Hosting Your Own Website (Part 1) Introduction

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Bills bills and yet more bills. They just keep coming. And yes some all of them you most likely will need to pay. Such as your Mortgage/Rent & Utilities. But then you probably have gone threw those points in time when you strongly consider going without Cable TV, or say well it would actually be nice not to hear my damn phone ring for while. And if your like me, a world without internet, is a hell. This bill will most likely will be number 1 on your list.




But how about turning your internet connection into a profit. Or at least help you save money on your websites you may have hosted from some other company. Here I will show you how to setup a server. Test it and check to see if it can doable to replace your existing shared hosting account with your own server. Of course before we do such a thing we will need the right tools.

What We Need

  • A spare computer
  • An Operating System
  • An Internet Connection
  • Electricity
  • Location
  • A way to install the Operating System (CD, DVD, USB Drive, Network Installation, etc)

I was vary vague with my list up above. Mostly because it doesn’t have to be very specific. However I will say a few things. About the list above. Yes you can setup a server on your old Pentium 2 computer which at this point in time is pretty much just a resting place for your plants. But don’t expect it to host nice site that loads fast on everyone’s computer. In fact expect people to stop their and never return after waiting 30 minutes for a page to load. I have setup such servers in the past trust me it is not worth it.

The Computer

I have had fairly nice results with a Pentium 4 PC. The specs of the machine are listed below.

  • Pentium 4 2.44 GHz 1MB L2 Cache
  • 2GB DDR RAM 333MHz
  • 400GB IDE Hard Drive 7200 RPMS




The speed test I took where reasonable for me. However they weren’t considered to be good on the average server market. What I would recommend is the following or better.

  • Dual Core CPU 2.2 GHz 512MB L2 Cache
  • 2GB RAM
  • Hard Disk doesn’t really matter as much. I would say anything that has 7200 RPMS or better.

The Operating System

Another thing that can play strong part in the operation of your server is the Operating System. Yes you can use anything from Windows 95 to Windows 7. However it is really is frowned upon to use such systems as a server. Mainly because the Kernel itself isn’t meant for such purposes. You could install a Windows Server such as Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008. And depending on your server needs you may need to have a Windows based server. However their is a reason why approximately 87% of the websites on the web use Unix based servers.

The reason most of these sites are hosted on Unix based systems. Is because of security, and power. Windows based server are less secure. And not only that they have GUI’s. Ask any server professional fanatic, and they will tell you that having the GUI is really a waste. The graphics of the GUI alone take up valuable resources that could be used for better purposes on your server. Hence having a command line based system may not be what you prefer, but it will benefit you.

Not only this but since Windows based systems even the server based systems are closed source. Their becomes a lack of security.  This is because a security exploit may be found, and used by an attacker. On a closed source system, the only people who can release patches for such purposes are the creators of the system. So if a 100 exploits get discovered all at once for Windows based servers, and all of them get used. This requires Microsoft to come up with patches for all of those exploits as soon as possible. This means that people running Windows based servers having to be waiting anxuasly biting their nails and preying to god they don’t become the next victim of an attacker. While Microsoft creates the patches that are needed.




The best route to go with when setting up a server is using Linux OS. More specifically a Linux OS designed for server use.  The great part about this is that most Linux OSes are 100% free of charge. And all of which are free as in freedom. Which is great on your part. Since you or anyone you know can create patches or fixes as you need them. Which can speed things up a lot when it comes to security.

Internet Connection

Yes you can run a web server on a basic dial up internet connection. But really who even uses dial up anymore any way. And even if you did have it on dial up connection this means you would have one hell of phone bill, including the fact that no one will be able to call you without getting a bunch of ear piercing noises. Unless of course you had an extra phone line. Besides the websites on your server would be extremely slow.

The best route to go is getting the fastest ISP you can get, along with unlimited bandwidth and if you can a static IP Address. Most ISP companies in the US have Dynamic IP addresses. This protects internet users. Since their IP address is always changing. However it can cause a lot of complications when maintaining a server. And the really sad part is that getting Static IP address from your ISP company can be quite pricey. Their are ways however to get around having to have a static IP address for your server. I will talk about those ways later though.

Also to protect everyday internet users, ISP companies will sometimes block ports. This will prevent you from setting up a server. The nice thing is though that, most ISP companies will unblock as many ports as you request for no charge, or sometimes one time fee of just few dollars.




I have been a long time Time Warner customer. And yes they have dynamic IP addresses. But they don’t ever block any ports. They even admit that they don’t. Plus even though they have dynamic IP addresses which is a big no no in the server field. I have been monitoring my IP address for several years now. The only time it has ever changed is when I had to get a new modem. This leads me to believe that their setup for IP address relies on the modems MAC address, which of course never changes.

Electricity

You may have been raised to turn off things your not using in the attempts to save electricity. I won’t deny that this is good practice. However keep in mind that just because you may not be sitting at your server, or even logged into the your server, in a sense your still using it. This is because your website will not be on the internet any more if you turn your server off. Of course that is just obvious. So having the proper electric company comes in handy. In my case my electric company has monopoly. But it really is okay since I only get charged $0.05 per Killowatt. Of course my server that takes up the least of my electricity has a 50 watt power supply. And I have quite a few servers. One of which actually has a whopping 500 watt power supply. This is probably why I choose to spend most of my time at my place in the dark.

If your like me and your limited to the choice of only one electric company. And you really need to use less electricity. Try to get power supply that has less wattage.

Location

Believe it or not location has big part in successfully maintaining a server. In my opinion Texas is the best place to have server. The reason for this is because their power lines are underground. This means such things like a snow storm (like that will ever happen in Texas anyway). rain storm,  hurricane, or simply a tree or some object knocking down the power lines will not happen. The downside to the power lines being located underground which doesn’t really concern us as much. Is if their is a problem with the power lines. It becomes quite a big task to fix them. Because then they have to get to those lines under the ground.




If you are like me. And prefer a more of northern location. You may want to choose a location in a so called business district. This is because a business district such as a city or very well populated town with a lot of business going on, is less likely to have a power outage. And when they do, business districts usually get first priority from the electric companies. So power outages usually last for a much shorter time period then an area that has little business going on. I have lived in my current location for just about 4 years now. And had only one power outage, during a snow storm. The power outage was only for about 30 minutes.

However I have family that is not in a business area and they sometimes can go for a several hours. And on some occasions several days without power.  So you may want to put your location into consideration when having a server.

Installation

The way you install the Operating System on your server really doesn’t matter. And if you ask anyone they will most likely say it doesn’t matter as long as you get it installed and configured correctly. However I prefer the netboot option, for several reasons.

  1. Since the netboot image is stored on the on creators servers. It is always the most up to date. This means you don’t have to worry about installing updates after you just got done installing the system. Which means you can jump right into configuring the server.
  2. You don’t have to worry about not having blank optical media to burn the ISO image onto. So you can save your blank disk. It also means you don’t have to worry about your server having an optical drive on it. The same goes installing from USB drive. You don’t have to worry about finding one that doesn’t already have data on. Or about having to backup the data that already is on it.
  3. If your installing from CD/DVD or USB then it will usually have a set of packages that also are on the media. If you want a server that has certain packages that aren’t on your image then you will have to wait until after installation. When doing a netboot since all of the packages are on the server you can configure your server with all the packages you want right at installation. Saving you a lot of time in getting a fully operational server




Their are however certain things to consider when doing netboot. For one does your computers BIOS support netbooting. Another thing is does your Operating System of choice have allow you to do netbooting. A lot of Linux based systems offer netboot images. However Microsoft doesn’t. This doesn’t mean you can’t netboot a Windows system. It simply means you will have to set up a netboot server that will store the Windows ISO on it. This means a more work and time on your part.