Can I Host My Own Website on My Computer?

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Hosting your website on a home computer is possible and relatively inexpensive. Hosting your own website requires a larger investment of time than money. On the positive side, you will have complete control over every aspect of your web presence. On the negative side, you will be responsible for all of the standard housekeeping, administrative and security functions that would be performed for you by a hosting service.

Connection

  • When hosting a website, upload speed is critical. Incoming traffic on a web server consists mostly of page requests, which are small packets of information easily handled by a broadband connection. The web server responds to a request by sending (uploading) the information on the server to the remote computer. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) base their connection speeds on the available download bandwidth. Upload speeds are generally half of the rated download. You will need at least a DSL connection to host a website that loads on a remote computer in a reasonable amount of time.

Hardware

  • A web server doesn't necessarily have to be a powerhouse computer. It simply handles file requests and sends requested pages and information. Don't use your personal computer though. When you host an Internet site, you are inviting everyone in the world to access your host computer. Any personal information located on the server will be considered fair game by hackers.

    In addition to a server computer, you will need a router to direct Internet traffic through your local network onto the web. The router should be capable of port forwarding (all http requests go through port 80) and should have physical Ethernet ports to connect to the server. Wi-Fi connections aren't as fast or reliable as hard-wired connections.

Software

  • Special web server software is necessary to set a computer up as a web host. Microsoft Internet Information Server can be downloaded free from the Microsoft website. It allows users to host websites on Windows-based PCs. Linux, Apache, MySQL and myPHP (LAMP) is another free option for web hosting software. In a LAMP installation, Linux is the base operating system, Apache functions as the web server, MySQL is the database engine and myPHP processes host PHP script requests. LAMP is available free for Ubuntu, Debian and SUSE installations as well as commercial Linux releases like Red Hat.

Address

  • You will need to register a domain name, like myhomedomain.com, so visitors can locate your server. There is a small fee associated with this. Domain registrars offer a variety of services for a variety of prices. Once the domain name is registered, you will have to submit it to a DNS server. Unlike domain registration, this step is available as a free service from some organizations. The last portion of your address to consider is whether you have a static or dynamic IP address. A static IP address never changes. This makes it easier for the DNS servers to keep track of your website and is required by some e-commerce applications. Dynamic IP addresses change periodically. Most ISPs have an additional charge for static IP addresses.

References

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