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Is it expensive to setup ? How much does the hardware cost ? How much does the software cost ? I know these are 'how long is a piece of string' questions, but just rough approximate figures for now would be great, as I don't really know what specs to ask about.
How easy is it ?
I don't think I would want to host peoples website as a business, just my own.
Has anyone else done this please ?
Any help much appreciated.
1) A server capable of the load your sites require. Maybe 2 or 3 servers depending.
2) Someone who knows how to configure the server it needs to respond to http requests. Some type of Apache configuration, and proper supporting files and folder structures, along with users and permissions. If you need PHP or a DB you will need to also configure it so that it is secure but available to the appropriate sites. If you want email or FTP that will also have to be configured properly.
3) At least one dedicated IP from an ISP
4) A connection capable of giving you good up/down transfer rate. Most Internet packages only give you a good speed for down but not up. A t1 type connection is often the solution but there are others.
5) Someone who will keep the machine updated and patched with all the latest security issues for whatever you are running... PHP... MySQL and so on
6) a secured server room, with redundant ac that keeps the room at 20 degrees
7) some power surge protecting external batteries for power failure
that should get you started.
Overall, your best bet for jumping into this is probably to go with managed hosting. You're basically leasing the server(s) (issue 1) from the company, which is/are located on their site and maintained/monitored by their own staff (issues 2-8).
Prices are all over the board, depending on what you need. Google "managed server" for about 1.9 million pages. :) Note that a lot of the companies doing shared hosting also do managed hosting. So if you had a bad experience with them on the shared hosting side, you may (but not always) get similar experiences on the managed side.
Another option, which shifts more responsibility to you, is co-location. Basically, you have your own box and put it in their facility. So you take care of issues 1,2,5,8 and they take care of the rest. Since you are buying the server hardware and software, the upfront costs are more expensive, but monthly costs are cheaper.
Others might consider that you'd have to house it on your own premises - business or home. Still others may consider that if you lease a server without management services, that's "hosting your own site".
Others may consider that you must have your own IP addresses, and/or your own ASN.
So, just what do you mean by "host your own site"?
Capsule summary: it is more costly, you will have less bandwidth and poorer performance. Why bother? The only good reason is if you absolutely must have hands-on access to the hardware.
Lease a VPS or dedicated server, and make sure it's in a good data center. Don't just choose a host - choose a host, geographical location, and data center.
Things like not depending on someone else to get the job done. Or counting on them to respond when you need them.
There are a lot of reasons to not.. but there are just as many to... if you are too small or not equipped with the staff or expertise to do this then I would shy away from it.
If you are a medium to large sized business then do a feasibility study, then if you feel it is right start looking for a systems administrator and go for it.. just realize it will cost more to start but it gives you so much more power and removes the cost for a lot of things you would ask for...
You want more ftp/email space/accounts
You want more data transfer.
You want to add another domain.
Upgrade the DB.
Add a new server language.
all will no be...no problem.. no charge... all you need to do is tell your guy to get on it.
If you need to help offset the initial costs you could look at hosting for others and you can recoup some of the startup investment that way.
Just don't cheap out.. if you do this, it HAS TO be done properly or shouldn't be done at all.
[edited by: Demaestro at 8:08 pm (utc) on April 25, 2008]
There was a funny sorry on vallywag about how some of thease web2.0 CTO are cluless about how the internet realy works and coundnt do basic stuff like sort out redundant load balanced exernal links (T1's) this is CCNA level
Recently I used an old server with 2Gb of memory on the end of an 512K upstream speed ADSL. I run FreeBSD 6, Apache 1.3.x, PHP 5 and MySQL 3.3 - all cheap and cheerful so far. In terms of time though, it was expensive to set up as I had a <i>lot</i> of configuration to get right. I'd say at this stage that you can run on cheap hardware but it needs to be reliable and your ADSL link needs to be good. Also, if you're using the same ADSL for your normal surfing you'll be impacted by heavy web server traffic..
I'm now running two low-traffic sites on this box which mainly seems to get visits from SE-bots, spammers and hackers. The biggest issue I had was that everything my previous host had done for me transparently now had to be done by me: this included setting up security, monitoring logs, backups and software maintenance. If you're prepared to do this then that's okay, but it's all too easy to set up a machine badly and become just another hijacked menace.
You'll also need to manage your bandwidth properly although this may not always be easy to control. I found that a rogue 'bot clocked 9,000 hits in 2 weeks: not a big deal by most site standards but again if you're using the same line for normal surfing you may get problems.
Having said all that though, it's very enjoyable once it gets going and it should make you a better IT all-rounder!
Don't spend any money on hardware if you don't have too. Let whomever you choose as your provider deal with hardware purchases. I did the hardware thing first time around. A bit costly because of all the bells and whistles I wanted. But, that was a few years ago. These days, we've moved everything into a Virtual Server environment and it has been smooth sailing ever since. I haven't had to purchase any hardware since the changeover. No more blades, blade servers, etc.
Host providers have better chances of keeping your website up for a large number of reasons. If your thinking of hosting yourself, the first problem is getting a connection with a good upload speed, as normal ADSL wont do it.
If you really want to go down this route, then I suggest taking it in small stages, first trying hosting from a single machine.
I personally would go for hiring a dedicate server.
Either way, its relatively easy to get a simple server up and running, its not so easy keeping it up. You need know how to configure the server to run as you want it to without falling over, and to defend against being hacked etc..
Try experienting, get some experience before running a proper website in it.
[edited by: Seb7 at 7:26 pm (utc) on June 15, 2008]