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Running A Server Off Your Own Computer

 3:23 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok, I know how to install apache, mysql, php, phpMyAdmin on my computer so that I can test out scripts on my own computer. Now, I have enough money to buy a seperate computer to be runned only as a server, how/where/what kind of computer do I buy where I can run websites off my own computer. I've spent enough money on renting ded. servers and buying hosting to buy about 3 new computers by now, so getting my own server would be great.



 4:49 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would highly recommend that you continue to pay the money for a dedicated server if you can afford it since the benefits can often outweigh having to manage your own hardware.

With a dedicated server, they manage the backups for you. If something isn't working right THEY troubleshoot it. If there is a hardware failure or the machine goes down, THEY fix or replace it at their expense. If data was lost they restore your backups. Unless you're in the datacenter business I always recommend offloading your hosting needs to a company that knows what they're doing instead of doing it yourself. Sure I'm probably paying more for my "managed" solution than if I bought all of the equipment myself, but I have a business to run and maintaining servers in a remote location isn't part of my agenda.

If it's your hardware, you're responsible. If a hard drive goes out it's your responsibility to replace it, restore the backup, etc. If the machine goes down it's up to you to replace it - are you going to have replacement hardware on-site like a data center would?

Maybe you've spent enough money to have paid for 3 servers by now, but it's kinda like having insurance. Sometimes it's better to "throw money away" and not have to worry about something than to take on extra responsibilities and/or headaches to save a buck.

If you still insist on running your own server, check out eBay for the best deals. What type of hardware you need will be relevant to what you're doing - if you're just running a web server and basic services pretty much anything over 700 Mhz will do the job. If you plan on adding SQL and other more complex applications, get the best you can afford and add as much RAM as the system will take.


 5:45 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Although I'm new to the "dedicated" server side of things - I had a similar post a week or two ago where people gave some good advice [host your own] / [using a hosting company].

For what it's worth - I found the costs to be very similar in price. If I decided to build my own and colo-host it somewhere - I would "rent" the rack space and pay for bandwidth - which easily gets into the $300+/mo. range w/NO backups. If I were to build my own and host it in my home office I would need to pay for a faster connection (faster upload) which got into the $300+/mo range...just for the connection... NO backups. Although I have 5MB/s download... my upload is only 500kbs.

Also, no matter if I did colo or host in my office... I would have to be around ALL the time...ie. NO VACATION! Cause if I took off for the weekend and something failed on the server... I could lose potentially thousands of dollars! I just wouldn't want that looming over my head! Paying a little extra each month is totally worth my sanity and being able to take weekends off if I want to .... as well as get out of town for a vacation.

Another thing that came to mind was if I hosted on my own...and the power went out! Now, when I did my post - get this - the power went out here for 9 hours! I would be very upset if our sites were down for 9 hours due to a power outage.

For the little saved per month hosting on my own or colo-hosting - bottom line, with my sites, I just can't afford downtime like that.

With using a dedicated hosting company you get (usually):
- redundant battery backups
- diesel power generators
- security
- 1-2 hour hardware repair/replacement
- redundant networks
- backups
- etc.

Of course - it all depends on how "critical" you consider your sites. If they bring in revenue - then you may want to consider staying with a hosting company.

Again, I'm not an expert - I just recently went through all the decisions... I decided to go with a dedicated hosting company - I'll let you know how it goes ;-)


 11:16 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Host your own means do your own security....can you keep up with the world and its dog and their neighbour who wants to break in just to see if they can..?


 4:15 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I never thought about power outages that much, but if there was, I could move my sites to a friend's ded. server for awhile, I'm not doing hosting or anything, I'm just running a few sites. Updating php versions, apache downloads etc. I can handle, if I go through with buying a server, I'll have all the help here, and I'll buy whm. I really just want to find out, how do I get a server that is connected to the web.

By the way, I don't make much from my sites, a few hundred a month is all, I use my other jobs to pay for ded., scripts like vbulletin, etc. Money doesn't mean much to me, I just enjoy running my site, and I think my own server would save me lots of money over the next few years.


 4:40 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you lose power, how will you upload your sites to your friend's server? You need a back-up there before you lose power.

If you lose your connection, same thing. Data centers usually have several connections, so if one company has a problem, they are not in trouble. They also have back-up power.

Look at the cost of bandwidth, and installing a dedicated connection. Just the cost of getting the fiber to your home can be more than the cost of several computers.

Not to mention administration. At every step of the way, big hosts have economies of scale you just can't compete with. It's getting completely commoditized, and you can now rent a server for less than USD$60/month. You can also get a virtual server for much, much less.

You're not just renting the server: you are renting facilities, 24/7 administrators, redundant power supplies and net connections.

Rather than saving money on a commodity, you could be trying to increase your revenues from your site. For the same effort you'll get much better results.


 4:44 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

listen to this man ..he's trying to save you future greif .


 4:48 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

What you guys are suggesting may very well be overkill for this situation.

If these site are not really a business, I may be just fine if they are down during a power outage.

For starters, look into providers of broadband in your area, such as DSL or Cable Modems. You may already have this. It works best if you sign up for a plan which officially allows you to have a server. Many residential plan don't allow servers, although many don't technically block them. You should also probably two or more static IP addresses. You need a static IP for a server. You would also of course still want to be able to access the internet from your own PC, which is why I say two IP addresses.

Is that the type of information you are seeking?


 4:51 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think my own server would save me lots of money over the next few years.

It depends. I've done shared, dedicated, co-located and self-hosted over the years. For my "day job" we hired a high-end company to host our dedicated server for us, and it's several thousand a month. But they handle it all, disaster recovery. security and so on.

For my own sites (my "other life"), I run my own servers (web, DNS, email and so forth). it's a bit more work, but it does give me a thorough understanding of what's going on in the world of servers. There have been many times where I have given my professional hosting company at work a heads up because of what i learned while managing my own servers.

Nothing beats the experience of having to actually run servers in the real world with real applications and real data. But i would not do it for a "significant" ecommerce site. Anything making over a couple of thouand a month needs a professional hosting solution.


 9:17 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Indeed I am not for getting your own

but enough about that :)

Please do not use for example a regular cable modem connection
many tried that route and quite sooner than later the ISP will get you
they really do not like people using their cable for server purposes


 5:02 am on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am glad to hear so much reasons why not to get a server, but peterdaly's post is really what I was looking for. Remember, I'm not running a big ecommerce site, I get a few hundred a month, but I don't rely on it for anything, just some extra spending cash. I think I have about all the info I have been looking for, I probably won't be running a server off the same connection as my normal computer if I get one, and as far as backups and security go, I'm not too worried, if I get a server, it will be in a few months, right now I'm trying to get the basic idea of what i need to buy and how much it will cost, thank you for all the help.


 2:13 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Congrats brendan3eb. The decision is monumental. There is nothing like having the total control over your own server. You are no longer at the mercy and whims of the hosting companies.

Backups - no big deal if you have a simple system in place. It is also no biggie if your site doesn't generate data other than log files. I have about 10 domains I've not backed up in -- oh -- a couple of years. I have no doubt that what is one my disk matches what is on the site (logs are auto emailed to me daily).

I wish I could make the decision for webmasterworld. The problem is the cost of bandwidth and connection reliability. To run a big fat pipe into the office - it would be $3-4 grand a month to handle the burstable loads. Even at those prices, I have run a spreadsheet on the idea a couple dozen times trying to make it work. That is comparing to boxes running about $1000 a month in lease/bandwidth fees.

In 12 months of dual lines off our current office isp (time warner) we have been down about 3 hours total. That's risky business if you have a busy site.

That all said, we still run some sites and are ramping up to run more sites off of an office box. When you consider you can get a pretty fat pipe from the cable companies (4-8mbs) for a couple hundred a month, it is very attractive.

The box:

A week ago I bought a new box for myself. It was a 2.8p4, 1gig dual channel ram, 200gig drive, agp video, 19inch crt. By the time it was home in a case, it was just under a thousand. This will run a server very well. The only addition I feel I would make for a server box, would be to pump up the ram to 3gig and run the whole shabang out of a ram disk (hd writes). That would triple the real world performance numbers (disk io is always the bottle neck of a busy site). Some would say to go SCSI, but for a home spun box, the extra cost of the setup is not warranted.

If you aren't expectating much load, you could get by with a much cheaper box and smaller hard drive. A $500-$600 special (get at least a gig of ram) at Bestbuy. I think it all depends on the types of pages you are going to serve up.

btw: UPS's are now so dirt cheap, that you can buy a backup UPS for your backup UPS for just a few hundred or even less. It's not the 3 hr brownout you are worried about, it is the flickers that will leave it dead in the water till a reboot. I outfitted our mission critical servers at the office for $300 in ups. That's good for about 30mins for us.

The real perk starts when you install the OS and a server. There is nothing like the convenient ease of having the box with in arms length.

I think setups like you are proposing are best viewed as site incubators. It is where all the developmental work can take place. When the site outgrows it's box and is paying it's own way, then it is time to move to a trusted host.


 2:42 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess both views are valid, but I also think you are aware now of the problems that will occur.

we have all variations: servers in the office via a 2MBit line (mail and development), rented and colocated machines. All 100% Linux.

If you sit next to the box, make sure it is silent and has SPACE on the drives, coz you will tend to use it much faster then the space on your hosted machines.

my setup here: dual Opteron with 2 gig of ram and suse 9.1 for 64 bit. I bought a SATA raid board and got 4 120 gig drives as a raid 0 array of 480 Gig and an external box with 150 gigs for backups via USB. every night the new files are copied to the external drive.

THIS IS LOUD! I cant even hear my air conditioning :-) Soon that box will move into the basement, when the cabeling is done.

Nevertheless: sitting here with 2MBit on the desktop is nice. Germany took a while like it was that easy and affordable...

my 2 pennies,


 3:32 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it really depends on how confident/technical you are with the host OS which you are going to run.

I would suggest running co-lo over running it on your own connection, since you will have redundant network connections, and power supplies. At home, UPS is reasonably cheap, but setting up multiple redundant internet connections can be a bit of a pain, as well as expensive.

Co-lo will save you money (probably), but you have to lock it down as much as possible. If you aren't that technical, or aren't that interested in learning how to do that, then managed is probably the best solution for you.

Don't underestimate the time which running co-lo could cost you, if you can't script everything away..

To put numbers on spec depends on the operating system which you are going to be using. Win 2003 server = as much hardware as you can afford to throw at it, Linux etc, not so much.



 4:22 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bandwidth, backup power and reliability are some of the biggest issues. Most DSL or Cable connections don't allow you to host servers. A T1 to your house is expensive, and still isn't anywhere near as fast as the 10-100 mbps connections you have on a dedicated server. I lose power here at the house at least once a month. Once it was for three days. I've found most home connections to be far less reliable than I would like for a server.

Dedicated servers can be cheap ($100/month) if you shop around. That wouldn't even cover the bandwidth for an in-home server.


 4:32 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

My broadband speed is only 512k and I am hosting several of my own sites on a old PIII server. The upstream speed is only 256k too, but it only gets slow when my visitor goes up to more than 200-300 per day.

If redundacy and speed is of concern, you can go for those multi-wan port routers currently available like the EDIMAX BR-6541. 2 x speed, failover in case of failure on one link.

I'm running my server on dynamic ip because it is still quite costly to have a static ip here. Just need a regular updater and a registrar that supports dynamic updates like enom and namecheap.

And the problem that I faced getting cheaper host here is because of high cost of bandwidth and I have ASP pages requiring Windows hosts. Plus my web mail is running on squirrelmail which requires PHP which some Windows hosting does not supports further reducing my options. Some hosts just cannot get the frontpage extension working, I don't know why.

Thus having my own server it would be easier as I can add the additional modules without these issues.

My main site is hosted because it is taking too much hits and it slows down the rest of the sites.


 4:46 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Most DSL or Cable connections don't allow you to
>host servers. A T1 to your house is expensive,

Timewarner/RoadRunner and other cable/dsl companies have business class service to anywhere at anytime. If they have the big pipe to the neighborhood, they will sell you anything they can.

4mbps down, 768 up = $129 a month for us. (static ip was like $10 more a month)

That is enough to run a pretty good sized site. That equates to about a realworld 50-60k bytes per second (or one page per second to second and a half. Real world, a server could do 30-40 requests a minute).


 5:37 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've really looked into the cost and at the moment I'm sticking with ded. servers, its less work, safer, I only pay $120/month for a celeron with 1200 GB Bandwith, and the amount of work it would take to setup a server is frightening. Maybe a year from now, the prospect will become more of a reality.

If I do get a server, I'll probably get a few, and run them outside of the house, probably rent a place in southern Illinois, I'm not sure if chicago is quite safe.


 5:39 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've really looked into the cost and at the moment I'm sticking with ded. servers, its less work, safer

Please report back in a few months, after you've been screwed by half a dozen hosting companies...


 6:35 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a system administrator, believe me, when I say the thrill of running your own server, were's off quicker than the 'new car smell'

The trick is finding a good ISP to host. We deal with Aliant 'which is the phone company' in Atlantic Canada.

We have had only a few minutes of down time for the last year, and considering they have been on strike for the last four months, this is remarkable service.


 6:45 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

> and the amount of work it would take to setup a server is frightening

And you should be doing that work for inhouse developement anyway. It will cut your dev time by multiples. It cracks the "tweak and upload" syndrom time to "tweak, alt-tab, press f5" (especially running dynamic stuff like you want).

At a min:
- install apache and get friendly with httpd.conf
- install php.
- the discover the joys of hosts file swapping (get "www.yourdomain.com working locally in the browser but pulling the pages from you local server).

The real problem starts when you get a fast pipe and you don't know if you are working locally or on the actual site. I finally had to put a big red background on WebmasterWorld that only shows if I am working off the local box.

> after you've been screwed by half a dozen hosting companies...

here-here rich - that's the biggest motivator.


 8:02 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Timewarner/RoadRunner and other cable/dsl companies have business class service to anywhere at anytime. If they have the big pipe to the neighborhood, they will sell you anything they can.

4mbps down, 768 up = $129 a month for us. (static ip was like $10 more a month)

The key is that it's COMMERCIAL. Residential cable/DSL (which most people have) doesn't allow servers. Still, 768 kbps up (and up is the important part for a server) is only half of T1 speed and a fraction of the 10-100 mbps that you get with a hosted server.

I don't know how commercial cable/DSL is, but I suspect that it's as unreliable as residential. When I had residential cable (for a couple years), I regularly had 15-60 minute outages about once a week and 4-48 hour outages about once a month.

I just can't see paying that much for a connection when you can get a dedicated server for the same or less.


 8:18 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if chicago is quite safe.

Chicago is actually an excellent place to colo a server. You should check out <snip>. The quality of the bandwidth, security, etc... is about as good as you are going to get until you are in a position to consider buying your own cabinets.

[edited by: rogerd at 9:18 pm (utc) on July 15, 2004]
[edit reason] removed hosting provider name [/edit]


 9:00 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I ran my sites with one of the most expensive hosting firms on earth.

Customer support was stunning. Every ticket opened within two minutes, responded to within 10 minutes, resolved without any delay, this is REAL dedication. There was a human on the line with EVERY single phone call right away, NEVER ON HOLD! And: they got to work right then on the spot.

It all had it's price but I had total control of the server and they managed their network and boxes excellently.

Playing a bit with the thought of feeding my learning curve I used some excess money to buy a Dell server that was a neat box, way outperforming the box I had with that host.

Now, I took some 2 years to try EVERYTHING within that "risk-free" environment and learnt a lot. My cost was up to 800 bucks a month including all bells and whistles a host could offer.

With the knowledge I obtained though I felt comfortable not to run the server from my home BUT to move into a data center and get myself connected to the fastest European backbone (Level3) for just €49 a month.

Now I run the show and am happy as can be. Still: if something should happen, I got those pro's behind the whole thing that could jump in any second FOR A FEE of course.

So far I didn't need them for anything but if: I am covered, still saving all the money and re-invest more heavily in new sites, freelancers and features.


 9:46 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

> commercial

Doesn't matter - if they have the pipe to the neighborhood, they will sell you the biz class service.
2 Mbps384 Kbps$79.95***
1.5 Mbps768 Kbps$175.00
3 Mbps768 Kbps$225.00
1.5 Mbps1.5 Mbps$350.00
3 Mbps1.5 Mbps$425.00
4 Mbps2 Mbps$500.00

They offer deep discounts (60-80%) off those rates for a year or more contract.

The nice thing is that it is biz class service (your own service rep 24x7 and they respond almost instantly to any outages).

> but I suspect that it's as unreliable as residential.

Ours has been off for maint a total of 3 hrs in the last year. WebmasterWorld has been down about 5 hrs in the last year.

I still wouldn't do anything important on it, but it is great for developmental work, where going with a colo or dedicated box just sucks.


 10:00 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

If it's a small site and you want the flexibility without the cost of a dedicated server - look into linux virtual server hosting.

You have total control over / root access to your "virtual" server (can even start a remote X windows session, etc). It's like having your own box for $19 / month (with a bit of performance hit).

With Linux the difference between local and remote is pretty academic anyways.

The trick is finding a good ISP to host.

Or a couple marginal ones. I've found happiness using third party dynamic DNS and two different OK providers. When one goes down - I just switch over to other

I've even setup monitoring to switch providers for my if I'm not around / sleeping. I love being able to go out hiking and not worrying about if my site crashes.


 10:17 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>WebmasterWorld has been down about 5 hrs in the last year.

Brett, I think that sums it up....nice job.

For me, 5 hours of down time = $3,000

So how do you make the decision?

If you can tolerate 5 hours of downtime then go for it. I can't justify that and will pay a little more to prevent it. Total downtime in the last 24 months = 0 minutes!

It is horses for courses, there is no right or wrong answer in the broadstream.

Hosting on your own is plain folly IMHO, hosting with a decent 3rd party may work for you.

Hosting with the guys that are the crème de la crème is going to cost you a few extra bucks, but if your site is critical you shouldn't really care!

Last year my hosting bill increased by $7,080....so what, the reliability the host provided increased sales by hundreds of times that amount.

Cheap is not always cheerful.....although exceptions do occur!


 10:34 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe you didn't understand percentages. What I was saying was, my biz class cable has a better track record than dedicated servers have. WebmasterWorld is hosted on westhost on dedicated servers. There is no way to pull a big enough pipe in to the office to run it.

I've been on hosts all over the web, and 2-10hrs downtime a year is normal.


 11:09 am on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I've been on hosts all over the web, and 2-10hrs downtime a year is normal.

I can appreciate that most hosts have 2-10hrs downtime per year. I've been in bed with these guys too!

But there are a few that don't.

Some sites, like bobvila, and several MS properties host at a company that reports zero downtime in the last two years.

I'm a lot smaller than MS, a bit bigger than bobvila, but it is true, they do have zero downtime, therefore 2-10hrs of downtime is not something you have to tollerate!

If 10hrs of downtime costs you a minimal expense, then why worry about it! If it cost you several thousand dollars in sales then there is a whole new ball game at play!

It is horses for courses. I'm not saying there is any solution that is right for everyone. All I am saying is that if you site generates money 24/7/365 then you need to have a 100% reliable host.


 5:01 pm on Jul 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

And what about issues like latency, packet loss, and the benefits of bgp routing? Anything that makes significant money should not be run out of your house.

This 43 message thread spans 2 pages: 43 ( [1] 2 > >
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