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  • Hosting your own web server

    Right now I'm working on a couple websites (for myself and a few others), so I've been looking around a lot for web hosts. there's tons of hosts out there, but I keep finding that almost all of them are missing a feature I want/need, are too expensive, etc etc. Eventually, I came up with the idea that maybe I could just host my own server, so I started searching for info. it turns out that it's not going to be as hard as I thought it might to set one up for myself, all that's really needed for a server is:
    1. A computer, any kind will do (Linux/Unix, Mac, Windows, as long as they've got the necessary hosting software, like Apache, IIS etc.) it doesn't need to be a very expensive computer, all that's needed are the basics (CPU/Motherboard, Ram, network card, CDrom, Hard drive)
    2. a High speed connection like Cable or DSL, but you're going to need a static IP address, and a lot of bandwidth.
    3. a Domain name pointing to your IP address.
    once you have all these basics, then you need to get into all the configuration, like installing support for things like PHP, MySQL, anything like that which you're going to be needing for your sites. for operating system, I'm going to be using Linux (Mandrake 9.0) since I've found it extremely stable, plus the unix family is the native OS of Apache which is used by the majority of hosts out on the net right now. the one problem with using Linux or equivilent is it can be a pretty big pain to configure if you don't know a whole lot about it, since you will at some point have to use command line, there's not a whole lot of "wizards" like all the windows and mac folks are used to (although it is getting better)
    This worked out well for timing for me, since I want get the experience of rebuilding a computer anyway, and I just found out that my dad's got an old 486 which he's let me gut and salvage the case, I also realized that I can get all the parts I'm going to need for around $250 cdn.
    has anybody else around here ever done anything like this?
    I'll keep you all updated on how this goes..

    - David

  • #2
    In a word: don't. Unless the experience and knowledge you gain is more important than the content of any of the sites. The fastest home connection would never be sufficient for a popular site, and the security risks could actually endanger the computer you use and any other networked computers.

    A safer option is leasing a dedicated non-managed server. You'd still do all maintenance and administering, only from a professional location.

    But, if hosting is the end, and the websites hosted merely the means, I know several people that do exactly what you've described, and enjoy it.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

    Comment


    • #3
      Personal hosting

      Doug is right...alot of work and for a commercial type site, you definitely would need the bandwidth to support.

      On the other hand, the knowledge and expertise in learning how to do that is very helpful, (in my opinion, but then, I'm a geek when it comes to that stuff anyhow).

      I've got my own Personal/Family website hosted at home. Running on some older Pentium II boxes. IIS and SQL Server are some other parts/apps I'm using. I've got DSL at home and being just about across the street from Pacbell, have close to T1 speeds there, (so even accessing photos isn't a problem).

      Anyhow, I've also got a hardware firewall type box as well as a software firewall app in place.

      It does make things easier when it comes to making changes, etc, but for anything that I would like to have a business on, I will most likely do the hosting elsewhere.

      Getting the IP address and setting the correct pointers at my Domain name registration site (www.register.com) was pretty simple. And I have recently figured out how to use IIS and Host Header Names to use one IP address to point to multiple Domain Websites hosted by myself.

      Anyhow, if I can help, I'll keep an eye out here. Feel free to ask away.

      Comment


      • #4
        hmm, sounds like this one's gonna take some more research! thanks for the advice Doug, I hadn't heard about the non managed dedicated server option, I never even look at the dedicated section of host sites since I automatically think of regular dedicated service which is way to costly for me. I do realize the fact that broadband simply isn't fast enough to handle a lot of traffic, but the sites I'm putting up are just personal (portfolio etc.) and family, so that shouldn't be too big a deal. Security is definitely my biggest worry, but I'm good about keeping everything updated and applying patches, and I'm thinking it might be a good idea to get a hardware firewall to get behing my router. a big part of doing this is just for experience, if any of my sites start getting too much traffic for my line to handle, then I'll just figure out where to go from there. I should mentioned this in my original post, if you're planning on creating a very big site which is going to be high traffic, then avoid going from home (unless of course you've got high speed servers and an OC3 connection in your home )

        - David

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        • #5
          Jeffrey - oops, it looks like I was typing out my other reply when you posted, but thanks for the info and the offer of help, and I'll probably be asking questions about the domain stuff when I actually get the thing set up in the next couple week.

          - David

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          • #6
            David,

            I can't remember if you have a cable or DSL connection, but you should look into the "fine print" of your contract with your ISP to make sure that you are allowed to have a server on their internet service. My brother lives in CA and chose a high-end DSL connection b/c he wanted to host a server and discovered that a lower-cost DSL connection as well as cable connection would NOT allow him to host a server on one of his machines.

            Jeanie

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            • #7
              yup, I did notice that, I'm going to have to switch providers, but it's only $15 a month more so it's not that bad, plus it gives me more bandwidth. (I'm on DSL)

              - David

              Comment


              • #8
                Sounds like you would learn a lot from doing it David...but you might pull all your hair out as well! Linux is a great choice for the server. I played around with Red Hat the other day and loved how stable it was compared to Windows.

                One thing to consider- If you can't get a static IP from your ISP, there are services that will redirect traffic to your dynamic IP address. Tech TV has a good article here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good for you David. That sounds like a good project and it will be good experience for you. The new editions of Linux, Redhat 8.x or Mandrake 9.x are a good place to start. These new versions are much more user friendly than previous versions. Most of the set up is done from GUI menus now instead of the old shell script programming method. If you have time and energy to learn Linux the OS is free for download. The only thing you get with buying the OS is tech support, which you may or not think will be of benefit to you. There are tons of sites with help and documentation. If you know anything about programming with "C" you'll be right at home. If you are good at writing C shell scripts you can make a Linus box dance. But the new GUI menus make this not necessary any more.

                  One thing to consider on the hardware is how many concurrent users you will be expecting. For each visitor viewing a page on your site opens up a new session on the server. This can be CPU and RAM intensive because the server is multitasking. Linux handles this well but you might take this into consideration when deciding on hardware for the server. Highspeed processors are not as important as the amount of RAM and the speed of the harddrives. I would think a P-III, Duron, or Cellron processor would be OK for a linux server.

                  Hardware firewalls are no help for protecting a Web server. The very traffic that can attack you is what you will have to allow through the firewall so that your users can access your Web server. The firewall will shield your home network from internet traffic but be little help protecting your Web server. Linux has all you will need for restricting access to your Web server. Until recently my Linux server was my firewall and router. Of course I didn't allow any connections to my server at all from the internet.

                  Along those same lines, be sure that you do not have the Web server directly on your home network without protection. You will need a firewall between the Web server and your home network. You can use the Linux server to do this but you will need 2 network cards and set Linux to route between the cards with IP forwarding and IP spoofing setup ( IE a firewall). If they can see your server they could also see your network and you could be attacked if you don't take precautions.

                  I'm be interested in your progress. I just obtained a new box to replace my old linux server and I will also be experimenting with my own hosting. So get out there and blaze a trail for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Greg - interesting to hear about the dynamic IP domain service, that's definitely something to consider, however I'll still probably have to switch hosts since my current package at my host (Telus) doesn't allow webhosting.

                    Kevin - I just finished downloading the ISO's for mandrake 9.0, I have the release candidate 2 loaded right now for my dual boot and I like it a lot. I tried out the new Red hat before I loaded Mandrake 9, but I like mandrake better, I was having problems in red hat accessing my Windows partitions, but that was probably due to my lack of Linux knowledge (in mandrake it's automatically set up so it mounts all of the partions). I know pretty much nothing about C, so I'm glad for any work they've done on menus, which mandrake has done some excellent work on IMO. I probably won't have a lot of users at the same time accessing my server, so I'm hoping what I'm going to start out with will be OK for a while anyway (I'm getting a Duron 1400+ with 256 MB pc2100 DDR ram, and putting in one of my two 40 GB 7200 rpm drives)
                    Linux is well known for it's security, so as long as I keep everything updated and use a high security setting (it can be set at installation or the control panel) I'm hoping it'll be fine. I haven't got any network up yet, but I'm going to try to use the server as my firewall when I do (the motherboard I'm getting has built in LAN, and I'll get a second one since they cost next to nothing) and I'll hook up the d-link 4 port broadband router I've got up to that so I can get my connection shared. it does have built in firewall, and I always have my software one running (Sygate) on my main computer. thanks for all the info!

                    - David

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                    • #11
                      I built my own Linux Web server about 4 years back. A 100MHz P1 with 32MB RAM and a 6GB IDE disk. It still runs RH 6.0 with Apache 1.3.1. It's never been down, though the fan is a bit noisy now. I use it as a departmental Web server and as a source of Web-based coursework for my students. At peak usage it gets hit with somewhere in the region of 5k requests per minute and no-one has ever complained about slow access. I think if you go with an m$ server, you're going to need much more horsepower for the same throughput because of the overheads associated with Windows.

                      Of course, I'm fortunate in that the university I work for is the ISP.

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                      • #12
                        wow, that's a very impressive run time! what kind of internet connection is the server on?

                        - David

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                        • #13
                          My lab has 100Mb/s ethernet, but the link to the rest of the university is thru fibre optic ATM - I'm not sure of the speed. Out from the university to the wire provider is a very-very fat pipe - not sure of that speed either.

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                          • #14
                            Looks like you have everything well on its way David. I haven't downloaded the newest Mandrake yet but I plan on it this weekend.

                            My problem on hosting a site at my house is that I can't get DSL. My house is too far from the Bell Central office. I have to be content with COX cable modem for now. My ISP wouldn't let me run a Web server without changing me more per month for my connection. So my Web server will probably just be a intranet server for now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Echoing the thoughts of others David, I would say that unless you are expecting more than 5 people on your site at once, with the most basic of requests then the answer is to go with the proffesional host.

                              Comment

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