Hosting (From Home) for Fun and Profit: Prerequisites, Hardware, and Network
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Many people believe that web hosting is a job only for large companies with huge server banks and dedicated service and technical personnel. However, this is not the case. Current broadband internet connections combined with most baseline desktop computer systems are more than capable of running one or several personal or test websites.
Running your own webserver can be useful in many ways. First of all, it gives you, the owner and administrator, full control over all aspects of your hosting environment. When you rent hosting space from a company, there may be certain aspects of the server, especially those on a global operating system level, that are beyond your control and are not likely to be easily changed to accommodate a need you may have. Secondly, you are combining the cost of your home broadband connection with whatever costs you may have been paying already for hosting. Thirdly, it helps you gain experience with and understanding of the difficulties and duties involved in webserver administration and server administration in general. This is great for anyone involved in web software development as you will gain knowledge of another aspect of web software that may not be totally familiar to you.
Another common misconception is that a single webserver can only host one domain name. However, both Apache and IIS have the capability through a mechanism called virtual hosts to host multiple domain names on a single server machine with only one IP address.
The main disadvantage inherent in running a home webserver lies in the fact that you will most likely not be using enterprise class hardware, nor do you have a huge bandwidth pipe that can handle huge amounts of traffic. In general, home webserving should not be used for any mission critical business sites (probably not any business sites), and any site that gets large amounts of traffic. What constitutes too much traffic for a broadband connection will be determined by the type of site you are hosting, the type of server you are running, and the amount of bandwidth you have available on your home connection. ISPís also donít generally give residential connections the same priority as business connections when it comes to restoring outages and fixing other problems. Also, most people do not have the resources to run servers with the absolute minimum downtime like large hosting providers do. Updating a server may require a restart, and thus, some small downtime (not much, and it may not even effect any end users if the site doesnít get constant traffic), however, hosting providers have multiple servers which allows them to move some sites temporarily to allow them no-downtime planned updates.
However, even given all of these possible downsides, the upsides of total control and management, reduced costs, and the knowledge you will gain, make this in general a profitable experience. This article will cover some of the basic concerns when beginning the process of setting up a webserver. One notable thing that I will not cover is specific software concerns, they will be addressed in a separate article given those issues complexity.
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