With the explosion of the
Internet, it seems like everybody has a homepage, website, or dot com.
However, most people locate their homepages on the free webpage services
such as Geocities which are very convenient but also have drawbacks. The
first drawback is the lack of space. Most free services will limit the
amount of storage space you can use which will pose a problem if you plan
on having multimedia contents such as audio and video clips. Another drawback,
which I find very annoying, is that all of the free webpage services require
you to place their banner ads on each page of your website. Some
sites implant an advertising menu bar on your website instead of banners,
which isn't much better. Even worse is the trend toward pop up ads.
The final and most important drawback of these services is that they have
domain names that are difficult to remember and find. Here is a sample
site so you can see what the banner ads look like:
For people who have larger websites
with their own domain names, most pay webhosting services to run their
website. Basic packages run around $20 a month for 25 megabytes of disk
space and 1-2 gigabytes of transfers per month. For businesses, these web
hosts are important because they make regular backups and their servers
are regularly maintained with good uptime and redundant connections to
For businesses that DEPEND
on their website for productivity and income, I strongly recommend that
you DO NOT attempt to run your own webserver on a DSL or cable connection.
Even with a great connection and good hardware/software, you cannot compete
with professional webhosts in terms of reliability and uptime. If something
goes wrong with your website, YOU will be responsible for fixing the problem
and dealing with all the headaches of troubleshooting. The professional
web hosts have technicians on hand to oversee these problems.
This is not to say that professional
webhosts are a perfect solution. You will still get downtime with
a professional host whether it be a few minute or a few hours at a time.
I've used several different paid webhosts and with each one I've experienced
downtime. It's just a fact of the business - downtime is inevitable.
The better hosts have less down time, but this also means they cost more
Another thing you should
know about paid webhosts is that unless you pay for a dedicated server
($200-$300 a month), your website will reside on a server that has hundreds
to thousands of other websites on it. This is usually called "virtual
hosting". This allows a webhost to save money on hardware and software
costs. For most situations, putting several websites on one server
is okay, but problems arise when the webhost gets cheap and overloads the
server with way too many websites. This is not uncommon in the cut-throat
webhosting world. This means that your website WILL slow down tremendously
if another website on the same server gets really busy. If you run
your own server at home, you get the advantage that all the cpu power is
dedicated to your own sites, not somebody else's site.
Okay then, so who should
run their own webservers? This question is easy. People who want complete
control over a website (hardware and software) but need more than what
the free services can provide but don't want to pay a web host money. This
rules out most business websites but leaves the whole spectrum of "special
interest" website where downtime once in a while isn't a life or death
situation. With your own server, you can add as much hard disk space as
you want and dedicate all your bandwidth to your website.
Assuming you fall into the
latter group, let's get started. Now mind you, how I did it is not the
only way, nor the best way, but just happens to work for me. Your situation
may require you to set things up differently. I am only giving you my experience
as an example, not the gold standard.