Making a website hosting server at home : My Experience

Hello everyone! Hope you all are doing okay!

Well lets not waste any more time then. In this post, I will recollect all of the experiences which I had while setting up the Web Hosting Server in my home. As I have mentioned, I am a Computer Science Student and I like to tinker a lot with different kinds of technologies and that’s when I got the idea to set up my own Web Hosting Server. I read around on the internet and looked up the hardware specifications (I have an entire article on how to choose hardware for your Server in case you missed it). In the end, here is the Server Setup that I had:

  • Intel Xeon E3 – 1220 Processor with 3.1Ghz clock speed and 8MB Cache
  • Gigabyte GT 297 Motherboard
  • ECC Crucial Server 8GB Memory Module
  • Seagate Barracuda 1TB Internal Hard Disk
  • 4Mbps Broadband Internet Connection
  • Logitech K400R Wireless Keyboard
  • Logitech M320 Wireless Mouse
  • 20” Acer V203H Widescreen LCD Monitor
  • Operating System of Choice: Windows Server 2012 R2

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I know I know a lot of you may question my choice of going with Windows Server 2012 R2 instead of any popular distribution of Linux such as Ubuntu Server 14.04.3 LTS. So first of all, in case you missed it, I have written an entire article debating and weighing the pros and cons of both Windows and Linux as Server Operating Systems. And based on those weights only, did I choose to go with Windows. And I reason is that I wanted to get my Server up and running in as little time as possible and I had no prior experience of setting up a Linux Machine. If I had chosen Linux then I would have to spend an ample amount of time first trying to set up a Linux Server and then learn the Command Line interface of Linux in order to get anything decent out of it. On the other hand, Setting up a Windows Server is a fairly easy and straightforward process. Also I am very much used to the interface of Windows since I have been using Windows probably ever since I started using Computers. Therefore, I chose Windows as it was saving me a lot of time. Having said that, there’s no denying the fact that Linux truly is much more stable than Windows Server and is a lot more flexible ONLY and ONLY if you know how to use it. Probably one of my next challenges would be to learn how to set up a Linux Server and then shift the hosting service from Windows to Linux. Though I’m not sure when I’ll actually take up that challenge.

Moving on, so I bought my copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 (read my post about what’s better, Windows or Linux) and no, I did not download a pirated copy off the Internet if that’s what you’re thinking. I assembled the Hardware components, installed the Operating System and the Server came to Life! However, this was just a regular PC. To make it a proper server, I had to install all the necessary tools that would come in use. So that’s what I did and installed all the tools such as an Apache Server (absolutely necessary to run a Web Server), Mysql, FileZilla for setting up an FTP Server, a VPN and other similar range of services.

There were two problems which I faced with the Web Server.

One was that since I lived in a relatively hot and humid area, the server would heat up a lot and therefore crashed sometimes. So to counter that, I installed a proper cooling system. I wanted to save the cost of using the Air Conditioner 24×7 as that would cost me a fortune on electricity bills. So what I did was install a stylish bladeless Dyson fan near my desk as well as an efficient Lasco window fan in the window which worked as an exhaust fan. The entire setup not only got rid of all the heat generated from the server but also made the room feel much more cooler than the remaining parts of the house.

The second problem was that power outages were very common in my locality. However, I didn’t really have to do anything about that as there was a stand by generator installed in my House and the Server would start up automatically in nearly 6-7 seconds after being shut down due to power failure. Yes, that resulted in a downtime but It was very negligible as well as affordable. The last thing which I did to ensure reliability of my Server was to have a low powered PC connected to the Server via a network with Tons of storage whose sole aim would be to store the data files of the Server as backup in case the Server crashed or was breached and all the data was lost.

Also, I did not realize it in the beginning but I should not have put the server on the same power circuit that my kitchen appliances use. I have a habit of eating french fries while working on my project. I cook them at home (btw, I use a here’s the one I have at home) from flash-frozen pre-cut potatoes. So, I set up a bunch to fry and then go to my office to work. Once it is ready and the fryer timer makes a sound, I come back and bring the fries to the office. In the beginning, when my server ran at the same time as the fryer, I often ended up with dead fuses 🙁 So I had to carefully choose a power outlet to plug in my server to avoid such collisions.

Oh well, that were my thoughts went stray. Back to the topic.

Now that my server was up and running, the final phase was to pitch my service out to potential users. Now since I am not a professional Web Hosting Service provider, my best chance at getting Clients was through Free Web Hosting Services with add on packages which were obviously paid. So what I did was set up my website for Web Hosting, made a few packages such as “Free, Bronze, Silver and Gold” and went live with my service.

I did end up making quite a fair amount of money from it and I still do. However to truly get a serious amount of cash out of this, one has to invest a lot of time and energy into this and take it as a business. I didn’t set up a Web Server because I wanted to have a professional service which I could sell for Money. My aim was to learn and that’s I what I did. I learned how to set up a small scale web hosting Server in my home. And now that its been done, I look forward to my next endeavor.

It was nice talking to you all. See you all soon !

Hosting At Home: Pros and Cons

Hi again! Last time was just an introduction to what Web Hosting was. Just to recap, if you have a website which you want to share with the world, or a blog where you want the people to listen to you or are working on an open source project and want the people to work with you in or anything else, you’ll have to host your website on a web server. Now there are two ways to do this. One is to rent out a hosting service who will take care of all your hassles of setting up a server and everything else related to managing a server and all you’ll have to do is pay them a monthly or yearly fees. Or, you can take a step further and host your own server at home. Both the options have their own merits and demerits.

Here are some of the Pros of In house Hosting:

  • You have complete and utter control over the hosting while hosting at home. A slower processor can be replaced, Ram and storage can be increased etc. and the entire specification of the server can be changed if you deem it unfit. Not only that, if you have the server close to you, you can easily make the physical changes yourself without relying on any external person for doing it for you.
  • An even better advantage of having an In house hosting server is the relative ease with which you can update/modify and upgrade your softwares especially updating the Operating System of the server. Doing the same over the Internet to your rented server can be a huge pain. Any changes to the data being hosted or any other tasks related to system administration can be performed easily without having to remotely log in to a server.
  • Any changes you make to your server at home are immediate. You do not have to wait for your server to implement the changes which you request. You can make the changes immediately, view them and approve them if appropriate or change them again if not needed or incorrect.
  • The initial cost of setting up the server can be relatively low depending on whether you already have a computer present or not. Even if some of the components are faulty, you can easily replace the faulty ones. Better than that, with an in house server, you are not answerable whenever there’s a downtime or whenever the server crashes for whatever reason. You are the boss of your own server.

Now let’s look at some of the Cons:

  • A big issue with hosting online is that most ISPs provide a dynamic IP Address to its customers who can change every few days or every few hours. This means that once your IP changes, the visitors to your website won’t be able to access your server until and unless you update the IP against your domain. While many ISPs also provide a static IP Address, this can incur an additional cost as well. The issue of the dynamic IP Address however can be tackled by installing a script in your server which updates your IP address at the DNS Host every time your IP address is updated by the ISP.
  • The speed of the Internet is also a big factor. If you have a Standard 1Mbps DSL connection, it is pretty much sufficient for a website which online receives a few hits per day. But if you have a website which is very popular and very frequently visited, this can greatly affect the speed of the server. The visitors can experience a lag and the server can even crash if more load is put on it than it can sustain.
  • Another factor is that the speed of the internet is not always consistent. You can experience a slower connection at peak times or the connection can go down altogether for a few hours or days if there is a fault in the ISP’s connection lines. This can greatly affect your Website’s performance.
    Any server when enough loads are put on it will create a lot of heat and noise. This is probably one of the biggest factors why people don’t put servers at the homes and server farms are created especially to tackle this problem of noise and heat associated with servers.
  • And the mother of all demerits of hosting at home. Being in charge of a server no easy task. You have to take care of it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. You have to take care of all the hardware failures. You are in charge of updating and modifying all the softwares and are in charge of the security of the server as well. And this is no easy task. If anything goes wrong, you’re the one who’ll get all the blame.

Now hosting at home does have its troubles and problems. But is it worth it? I don’t know. I probably have experienced some of the troubles I have mentioned but I have surely reaped the rewards as well. If you can figure out whether the pros outweigh the cons of in house hosting, wait up for my next post where I will be discussing ways in which money can be made with free hosting.

Stay Tuned!