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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Starting my own Server from scratch - Questions.

    Well, I'm not a computer newbie but don't honsetly know much about servers. The company my wife works for has a small website and about 6 email accounts hosted by a company doing it for free but not offering much for support or options. They are looking into hosting their own website/email on their own server. They currently don't have anything web related at all so it would be starting completely from scratch.

    I'm wondering if you can throw together a quick list of what would be needed other than the obvious: Server machine, Server OS, Firewall, Static IP Internet connection.

    Thanks for any help,

  2. #2

    Well, if you are unsure about running a web server and so on, probably the best method would be to go for managed solutions either managed shared virtual hosting or managed dedicatd hosting. But from the looks of things, since it would be a small-ish web site, the shared virtual should do just fine. I am sure that you get pretty responsive web host who do visit this forum.

    However, as far as hardware/software is concern, if you are doing the Linux based hosting, most of the necessary software are available on the Linux installation. As for the hardware, you probably need the server itself, LAN card, router and a good network uplink provider. This might be rather expensive.

    If you either do dedicated hosting (you lease the connection and server) or colocation (you lease the connection but own the server), it would be cheaper since you do not need to bother about starting a datacenter which usually would provide other necessary features such as power backup, security and lower cost. - Offering Batch Image Processing and TIFF/PDF Software Solutions

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Technically you COULD use just about any half-decent computer as a server if you install a server operating system, enough storage, and memory into it and plug it into a connection.

    (The great benefit with servers--for the most part--is that the hardware is designed for long term use, being on 24/7/365. AND the GREATEST difference is the ease of replacement of parts and the amount of memory and processors you can fill a server with)

    If you can risk taking a little extra time to yank a hard drive or replace a power supply (and do it while the machine is off) then a regular PC COULD be used in a pinch.

    For an Operating System, Unless you are VERY FAMILIAR with Linux/Unix, I would suggest Windows 2000 servers. While it is true that a Properly Configured Linux server is rock solid, an improperly configured one May Not Be.

    For storage I definately suggest using RAID( Redundant Array of Independant Disks) hard drive configurations. That is where you have a RAID card plugged in, and the data on the drives is mirrored, striped, etc--basically shared across several hard drives in case one drive fails.

    Both SCSI and IDE raid is available at the moment. SCSI raid is very pricey, but fast. IDE raid is slightly slower but half as expensive for the drives.

    Backups may be a concern...some method will be needed to back up the data on the servers on a regular basis, unless the people who own the website care to re-submit everything whenever a problem arises and the machine has issues, or someone accidentally erases something.

    Power conditioning and backup will be necessary. (UPS's which are battery backed up power supplies) Just in case the power company plays fast and loose with the juice.

    Not to mention someone will have to administrate (babysit) the server occasionally. Patches, hotfixes, changes, user administration, log checking and deletion, etc

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Tenerife, Spain
    Probably not as hard as you think or hard as people make out. Tho a lot more work than shared hosting, which is really what you need (no bias here).

    But if your building the box yourself, then look for reliable components I personally use ASUS motherboards with Pentium III rather than AMD cpu's cos they are generally cooler, get a powerful CPU and chasis fan, and a good brand IDE HDD or 2

    RAID is a good option, but if you can't afford it then makes sure you have surge protector and UPS for your system, you don't want to fry your disk with a nasty burst of juice.

    A SCSI isn't a must, your internet connection is going to be more limiting than your hardware, which reminds me a solid NIC (3com's are good) and a good router.

    I'd go with win2k Server OS as its nice and stable and easy to set-up and theirs affordable mail server software like Imail or MDaemon which can be easily set-up.

    Firewall - software firewalls will probably do, Black ICE server protection is good at Instrusion detection, but I'd recommend a generic firewall along side just to block ports on the protocol level, I use Tiny Personal Firewall or Zone Alarm.

    Internet Connection; if its not a high hitting web site(<5000 a day) you could use the back of a DSL line if your ISP allows it, get one with a decent upstream speed tho.

    Finally outsource your DNS: try
    Dave Parkes
    Sorted Sites
    Low population shared hosting

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Dont' get me wrong, I'm trying to convince them to just sign up with one of the thousands of hosting companies out there since it would be so much easier... I jsut want to show them that it's a lot more work than just "buying a server and plugging it in".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    To have a properly working server, you need:

    The server itself (a proper server can be easily thousands of dollars).

    A safe power supply. (A good UPS system, with the ability to shut down the server properly in case of power outage.)

    A secure, air conditioned server room.

    Server software (The operating system can be a couple thousand bucks alone--per year . Email software -- 500-1000 a year. Database software ? 500 a year. Virus protection --200 a year. E-commerce say a $1000. SSL (secure sockets for secure communication) $300 a year. Tape drive for backup $3000. Tapes for drive - $80-100 a piece, will probably need one a week for archived storage.
    Website reporting software -$300

    (Software costs will vary depending on needs, could be more)

    Net connection ($200-600 a month depending on type)

    SETUP time:

    If you have never setup a server before expect 1-2 months build and configuration time, minimum to get server OS and software configured...MINIMUM

    (Assumes Windows 2000, and reference books on windows 2000 server, sql server, e-commerce/SSL, DNS)

    Linux will take a lot longer if you dont know it.

    Continual babysitting time-- minumum half to 1 hour per day to check logs, check for patches, virus alerts, DOS --Denial of Service episodes, security, maintenance--adding and removing users, making sure enough space is on the drives, etc

    Someone will also have to be either on call (with automatic alerts telling when the server is down through a beeper, etc) or have someone stationed to monitor it.

    this person will have to fix it (at 330am on a sunday) when it goes down in January.


    there is the dealing with the website itself.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    With a good UPS system (not a cheapie desk unit) we are looking at $10,400.

    (AND that assumes someone can be found to administrate the server for free.)

    If the company can afford downtime in case of power outages or internet connection downtime, they will be paying $10K a year for the pleasure.

    IF the company wants to not pay licenses...well fines of up to $100,000 for EACH OFFENSE are possible, and people DO get caught. (Disgruntled employees, etc)

    Compared to a good shared hosting plan ($100-120 a year), the server looks like a bad purchase.

    (And this assumes that no calls to expensive consultant admins are needed--who I've seen charge $150 an hour, easily for a 4 hour response time)

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