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Web Server Recommendations??

Posted on 2003-11-27
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
Hi Everyone,

I used to run a website.
I had it running from home and used a dynamic website (http://www.dynip.com) IP address to forward to my current IP because I only had a dial up connection. (Yes I know, very slow)
Anyway, what happened was one day was that someone got into my website and changed the password on my firewall (inbuilt into the web program which was Omnihttp).

I was very impressed, upset and concerned all at the same time, but thankfully this hacker only wanted to get at my files for free and not delete anything which I assume he/she could have if they wanted to?

Anyway, my question is this.
I am wanting to run another web site again, this time I have a broadband connection, and a static IP address. I would like your recommendations on what the best web server software is to use, something easy preferably, and definitely secure (as possible).

I have someone who will design the website for me, but I will need to be able to update it and run it. I am a Qualified Desktop Engineer and have limited HTML programming knowledge so should be able/would like to be able to pick up things on the new web server reasonably quickly....

I have no knowledge of Unix or Linux and don't really want to learn so Apache is out????

I am running Windows 98SE, 512MB, Duron 1200.

I am more than capable of upgrading to Windows 2000 Pro or XP Pro if you would so recommend but I also play a lot of multiplayer games so would like to keep Windows 98SE if possible.

Please provide a link for the Web Server software you would recommend (so I can download it easily) and an explanation as to why you would recommend it.
It should be easy to use, compatible with 98SE preferably and be as secure as possible.

Cheers
Rodger


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Question by:asmodeusnz
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:fz2hqs
ID: 9836300
Apache really would be a good idea, however if you are dead set against that then so be it. To be really honest I would buy a cheap computer and install LINUX on it. It really isn't that hard if you use a tool like webmin you even get a reasonabley nice GUI.

What you could do is to create a dual boot system and have xp pro and 98 on the same machine, both will support FAT32 (although this isn't a great idea for hosting a website)

XP Pro comes with IIS5.1 (install, go into control panel > add / remove software > components) this is easy to use, and provided you install URLScan (it is aprt of the IISLockdown toolkit) and you make sure you get all of the latest patches then you should be okay. If you could partition your disk so that you have a seperate disk that you could format under NTFS. The only problem therein is that when you boot into XP then your 98 isn't available and vice versa meaning that you can only have games or the website available. That  said, given you only have one IP address I am not sure that is a problem.

There are othersites that you could use for dns now that you have a static address e.g. http://www.dnsmanaged.com


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Assisted Solution

by:Tacobell777
Tacobell777 earned 20 total points
ID: 9841506
I think you just need to make sure that ALL ports are closed on your machine except port 80 ofcourse!

Then either install Apache or IIS, really Apache is not that difficult anymore, there are some cool GUI's out there, and the same principle as IIS.

But the main thing is CLOSE ALL PORTS except 80, that must be how the hacker got into your machine last time, it's really not that difficult to hack if all ports are open.

And ofcourse patch eveyrthing you are running, OS and webserver
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by:fz2hqs
ID: 9842421
Closing all ports and hosting game servers are mutually exclusive. THe games will need certain ports open - with any chance you can find that information though from the manufactirers web sites
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by:periwinkle
ID: 9847009
Let me approach the answer to this a bit differently - it's a bit of a tangent to your question.

To host your web site, 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) or a cable modem, your download rate is much faster than your outgoing rate, and your hardware will appear very slow.

You haven't mentioned whether or not your broadband provider allows via their contract the ability to host a web server inhouse;  often, broadband providers frown on this.

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 some of 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 Sprintlink.com 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!

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.  You have indicated that you don't wish to 'learn' - hopefully this just means Linux :)  

FWIW, Apache runs on Windows as well as Linux machines, so you have that as an option, even if you don't want to go to Linux.  Apache is the most popular web server out there - see the Netcraft Web Server survey for statistics - http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html and (IMHO) would be your best bet.

However, depending upon your skill set, you might be better off securing good shared hosting, and leave the security issues to the sys admins at the facility.  While it might cost you a few bucks per month, you can look at it as insurance - it can avoid hours of hassles if things go wrong, or if someone attempts to break into your machine.  

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by:asmodeusnz
ID: 9893262
Guys,

Thanks for your replies.

Firstly, I'm not wanting to host a gameserver.
Secondly (Periwinkle) I have approx 200GB of files that I would like to be available on my website, (basically a huge database of all sorts of drivers, game patches/updates, cheats etc etc acculmulated over several years), so Webhosting a large site like this wouldn't be cost effective, hence my desire to inhouse webhost.
Thirdly my ISP is fine about wenhosting as long as I keep within my Allocated 15GB per month usage (excess is charged at 5c per MB)
Forthly my uploading speed (checked via Kazaa) is the same as my downloading speed.

I Just want a webserver with "Members only access" (Username and password required) so that every Tom dick and Harry doesn't have access, only friends, customers etc have access.

I've downloaded a Win98 version of Apache, since there doesn't seem to be much else out there......
After I've bought a domain name what do I do next?

The static IP I have at the moment has been up for approx 10 days, but if I have a power cut or need to reboot the modem I will be assigned a new Static IP address.

What I guess I need is a FREE re-direction to my URL that points to my newly purchased domain instead of the static IP address and/or while the static IP address is updating so there is no downtime on my server.

Any ideas?
Which is the best site to purchase a domain name from?
Value for money, Free URL Re-direction, couple of email addresses, etc?

Cheers
Rodger


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by:asmodeusnz
ID: 9893279
Periwinkle,

THanks again, 1 question I forgot to answer my admin skills.
I control approx 500 users on MS-EXCHANGE here at work, hopefully my admin skills will be able to pick up using Apache Webserver, (even though I've never used it before) :):)

Cheers
Rodger
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Accepted Solution

by:
Techno_Icon earned 160 total points
ID: 9894271
um.. basically all you need now is a dns server to point at your webserver and tell the world that your website is 1.1.1.1 or what ever..

i would suggest useing someone like www.dyndns.org
or www.no-ip.com

they are pretty good.
you should be able to setup apache pretty easy.  i use it and love it.. although i found problems on my winXP machine, with the jpg's or any images not desplaying, but now i'm on 2003 server and it works fine!

thanks
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Expert Comment

by:Hyperon
ID: 9898112
apache! without a doubt the best webserver on the planet. its easier to set up than IIs also. if you get version 1.3.29 ill even send you my config file and you wont have to do a thing!

also, can i suggest www.dot.tk - free domains eg. www.calgenstudios.tk - my site, the only thing is, there is a banner ad that is annoying, but when you have service like that, does it really matter?

n.b. also comes with free builtin traffic counter that even tells you what country they visit you from.
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Expert Comment

by:Hyperon
ID: 9898122
oh yeah, www.apache.org
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by:asmodeusnz
ID: 9899537
Techno Icon,

Thanks for your suggestions.
I have now signed up with www.no-ip.com (bought a domain) and also signed up for IP-Plus.
Some Points will be coming your way when I'm up and running.

Also, the domain I have registered will take 24-72 hours before it works? Why?
And what about DNS servers? or do I only need to put my current IP address and have it pointing to my new .com site???

Hyperon,
I have installed Apache 2.0.0.4.8 and it seems to be running ok locally, but won't run via the internet? See above. Any ideas?
I am quite happy to go back to 1.3.29 if you believe it will run on my Win98SE system better?

I am also very interested of your offer of your config file. I spent a few hours last night on Apache and it seems very complicated, and I don't think I accomplished much.

Is there any tutorials that are easy to follow?? the Instructions seem very complex (but I'm not familiar with unix at all).

Cheers
Rodger

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Expert Comment

by:Techno_Icon
ID: 9901522
good i'm glad you like no-ip.

i had the same problem with changing the MX record with a customers mail account.  basically what happens in the DNS servers(public ones) have a record in them(call MX for mail) and it tells you where to go to get a certain addres.. and as far as i know it's the same for a domain name, a DNS will update it's TTL every 24 hours usually, and so it takes that long to propergate through all the DNS servers.  you are supposed to be able to change the serial number on them and then it will update straight away but my mail hosters wouldnt do that so i dont know if it would work..
No-ip should have a public dns server that tells every other public dns server where to look for your domain name.. :)

ok your apache.  make sure your machine isnt running Internet Connection Sharing.. i had problems with that working..

umm.. and also i would suggest going to windows 2000 instead of 98.  coz they say it's not tested properly for 98 and  2000 is better :)

with the tutorial for apache i was just have a look at the bits you dont understand, and then search for them in google.  thats the way i learnt, there should be only a few things you need to setup.

i have a config that you can look at,
email me: patrick@ncable.com.au

thanks hope that helped!
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Expert Comment

by:Hyperon
ID: 9916788
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Assisted Solution

by:Hyperon
Hyperon earned 60 total points
ID: 9916809
2. go back to 1.3.26 (sorry, typoed earlier), and i'll send u the config file

(N.B. my modem cut out and only half data was sent, sorry. thats why this is seperate)

N.B. link wrong : http://lameindustries.org/apache/apache.shtml

~Hyperon~
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Expert Comment

by:Hyperon
ID: 9916832
oh, missed a bit. right, well i recommend you go back to apache 1.3.26 because, my host is my friend who has broadband, and we had problems setting it up. It woudnt server to the web either. get 1.3.26, and ill send you the config file, much easier.

N.B. what is your email?
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Expert Comment

by:Hyperon
ID: 9916838
OH, and a question to the experts.

I folowed the apache instructions to enable SSI, but it continues to fail. Any ideas why?
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Author Comment

by:asmodeusnz
ID: 9938329
Well, the Website is now up and running on Apache.
Thanks to No-ip.com!
Thanks Everyone for their input.
Will split the points, Most to Techno_Icon for the no-ip.com suggestion
Some to Hyperon for the tutorials links and other advise.

Cheers
Rodger


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