Introduction


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 the Internet. 

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 money.

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.



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