Web server

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gt1209

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Thinking about running my own web server.

Details: assuming website is similar to craigslist, traffic is 1,000 - 5,000 per day, each visit chews up about 20 MB. Should I buy a dedicated server? Or can I get by with running the server on my new build machine (windows) via a virtual machine (Linux)?

Assuming my new build machine is something like latest low end i3, 4GB - 8GB RAM, 1TB. Or whatever AMD build that I can put together for under $600.

I don't really care about downtime at this moment. I may change my mind if the site grows.
 

gt1209

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Yes I did. Actually I've been on the fence - do it myself or depend on a site such as Bluehost. When do you draw the line to let someone host it or host it yourself?

I'm leaning toward hosting it myself because the site may contain customer info, invoice info, and all that eventually. (not at first)
 

ubercake

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A static IP address is a fairly expensive endeavor making using a hosting service worthwhile if your just a one-man operation.

Dynamic DNS (DDNS) services are OK, but you need to make sure you're web server (in your house) is always connected. If you're offering your services for free, like craigslist, then your customers really can't complain if the sites down, though.

Believe it or not, larger web hosts are a good option for a one-man operation. They give you all the benefits of using a larger company such as physically redundant servers and failover mechanisms in place so the site can run under any conditions (ie power outage at one data center but not at another).

I've dealt with smaller web hosts out there, but they are always failing or getting bought up. When thye fail, you're left high and dry. When they get bought up, you have a whole new set of rules regarding what you can do on the new host's servers and you also may have to deal with re-establishing and initializing server settings. Also, the new host may not always move your files (even after you discuss this with their migration people) to a server with the same OS and same middleware/scripting server product(s) (ie you were using php 4 on windows and they move you to php 5 on linux at the new host and don't turn on SQL server, etc...) And e-mail services always change going from one host to the next because they all seem to use different e-mail servers.

At any rate, I started using GoDaddy hosting (huge hosting company) a couple of years ago and have had very little changes take place. They are a good, affordable option. They offer many scripting language options and many different levels of service.

If you're just toying around with the idea, you can get by with a powerful setup for somewhere under $200 with a SQL database and any scripting language you want to work with using a reliable larger hosting service. Also, the support from Godaddy is there 24/7 and has always come through for me when necessary.

If you make it to the big time, you can build you're own data center.
 

gt1209

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That's a good post, really helpful! I appreciate it when you take time to post something like this! I'll think and digest it before I post another reply.
 

Rusting In Peace

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For me the line is drawn largely by cost; where cost is a combination of cash, piece of mind and time taken.

Wouldn't you rather focus your effort into the site's direction and content than doing that AND cheesing about with servers?

As for customer data you should be encrypting all of this anyway from when it's being sent from the connecting machine to when it's stored in a database. Doing anything else would be bad practice regardless of how it's hosted!
 

gt1209

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So is the only reason that I should host my own web server is if my site gets big enough, where maintaining it myself would be less costly than having someone else do it for me?

Companies that host their own web server... Do they do that because they already have an internal server, and they use the same people to host web server to cut down cost?
 

ubercake

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You get all the control when you host something yourself. You don't have to worry about which features are turned off because they pose a risk on a shared server.

Though even the larger hosts offer plans by which you get a server to yourself. These are costly, though.

With shared plans (many web sites running on the same server), you save a lot of money having a site hosted on a shared server, though you sometimes need to get creative when the features you want to use are turned off in the server software. A shared plan is good when you're just starting with an idea. You pay around $150 (I think that's around the godaddy rate) for a year of hosting with SQL servers, e-mail services, various middleware/server software and a certain bandwidth limit. If you exceed the bandwidth limit, you're doing something right and your site is generating traffic.

When you host something yourself, you're not restricted in any way and your bandwidth limit is limited to whatever your provider has in place.

Don't get me wrong, there are good points to hosting your own, but if you're just putting feelers out there, I'd recommend you call a hosting company with a good support team. When shopping around, I like to call the support number on the hosting service's web site just to see if they even pick up the phone and speak my native language. I just explain to them what I'm doing when they answer.

Do this a couple of times and you'll get a feel for what to expect from a company.
 
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