How to Run Your Own Web Server/Host Your Own Domain
Part 1: What Do You Need?
Before you jump into this, decide if it's really worth it. It is stressful, demanding, and can become costly. It is very easy to go in over your head with this, so be forewarned. Domain hosting by any company (your ISP for example) is always an option.
There are a few requirements for running your own web server and domain. Normally it is a good idea to have a faster connection then 56k dialup, for more reasons than one. You should avoid using a Cable Modem, as it is against AT&T/Cox/etc.'s terms of service to run such a thing. If you have a DSL line (256k or higher) or dual ISDN lines (128k) you should be fine.
The next thing you will need is a static (never-changing) IP address. Using a normal Dial-up 56k-modem connection, every time you connect the unique number to identify yourself on the Web changes. For hosting domain purposes, it's best to have an IP address you can call your own, or one that will stay static for quite some time.
You will also need the domain name, if you are going to use one. This is recommended, since remembering a complete IP address to get to someone's page is a bit hard. You have a couple choices when it comes to this. If you know someone with a domain name, they can give you a _sub_ domain name (you.domain.com). This is usually free or will cost a small fee, depending on how well you know the person. The other option is to purchase your own domain name (yourname.com, .net, or .org), and have someone do the DNS (I'll get into that a little later). We'll look at both routes in the next section.
Other equipment that you will need: a computer running web server software (Apache, Personal Web Server, IIS, WebWeaver, etc.), and FTP software if you would like to edit your files remotely (away from your main machine). Any other hardware required by your net connection (router, hub, etc.) will be needed also.
The Net Connection
A net connection is most important part of hosting your own site. You need a steady connection, and possibly something semi-fast.
You should not use a cable modem connection for hosting. For example, the @home service has it listed in their Acceptable Usage Policy stating: "You may not run a server in connection with the @Home residential service, nor may you provide network services to others via the @Home residential service. The @Home residential service includes personal webspace accounts for publishing personal Web pages. Examples of prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, running servers for mail, HTTP, FTP, IRC, DHCP, and multi-user interactive forums."
DSL and ISDN usually does not have this restriction, but it is best to check with your ISP, or read their terms of service, which can usually be found on the provider's website.
The reason it is recommended to have a faster connection, is because as your site increases in popularity, you'll receive more hits. The more hits, the more bandwidth, the more bandwidth taken the slower it will be to serve more pages, or it will drag for you to surf the web. This is a _very_ big problem sometimes. I used a 256k DSL line for my own server for almost a year. Over the past few months traffic has picked up to the point where if the webserver is running, I could not browse even the most simplest of webpages; I had to upgrade to a faster speed (512k). This won't necessarily happen to you, but it is something to watch out for.
It's not practical to use a 56k dialup, but it is an option for starting out. What ever is convenient, both for you and for your pocketbook, will work fine.
IP address? DNS? What do they have to do with each other?
An IP address currently has 4 sets of numbers, running between 0 and 255. An example of an IP address is 126.96.36.199. If you want to learn more of how an IP address works, (as well as how the web began and how it functions), you can find some information at http://dogwolf.seagull.net/net.html.
Normally, with DSL, you would be given a dynamic (changing) IP address. Although they can stay the same for months at a time, they are technically dynamic. Static IP addresses are needed: they run about $5 a month (more or less, sometimes there is no charge). The reason this is required is so that your domain can be associated with your IP address.
DNS does this work for you. DNS stands for Domain Name System: another part of the web backbone. Each domain name has been entered into a file on a DNS computer somewhere and is associated with a specific IP address. In your case, your domain name would be associated with the IP address of your home machine. All DNS servers talk to each other to update on what IP address a domain is pointing to. Without DNS, the web would not work.
You will need someone to do your DNS, whether it's your ISP or another company (I know register.com is one company that does both a domain name registry and DNS). The choice is yours on this.
Hopefully you have an idea of what kind of domain name you want, or you already have one picked. To register one, there's quite a selection of places out there:
Network Solutions: http://www.networksolutions.com
Domain Monger: http://www.domainmonger.com ($17 a year!)
Nu Names (for those who can't get their .com, .net, or .org): http://www.nunames.nu
There are about a million different places you can do that, so browse around and see what one is best for you.
If you want to use a sub-domain, you still have a bit of a choice of what you want, but it will have to contain the original domain name. As example, you have a friend with www.sailormoongirl.com. You ask your friend for a sub-domain. You'll then have christy.sailormoongirl.com (or whatever you'd like that first part to be). The friend would then be the person you have to contact to change your IP address or set up any other records you may want in the future.
Cost depends on what route you want to take. Domain names can be costly (though I've found $17 a year is pretty reasonable but that price will fluctuate on who you go with), where as sub-domains may cost little or nothing, depending on what the main Domain holder wants to charge you. You may also encounter difficulty either way: with a sub-domain you'd need to contact the main domain holder and have them change your IP
address or other information. With a full domain, you have the responsibility of making sure all your info with them stays current with the DNS, along with paying the fees they will charge during the life of your domain.
You'll need a computer of course. You can use your own personal machine, but when/if your site grows (hosting more people, lots of hits), you may want to put it on its own computer.
If you use Windows 98, you have a few options short of installing a Linux distribution. First, webserving software: Apache (http://www.apache.org) has a rather simple and easy to use webserving software that's available on pretty much any platform. Easy to
install, a little difficult to configure the files, but it's quite compact and can serve most anyone's purpose. We'll discuss the installation and configuration of this one later.
Personal Webserver is a program that is distributed on the Windows 98 CD. It's created by Microsoft and is not too bad a place to start.
There are a mass of other options to look at: C|net (http://wwww.downloads.com) has a great selection for Windows 95/98/NT Web Servers. It's a trial and error process to find out what program works for you.
As for FTP if you wish to use it, the only one I'll highly recommend is SunFTP (http://xs4all.dk/sunftp/). It's simple, non-bulky, runs nicely in the background, and open source, which means the code is open for anyone to look at, use and modify without purchase. Open source is a good thing ^_^ We'll discuss the installation and configuration of this one later.
If you want to check out other FTP Server software, search C|net: as I said before, they have a very large variety of various programs.
Another option you have is to Install a Unix-Based Operating system: Redhat, Linux, Slackware, and about a million others. I only recommend this if you already know Linux (and if you know Linux, why are you reading this ^_^ ), or have a spare machine you'd like to learn it on. In theory, you could install Linux on your personal machine if you've never used Linux before, but there is a very high chance you will lose anything on your drive, along with possibly not understanding how to use Linux nor how to get on the web to learn it. There are also a lot of things that do not work in Linux that may be difficult for you to get use to. It's all up to you, and how much time you have.