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(Ditching webhost) Hosting IIS and Exchange from home Server?

Posted on 2004-10-13
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Hello Experts

Please forgive me if my questions have popped up in EE many times in the past before.

What I like to ask the experts here are a few questions on hosting my own webserver and email server.

My current setup:

I registered my domain name with GoDaddy.com and hosting my website and email with AllBizHost.net (Windows). I am not very impressed with AllBizHost.net's hosting fairly recently and the hosting plan is due to end its current subscription on February 2005. So I am looking to find another ASP.NET webhost with good reliable uptime and good email server, along that option I am looking to add MSSQL option or MySQL option.

On the other hand, I have thought about running my own server at home. I have few (family) users and few computers, and am really looking into deploying a Windows SBS 2003 at home which will give me Exchange 2003 server.

My request, is asking what are the procedure that I need to know to get from where I am now, to hosting my own webserver and email server.

My background: I know how to setup Windows Server and Active Directory, IIS, DNS etc. but only have limited skill with Exchange. My understanding of DNS is fine (for internal DNS) but find it quite confusing when said to host Nameserver.

My current setup: Registrar is GoDaddy.com, pointing NS to AllBizHost.net (hosting). AllBizHost.net hosts my website and email. I have cable connection (2048 Kbps down/512 Kbps up) with static IP, using router to share internet connection (NAT). I know how to set up Virtual Server on router.


Case #1:
If I am going to host my own site and email server locally at home, I know that I need to get GoDaddy.com pointing at my DNS server (or use ZoneEdit -- not very clear on that setup either) to point to my ip address (WAN IP) which the router than determine whether it is port 80 or port 25, then point to the right server inside my network (LAN IP).

What/How do I setup my DNS server for internal and external? (How does ZoneEdit work and how to set it up for my case?)


Case #2:
During the period when I update the NS records on GoDaddy.com, I know that it will take 24-48 hours allowing the DNS records to get properly propagated across the Internet. However, during this period, my emails may be lost in the transfer.

What is the best approach to get this step right and to ensure that my emails can safely arrive to my home server. I have a hunch that when I "leave" my hosting company, it is unlikely that I will have any access to their email server. Do I need a backup MX?


Case #3:
As I will host my website and email locally at home, and I like to setup a home domain for use at home to authenticate home users. I will also (re)setup their mailboxes so they will be able to receive emails from the internet, just like what the current setup is like, only that this time the emails will be stored on Exchange server and use Outlook-Exchange rather than Outlook-POP. I have not had much opportunity to use/setup Exchange server hence my skill is very limited with Exchange server.

How will I setup the Exchange server to handle domain (local) emails sent to other users' mailboxes within the home domain? How do I setup the Exchange server so that my server will not but used by unauthorised external user to send email from my Exchange server? Security to be concern about?


Cheers,
Kel
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Question by:chief77
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humeniuk earned 500 total points
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It sounds like you have a good sense of what you want to do.

Case #1 - If you are just running one website and a mail server for that one domain, you may not want to deal with running your own public DNS server.  ZoneEdit is a good option, but GoDaddy (which I also use) offers a pretty comprehensive DNS service as well.  You can fairly easily set up the appropriate A records & MX record with GoDaddy.  If you choose to go that route, I can help walk you through it.  If you choose to use your own DNS, what you'll have to do is register your name server with GoDaddy and point it at the appropriate IP address.  Then you have to make sure DNS traffic (port 53) to your public IP is routed to your DNS server.  Remember, though, that you should have two name servers for each domain, so in that case, you will likely need backup DNS (ie. ZoneEdit - I don't think you can use GoDaddy DNS as secondary/backup DNS, only primary).  Again, if you choose to go that route, I can provide more detailed instructions.

Case #2 - Here's a good thread that deals with this situation: www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Hosting/Q_21072765.html.  I would recommend periwinkle's suggestion.  The asker in this case rejected it as being too much work, but I think it's the most effective.

Here it is: " You will need to overlap services in order to not lose email.  What I've done in the past is to set up a new name for the new mail server - say mail2.yourdomain.com - and point that to the new server.  Then, I  forward the email from yourdomain.com to mail2.yourdomain.com, and have the clients switch over to using mail2.yourdomain.com.  Then, I transfer the rest of the services and switch dns - and after testing, and when I'm convinced all is well, I discontinue the old server. "

Case #3 - Exchange is another animal altogether, but it's not that hard to learn.  If you want to take a little time and learn in thoroughly, I would recommend this excellent book - Sybex's "Mastering Microsoft Exchange Server 2003" by Barry Gerber (see www.sybex.com/sybexbooks.nsf/2604971535a28b098825693d0053081b/51d5d7f8347c35f088256c1600318fe1!OpenDocument - sorry about the long domain).  You may also want to check out www.msexchange.org/articles_tutorials/Exchange_Server_2003/ - it's a great site with numerous Exchange tutorials, some of them very sepcific.  A good place to start would be "Installing and Configuring SBS 2003" at www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Installing-and-Configuring-SBS2003.html.  Some of this information you already know, but it deals with the Exchange install/config aspect quite well and addresses your local domain question.

In terms of external email users, you have a few choices.  Exchange uses the POP3 protocol through using virtual servers, though the POP3 service is disabled by default.  You can also use Outlook Web Access (OWA), which is is basically a web-based interface that looks and works a lot like Outlook.

From a security standpoint, you can see 'Using IIS Lockdown Tool to Secure Exchange Installations' at www.msexchange.org/articles/IIS-Lockdown-Tool-Secure-Exchange-Installations.html and 'Protecting Exchange against Spam' at www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Exchange-Spam.html.


I feel like this just scratches the surface, but it should be enough to get you started.  If you have any questions or if I've missed anything, please feel free to ask.  Additionally, if/when you run into specific problems along the way, well . . . that's what E-E is for.  :)
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by:chief77
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thanks Humeiuk.

I'll get into this and read about them all... Can I contact you directly if i need further "step by step" help?

Case #1:
I think I will use GoDaddy's total DNS control, although I can' access it right now as i have set it up to point to allbizhost.net's dns servers. Will do the change in the coming months, or do you recommend to make changes now, and set up A and CNAME records on GoDaddy? (Help please... :-) )

Case #2:
I like the "overlap" idea, it is simpler to me. And I can get to my (old) mail server by going to the shared-server's ip address and login with my full email address. Next what i need to know is use Exchange properly to set up mailboxes...

Case #3:
I have checked MSExchange.org site very often but there's alwasy something missing or something that I don't quite follow, I will have to re-read again to make sure i don't miss out anything.


Extra:
Just wondering, I know SBS has a limit of 5 clients in its initial package, does this mean I cannot have more than 5 User accounts setup for my home domain? or does the 5 Clients refer to maximum of 5 clients concurrent access (like exchange/email), does this CAL include the count of hardware (eg sharing printer)


Cheers,
Kel.
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by:humeniuk
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> Case #1:
> I think I will use GoDaddy's total DNS control, although I can' access it right now as i have set it up to point to
> allbizhost.net's dns servers. Will do the change in the coming months, or do you recommend to make changes now, and > set up A and CNAME records on GoDaddy? (Help please... :-) )
At this point, you should probably leave everything as is.  Get your server up and running and test it out, then change your DNS when you are ready to go live.

> Case #2:
> I like the "overlap" idea, it is simpler to me. And I can get to my (old) mail server by going to the shared-server's ip
> address and login with my full email address. Next what i need to know is use Exchange properly to set up mailboxes...
A little hint here - once you have SBS (with Exchange) installed and running properly, you can set up the mailboxes as you create the users.  It simplifies things.

> Case #3:
> I have checked MSExchange.org site very often but there's alwasy something missing or something that I don't quite
> follow, I will have to re-read again to make sure i don't miss out anything.
It's a very handy site, but I think I know what you're talking about.  There's a lot of good info there, but it isn't always easy to find.  They might have put a hypen in the URL, too, like E-E did.

> Extra:
> Just wondering, I know SBS has a limit of 5 clients in its initial package, does this mean I cannot have more than
> 5 User accounts setup for my home domain? or does the 5 Clients refer to maximum of 5 clients concurrent access
> (like exchange/email), does this CAL include the count of hardware (eg sharing printer)
Actually, it's your choice :)  It can be either device-based or user-based - either way it means the maximum number of devices or users that can connect to the server at a given time.  You choose during installation, but can change at any time.      It only applies to Internet users when the user requires authentication (so anonymous website visitors wouldn't count).

There is more detailed info on CALs for SBS 2003 at www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/howtobuy/CALs.mspx and a licensing FAQ at www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/techinfo/overview/licensingfaq.mspx.
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by:chief77
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Hello again for the speedy reply.

Case #1: Understood and will carry out in a couple of months when my hosting contract finishes.

Case #2: Sounded like a piece of cake...

Case #3: This will be an ongoing learning but thanks for your initial guide, Cheers.

Extra: This is so so so confusing... potentially I have 5 users and 4 computers + 1 printer, currently we are sharing each others' computers on Windows XP Pro to access Internet and all... 2 of the computers are remote (laptop and pc in another location), and my ideal path is either use Outlook RPC over HTTPS connection to access Exchange, or use IMAP, or ultimately use OWA. So what is your best advice on which CAL is more suitable for my situation? I am thinking more on "Device CAL" as i have more users and we are currently sharing computers.


I hope this isn't too troublesome for you. But I appreciate all the help so far.

Kel.
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by:humeniuk
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Not troublesome at all.

<< . . . i have more users and we are currently sharing computers  >>
That is the scenario under which MS recommends using the device-based CAL, so I think that's the right choice.  From the link above, "Device CALs might make most economic and administrative sense for an organization that has multiple users for one device, such as shift workers."  This is not unlike what you're talking about.
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by:chief77
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Cool Thank You!!!

It's very helpful of you... i won't make any major changes now, most probably early next year. So in the meantime I'll keep all the suggestions in hand.

Can I consult you for more help when I'm making the changes?

Cheers.

Kel.
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<< Can I consult you for more help when I'm making the changes? >>
Of course !   Good luck with the project.
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And thank you for the A.
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