[ glossary ]


Many businesses and individuals have reliable DSL, cable or dedicated connections in their offices. These internet connections may be used for web hosting. If you choose this setup, your site would be hosted on your own computer and you will have unrestricted access to both the files and the hardware. Most importantly, you will avoid having to pay separately for web hosting. Does this sound like a good deal? Possibly yes, but we wanted to point out some of the possible problems with this approach:
  • To begin with, some ISP's (particularly cable providers) explicitly prohibit use of their lines for web hosting. You may need to check your service terms.
  • You need to have a computer to host on. While many affordable web hosting plans don't require you to make any investment in hardware, doing things yourself also means you buy the server.
  • Reliability of your site may suffer from any of the following:
    1. Problems with your Internet connection.
    2. Power failures in your office. If you want to avoid small interruptions, you will need to buy a UPS system. (For serious blackouts they won't do.)
    3. Coffee (or other liquids) spilled on the server.
    4. Employees tripping on cables and unplugging the web server computer.
    5. Possible misconfiguration of the server.
    Not that all these things can not happen with a "professional" web hosting providers as well, but at least those guys are usually prepared to deal with the risks. For example, web hosting companies usually lease multiple Internet connections to several independent backbone providers, they often use industrial-strength power outage protection equipment, they tend to be diligent about upgrading server systems and typically colocate computers in special air-conditioned rack units a good distance away from coffee machines.
  • Security problems may arise if you are a novice user of the operating system you host on. Generally, the systems need to be patched regularly. Many web hosting providers will do this for you.
If all of that doesn't scare you and you still think the advantages of hosting in-house outweigh the disadvantages, here's a set of recommendations on getting started with the D.I.Y. hosting business:
  1. Register your domain with a domain registration company. There are many around with annual fees per domain name ranging from $10 to $35.
  2. Make sure your existing internet connection is good enough for hosting. Cable or DSL with reasonable upload speed will do, but you need to make sure that upload speeds are no less than 128 Kbps (and that's the absolute minimum, which is only appropriate for small web sites).
  3. Make sure your provider allows web hosting on your line. (Although it is often technically possible to install a web server even in those cases where the ISP prohibits such practices, we can not recommend doing it, since it may make you subject to fines, penalties and possible disconnection of service. The moral is: first make sure it's allowed, then host.)
  4. Buy (or designate) a PC which you are going to put your web site on. We will refer to this computer as your "server" from now on.
  5. Map the domain name you registered to the IP address of your server computer connected to the internet. We strongly recommend getting a "static" IP address for web hosting. For static IP, mapping is done using DNS service which you may be included with your domain registration service for some domain registration companies (e.g. http://www.register.com/ ), from your ISP, or from commercial DNS providers such as www.mydomain.com. If you are only able to use a dynamic IP, the situation is more compicated. You would need to get a dynamic DNS service from one companies like dyndns.org or tzo.com. They are able to track your IP address changes and adjust your DNS settings accordinly. Again, this is NOT recommended.
  6. Install the operating system and configure your web server. If you decide to run Linux, Check out the RedHat distribution www.redhat.com as one of the most popular ones.
  7. Create a web site and put the files on the server.
If all these steps worked out fine, you should be able to type your domain name in the URL location box and see the site. You're all set!