My Own Web Server

I am trying to figure out the best (most economical) way to host a website for a couple of friends.  Both of their dads own their own businesses and I have offered the possibility of hosting their sites. The websites are basically an information site for both of them right now.  So, I guess what I would like to know is how I can host two sites on one server and what type of server do I use and ?  (Note:  They both have their respective sites hosted through companies online right now.)
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Economical = LINUX and Apache,
total cost = nothing (not counting the cost of the computer and connection)

Chances are that these sites are completely static and have little or no visitors to them ? You could probably get away with a machine as low spec as a Intel P2 with 128 Mb RAM hosted off of a broadband connection from your home. You will need to make sure you get a static IP address from your broadband ISP and that you or your friends can at some point make changes to the domain name zone files (those files are most probably held by the people who host their email)

If you have to go Microsoft then you will have to get a server opreating system whether that be NT4, 2000 or 2003 it must be Server so you can run multiple websites (You would use a product called IIS (Internet Information Server)). Problem is the server will be more expensive and teh operating system licence also quite a lot

This site has quite a bit of information that you might want to read through:

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I am guessing you do not know Linux since you are new to web servers, and I will assume you are using Windows.
If we are not going into the discussion of what is right and what is wrong but just get to the solution for what you need.
Then I suggest:
If your running Windows XP you will need to install Apache, as IIS does not run more than one website on XP.
If your running Windows Pro or 2000 Server, install IIS that comes with it -> Control Panel -> Windows Components -> Internet Information server

I am assuming your friends dads have already registered their domain, so you need a DNS server somewhere, which I guess their current host will not provide anymore, unles syou still pay them for it, which is not what you want. I recommend moving their domains to Directnic, or if they have not registered one yet, register it with directnic, they have a cheap DNS solution for $5 a year.

Get yourself a ADSL connection with (that's if your in Australlia) they allow hosting on port 80

For a mailserver, I am assuming you need mail for the domains you want to host, tough one here, if your all new to this all the above might have already scared you away???
Let me approach this question a little bit differently...

You have a number of options:

(1) You can host inhouse
(2) You can host on a shared server
(3) You can host on a dedicated server
(4) You can host on a colocated server

While it may appear 'cost effective' to house inhouse, some of the disadvantages of (1) include:

. You must maintain Hardware
. You must provide all security, redundancy, etc.
. It could be a legal liability if your server is broken into and used to hack or spam other servers.
. If you have ADSL (asynchronous DSL), your download rate is much faster than your outgoing rate, and your hardware will appear very slow.

Let me explain why I usually recommend to recommend to people that they use a dedicated server over an inhouse server - this will help illuminate the problems with inhouse hosting.

A dedicated server solution is similar to a co-located solution where a server sits on another person's network, but for a dedicated server (sometimes known as a managed server), the server hardware is leased to you, and 100% maintained by the data center.  Coloction will provide you with similar features - see the notes at the end.

 A dedicated server will give you:

*  Security.  Dedicated servers are most often located in a locked down facility (your cost: uncertain!)  that specializes only in dedicated servers, and that is monitored 24/7/365 (your cost: sleep, or the cost of employees).  Most likely, only server farm administrators are allowed in the area that houses your server.  The server farm will have hardware and software firewalls in place (your cost: > $300), and will monitor against hackers and other drains of unusual bandwidth (your cost: once again, sleep!)

*  Reliability.  The server farm places each server on a UPS (your cost: $200 - $1000 and up, depending upon the number and quality), may be located on multiple power grids (! I have no idea of the cost!) and often has an emergency power generator in case of power outages (I would expect this to cost $1000 and up, depending upon the size of the generator).

*Bandwidth and Redundancy.  The server farm is located with high speed direct connections  (usually T1, DC3, OC3, etc.) to multiple backbones on the Internet - if one of the main routers at goes down, your service is rerouted transparently. (Your cost: it varies, although smaller ISPs that I've talked to that only have 2 or 3  links report monthly  costs of > $10,000).

* Fully outsourced hardware support.  The hardware and network are monitored and maintained by server farm staff (your cost: cost of initial server hardware, support and maintenance contract, plus hourly rates to get things replaced and/or fixed)

*  Scalability.  The server is easily upgraded to meet increased usage needs, from both a software and a hardware point of view. Components often cost less to add (as the server farm will buy in bulk) than it will to add to your own server, not to mention the hours of labor incurred.

If you bought and co-located your own server, you'll still have a rental fee (often similar in price to the dedicated server lease costs).   You also lose the outsourced hardware support advantage, and sometimes there are actually tax advantages to leasing over owning.  Generally, the cost of buying a large pipe to your facility usually cannot be justified, until you are running a facility with a good sized support staff.

I would still recommend colocation over hosting inhouse - you gain most of the advantages of the dedicated server, but be prepared - if your hardware goes down, it will stay down until you fix it!  These are businesses that you are housing email and web hosting for - they will not be happy if they are unable to get their leads (however few) from their website, or if their domain-based email stops working!

Finally - you haven't mentioned how sharp your system administration skills are.  The responsibility of having your own server means that you need to keep up on all the latest security patches, and understand fully what you have opened to the internet.  Depending upon your skill set, you might be better off securing good shared hosting that allows you to resell accounts, and leave the security issues to the sys admins at the facility.

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If you have ADSL (asynchronous DSL), your download rate is much faster than your outgoing rate, and your hardware will appear very slow.
While this is true, what if you have an ADSL line like 512/256 kbps do your reckon it will still look slow? I reckon not.
Back in Spain I had a dedicated framerelay line 128/128 now I have 256/128 ADSL and it's just as fast, only difference is instead of paying $1.000 a month I now pay $84 a month...

I think if we wan't to we could write a whole document of what he needs to know about running his own hosting, and this would most likely scare him away form it all. But just like he wants to start that's how I started, and you need to start some day. So yeah he'll run into probs now and then, but he'll learn from them and any from the problems do you really learn.
what type of server do I use and
I assume you mean what type of hardware?
anything will do really, I have hosted of P200MMX 128MB, and it did the job just fine for Static HTML.... But it was tweaked left and right, nothing but a HTTP Server ran on it...
Tacobell -

While I agree that you can get started in hosting by working with your own equipment, I think it's important to know what you are getting into, particularly with bandwidth and security issues.  

Also, it's important to know that 'economical' can mean a number of things when you factor in your time, as well as the cost of maintainance.  What is inexpensive now can become very expensive later, particularly when an off the shelf computer that you've reconfigured as a server has a fan that burns out, and destroys the motherboard :)

Accessing a 128K line is very slow in comparison to accessing a site in a data center, which typically nowadays has optical cable (OC48 etc.) capabilities, or the like, as well as multiple routes out to the backbones of the internet.  While there isn't likely to be a large need for compacity for two brochure style sites, needs can grow quickly.

But in all fairness, by my response above, I didn't fully answer the questions in the author's request, just the '?' part  Here's a more direct response for what I would recommend:

>  I am trying to figure out the best (most economical) way to host a website for a couple of friends.

I would recommend finding a good shared web hosting plan that allows you to resell portions of the space so that you have multiple domains hosted in one spot as being the 'most economical' solution, both in terms of $$'s and time.  Having said that...

> what I would like to know is how I can host two sites on one server and what type of server do I use and ?

Both of the most popular choices for web server software, Apache, and IIS, will allow you to host multiple sites on one server.  Your biggest choice to make will be whether or not you utilize some flavor of Linux or Windows.  Asking which evokes all the emotions of asking which religion is better - those who prefer Linux as equally devout as those who prefer Windows.  I would suggest that you choose which you feel most comfortable with (or which holds the most interest for you), and then study how to best secure and update that platform.

DinDin1199Author Commented:
Thanks guys for the help.  I found that this site does a great job of stepping through the whole process...exactly what I am looking for.  (  Thanks, fz2hqs!
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