and NoSQL solutions for most projects.
With SQL database development, there are many open-source and Linux-friendly options like MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL that compete with MS SQL Server options.
Developers often use NoSQL solutions, such as MongoDB, for better performance at scale for web and mobile apps with high traffic.
8. Which Hosts Offer the Plesk Control Panel?
Here are some of our favorite hosts that include Plesk with various hosting packages:
|InterServer||$8.00/month||Shared, VPS, and dedicated|
|HostGator||$4.76/month||Shared hosting only|
|GoDaddy||$5.99/month||Shared, VPS, and dedicated|
|AccuWebHosting||$3.52/month||Shared, VPS, and dedicated|
|ResellerClub||$3.49/month||Shared, VPS (Linux only), and dedicated|
|Hostwinds||$4.99/month||VPS and dedicated only|
|Liquid Web||$15.00/month||VPS and dedicated only|
Although cPanel is the industry standard at the affordable shared hosting level, Plesk actually dominates the web panel market.
The platform boasts a cleaner interface that is more intuitive for users to learn, and Plesk comes with all the same server administration features as cPanel — for a fraction of the price.
Plesk includes natural support for NGINX and Apache, along with built-in autoinstallers and management tools for unlimited domain names.
Developers can also use Plesk on VPS plans for Windows Server management. Plesk includes more than 100 extensions that add even more functionality to the control panel.
Of note, A2 Hosting no longer offers Windows-based ASP.NET or Plesk services. The usually developer-friendly provider will not support the web panel on any of its managed services.
Alternatively, HostGator is an incredibly user-friendly ASP.NET hosting provider that oddly only supports Windows technologies at the shared web hosting level.
You may find some luck adding the ASP.NET framework and Plesk to an unmanaged A2 Hosting VPS or dedicated server, but traditional users may want to look beyond A2 Hosting for a more familiar and supported environment.
9. What is the Kestrel Web Server?
The Kestrel web server is Microsoft’s cross-platform HTTP server framework for ASP.NET Core runtime support.
Kestrel runs on both Windows and Linux hardware to provide standardized compilation support for ASP.NET applications in production.
In basic terms: Kestrel is the default web server for ASP.NET Core projects. The open-source and cross-platform server is lightweight and fast but missing some functionality — your best bet is to pair it with IIS, NGINX, or Apache.
Older ASP.NET applications work with Microsoft’s IIS web server platform, which functions similarly to Apache.
The Kestrel server boasts faster performance for I/O requests when compared with IIS but does not provide solutions for tasks like port sharing, easy SSL configuration, and URL rewrites.
That’s why most recommend using Kestrel with a full-service web server (like IIS, Apache, or NGINX) so it acts as a reverse proxy server.
Developers can use .NET CLI or Visual Studio to integrate Kestrel with ASP.NET Core, the .NET framework, and IIS, NGINX, or Apache according to their specific application requirements.
10. Which Hosts Support Visual Studio?
Microsoft Visual Studio is an integrated development environment, or IDE, for developers to build and debug the code supporting websites, applications, and other programs.
The platform supports 36 programming languages, including ASP.NET, and is available in both free and commercial editions.
Hosting providers that support ASP.NET and languages such as C# or Visual Basic will support web publishing via Visual Studio.
Some of our favorites include:
In addition to editing and managing files on their local machine, website owners can also use Visual Studio to edit files on a remote web server and publish using Microsoft’s Web Deploy tool.
Users can modify the server configuration settings via Plesk or the command line to turn on this functionality.
Follow these steps to enable the use of Visual Studio on Windows servers with Plesk:
- Log in to the Plesk control panel.
- Go to Tools & Settings > Updates & Upgrades > Add/Remove Components and install Microsoft Web Deploy.
- Next, go to Service Plans > [Plan Name] > Hosting Parameters > Advanced and check the box to enable Web Deploy publishing.
- Click Update & Sync to apply the changes.
- Enable the Web Deploy publishing option again by going to Domains > [Example.com] > Hosting Settings.
- In Domains > [Example.com] click Web Deploy Publishing Settings to download the configuration file.
- In your project in Visual Studio, select Build > Publish [Project Name].
- Click Import and select the Web Deploy configuration file.
- Click Validate Connection to confirm you have the correct settings.
Visual Studio ships for free on most Windows 10 distributions or can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.
Most ASP.NET and C# programming teams use Visual Studio for web application production, managed with Git for version control.
With more than 10,000 extensions for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, you can support dozens of programming languages, microservices, and workflows.
11. How Do I Get Started With ASP.NET Shared Hosting?
The easiest way to begin your ASP.NET shared hosting journey is to choose an affordable and well-equipped plan. Feel free to use our comprehensive hosting reviews to find the best option for you.
Once you sign up, the web host will take care of configuring your server space with ASP.NET. From there, you can use the Plesk control panel to upload your database and files to the server.
Plesk includes an area named Databases that makes the process relatively simple. You can also use the File Manager section, which has similar functionality for remote file management as cPanel and FTP interfaces.
Developers will either need to use FTP or a version control tool like Git to upload the website files to the server for storage.
How to move your ASP.NET website to a new host:
- Log in to Plesk and click the Databases icon in the control panel.
- Use the Add a Database function to create a unique name and password.
- Click on the Import Dump tool to transfer the MS SQL or MySQL backup file.
- Use the File Manager section to manage the website or application files.
There are many tutorials, courses, and free resources available online to learn ASP.NET development.
Take your time, and see where your learning takes you!