Hosting (From Home) for Fun and Profit: Prerequisites, Hardware, and Network - Hardware
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The first thing you will need to do is find a computer that will act as your server. This could be anything from a Pentium 2 with 64 megabytes of RAM to a dual CPU Xeon with 2 gigabytes of RAM, depending on how much active content and how much traffic your server will get. For example, if your server will mostly be serving static pages with little or no active (scripted) content, few images, and relatively low traffic, a system on the low end of this spectrum will be sufficient (Pentium II or III with 128 to 256 megabytes of RAM). However, if you want to serve multiple domains with a lot of database and active or scripted content you will want a faster server (not necessarily the dual Xeon mentioned above, but definitely Pentium III or IV with 256-512 megabytes of RAM).
Another important aspect to decide early is how much hard drive space the intended applications will require. If you want to run an FTP server for you and your friends to swap MP3 and movie files, youíll want a large amount of hard drive space.
The next piece of hardware thatís important is some sort of hardware router to allow multiple computers to share the same internet connection. This can take the form of a Linksys or Netgear all-in-one router/firewall (or something similar). If you choose to use something like this, itís important to make sure that the router has Network Address Translation and a built in firewall along with port pass-through so that you can allow certain types of traffic through to your server while disallowing others. This is the type of setup I would suggest as these routers allow for easy set-up and administration.
Another way to share a network connection is by setting up a computer with at least two network cards to act as a router. In this setup the computer does the work of translating packets from the outside broadband network interface to the internal local network interface. Both Windows and most Linux distributions come with built in software accomplish this on a computer equipped with multiple network cards. You can also increase security on your network by adding a firewall to this system. This set up is best if you have an old unused computer laying around, as a computer acting as a router does not need very much computer power.
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