Skip Navigation | Groups

This site uses cookies- for more information see the Cookie Policy | Continue

 

Self Hosting a web site

Things to consider when self hosting a web site


When deciding whether to host a website on your own PC or server, or to use a commercial host several things have to be considered:

  • Are external users (not directly connected to your LAN) permitted to view the pages? If yes:
    • Does your ISP's Terms and Conditions allow you to run a web server with external connections?
      • If the TandC forbid running a webserver, then there is no point in continuing - unless you can change to a different package, such as a business connection.
    • Do you have a static IP address?
      • A static IP address is required so that visitors can easily find the server. The only alternative is to use a Dynamic DNS (ddns) service such as DynDNS
    • Is your Upload Connection Speed sufficient to serve pages and media at a reasonable rate? For how many simultaneous users?
      • A typical ADSL connection may only have 50Kbps bandwidth for uploading - this will make serving pages and media very slow compared with most commercial  web hosts. Remember web pages you serve are UPLOADED to visitors - you download pages from other websites.
    • Do you have bandwidth limits on your Internet Connection?
      • A webserver can eat through a 10GB/month bandwidth limit in very little time, extra bandwidth can be expensive. Both uploading and downloading count towards bandwidth usage.
      • If there is a "Fair Use" policy in place, your connection speed (both upload and download) may be cut significantly.
  • Is the Web Server on a PC dedicated to that purpose? If not:
    • Requests for pages by web site users may hog resources you need for your own work.
    • Your own work may hog resources required by the web server.
  • Which Operating System does the Web Server use?
    • Windows XP Home
      • Will not run a Microsoft web server
    • Windows XP Pro
      •  Limited to one web site on IIS 5.1
      • Limited to 10 simultaneous connections - note that a single browser can make more than 10 simultaneous connections to a web server, connections are not the same as users.
    • Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate
      • Runs IIS 7.5
      • No connection limits
    • Windows Server 2003
      • No limits
      • Runs IIS 6
    • Windows Server 2008 (and Server 2008 R2)
      • No Limits
      • Runs IIS 7 (IIS 7.5 on Server 2008 R2)
    • Windows Home Server (WHS V1, not WHS 2011) can also be used to run a web site. The website will be a virtual folder as part of the default web site. The URL can be set up using WHS in the form http://username.homeserver.com/websitefolder where "username" is your choice of a name, and "websiteFolder" is where your website files are stored. homeserver.com provides the ddns service. The whiist home-server addin is used to manage the site in WHS.
    • WHS 2011 is much trickier to set up, but can still be used.
  • Does the website use Forms or is there any other requirement for server side scripting? If yes:
    • All the above systems (except Windows XP Home) support asp.NET and PHP, but these must be installed and configured.
    • If the website will provide a contact form, then an email server (or access to one) will be required. Some (perhaps most) ISPs will not allow a residential customer to run a mail server - again a different broadband package may be required.
    • Is https (secure access) to the site needed? A Security Certificate must be purchased and installed.
    • Is Credit Card processing required? Talk with your bankers about using other resources for accepting payments, such as WorldPay, PayPal and so on. The security requirements for processing credit cards are daunting.
  • Does the webserver have effective Anti-Virus and Anti Malware protection?
    • You have to protect against hackers and crackers as well as all the usual trojans and virii. AV software can be expensive for a server - low cost or free AV software usually does not run on a server OS.

The easiest way to install a webserver is to use the Microsoft Web Platform Installer. This can be used to install the correct version of IIS for the operating system, and other applications as well, such as PHP, blog and gallery applications and so on. The Web Platform Installer can be obtained from http://www.microsoft.com/web/downloads/platform.aspx