Jan 102012

What is needed for self web hosting?

First you need an understanding of the Internet and how it works. You have to visualize all of the computers in the world coming together to form the largest computer network. All computers connected to the Internet can potentially link to each other. Computers fall into two groups. One group is called the user group and the other is called the server group. The user group is used to connect to the Internet and surf the various sites. Servers, on the other hand, are used to store and serve information.

Most websites are hosted at web hosting providers who have large data centers with thousands of computers and a ton of telecommunication bandwidth, i.e., the cabling through which data travels around the world. They let you host your website on their computers and charge you according to the resources you need.

Can you host your website at home or in your office and bypass the web hosting providers. Yes you can. However; self-hosting requires good technical knowledge of hardware, software, bandwidth, and DNS routing.

Computers that access the Internet are assigned an IP address that is unique to that computer. The IP address can be compared to your home address. It identifies the place where you are. It also allows certain information to be sent directly to you. A port number is used to send information to a certain person; perhaps somebody else in your household or business.

When you connect to a website there are several things that happen beneath the surface that you may not understand. You use the website address to connect to that computer. Once connected to that computer you then request the webpage which is then displayed on your computer. All of the information on the Internet is stored somewhere on a server.

If you plan on self-hosting, you will need to have above average technical knowledge because you will probably find that you will have to install Linux, PHP, Server Management software like Apache, mail management, and plenty of other security and management utilities. The average computer user does not have that type of knowledge. It is possible to get all of this at a reasonable price but the average person probably will not have the technical knowledge to set it all up. If you do not have this expertise you can outsource the setup and day to day management to somebody who has the knowledge to do so.

You must have certain hardware if you plan on self-hosting. The most important thing is to have a fast internet connection. The hardware you need really depends on the traffic you expect. You will need the services of an intermediary DNS routing service such as Nettica or ZoneEdit. When you sign up with such services users who attempt to connect to your self-hosted website will be routed to the static IP address on your self-hosted server.

If you plan on self-hosting you will need a robust server with abundant computing power, memory and storage space along with sufficient bandwidth. If you don’t have the right resources, your website will perform very slowly or even crash under the load depending upon your traffic. People don’t have much patience to wait for information to load. There are plenty of other sites out there where they can get the information they want at a much faster pace. So make sure you have plenty of hardware and bandwidth.

With the availability of high bandwidth fiber cabling in many large metropolitan areas, self hosting is increasing becoming viable. If you can handle the technical / administrative side of it, then self hosting becomes a cheaper alternative to dedicated servers or VPS servers.


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