setting up a webserver

This is a discussion on setting up a webserver within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; I am interested in setting up a webserver(from home), with the ultimate goal of hosting my own e-commerce site(with shopping ...

  1. #1
    In my head happyclown's Avatar
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    setting up a webserver

    I am interested in setting up a webserver(from home), with the ultimate goal of hosting my own e-commerce site(with shopping cart) in about 6-12 months.

    There is so much info online, it's somewhat bewildering. I would like to hear from people who have done this: what were some of the challenges that you've encountered, namely security, as well as downtime due to hackers/hardware failure.

    Personally, I prefer to go down the Windows Server 2008 RC2/IIS instead of the linux/apache path(minimal experience with linux, none for apache). I have no networking skills(TCP/IP), and a 512kbs ADSL internet connection. Once I host the e-commerce site, I'll be getting better hardware and internet connection.

    Anyway, hope to hear from people who have already gone down this path.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, I am also looking at using established hosting companies(cheaper) in the short term, but eventually want to run it all myself, with my own hardware. More fun. So that gives me 6-12 months to learn and practice.
    Last edited by happyclown; 03-30-2010 at 08:40 AM.
    OS: Linux Mint 13(Maya) LTS 64 bit.

  2. #2
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    In a word, don't.

    Performance:
    You can't possibly ever provide a similar downstream bandwidth to that of a webhost. And even if you do, your latency to your server is increased... substantially, depending on your ISP.

    License:
    I don't know what they are called over there, but you'll need a sort of merchant's business license for you to be able to process credit card information. That is, you need to register yourself as a business (and pay your taxes accordingly), which means also, you need to get your own accountant... and pay them. You then need to take this to your bank and open a merchant's account (again, possible by another name in your country), you'll then need to BUY the software gateway to the clearinghouse designated by your bank. Your bank will refuse to give you the license, or remove it from you, if you don't provide enough security in your website, meaning you'll have to become an expert in webhosting security also.

    And that's if your bank actually accepts setting up merchant accounts for credit cards transactions over the internet. Some don't. And you'll need to either move to another bank, or set your account with a Merchant's Credit Card Broker (again probably by another name in the US). And Merchant's broker are either genuine and honest, or sleazy and dishonest. And you will need to know which. And when you do and set it all up, you will be paying a higher charge per transaction than if you did directly with a bank.

    Chances are you'll also need to setup an insurance. More costs. Especially because you can't give the same level of confidence an established business does, and your payments will be much higher.

    Platform:
    A Windows platform will skyrocket your costs to a level it will take you a few good years (depending on what you are selling and how many people are buying) to start getting some profit. Windows Server 2008. Even if you don't need to setup any client access accounts, you'll be in for 1,200 USD just for the operating system. Then you'll need to buy ALL software you need to manage your website (IIS is not enough, you know), your security and your development areas. Everything needs to be bought, unless you want to go to jail for setting up a business with illegal software. And trust me, as soon as you start a business, they will be on top of you. This is not like installing a pirated copy of Windows 7 on your personal computer.

    Linux is the only reasonable choice if you want to go with this. If later you have a stable, profitable business, then you do the math and decide if you want to go Windows. For now, you don't have a choice.

    Uptime:
    You won't be able to compete with a professional hosting company in any way whatsoever. If you forget to pay the electricity bill, your ecommerce will be down. If the guys need to cut your electricity because they are doing repairs in your road, your ecommerce will be down. If there's a blackout in your area, your ecommerce will be down. If your electricity board shorted because the fuses are old and no one ever remebers about them until they fail, your ecommerce will be down. If the cat ........es on the keyboard, your ecommerce will be down... ad nausea.

    You say it's more fun. I say I've been there, I weighted it out before making a decision, and what it became obvious is that it is very expensive and that alone already makes it not fun. There's nothing fun about it. It's business.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  3. #3
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    A lot of people do this because they like playing with hardware, and that is fine, but keep in mind it will be impossibly expensive for you to get even close to the kind of performance you would by using a remote host, which I'm sure you can get what you need for <$50 month. If you're savvy, less than $20.

    If you want to do it all yourself, look into an unmanaged VPS (unfortunately, I don't know if that is done with windows). You get shell root access to a stand alone system, you install whatever software you want, you are responsible for keeping it running, etc. It's exactly the same as having the box in front of you, except you can't kill the power. I'm setting up/running a server for someone right now, and they do own the physical box (plugged it in and everything), but it is not in the same building as the office, it's kept in a rack somewhere off site. Needless to say, someone does not drive out there everyday to work on it. We do it all by remote.* I'm logged in to two of them right now, in fact. That is generally the case, I think.

    * and yes, we do it as root! No sudo nonsense!
    Last edited by MK27; 03-30-2010 at 09:47 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  4. #4
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    * and yes, we do it as root! No sudo nonsense!
    Wow. I'm all wet inside.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  5. #5
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    There is so much info online, it's somewhat bewildering.
    Come on you should know better than that. Most of the people who say that can't be arsed to look at one source, let alone two or three, to check information. The source I linked you steps you through it so you can do it. However:

    Quote Originally Posted by DSL/Cable webserver
    For people who have larger websites with their own domain names, most pay webhosting services to run their website. Basic packages run around $20 a month for 25 megabytes of disk space and 1-2 gigabytes of transfers per month. For businesses, these web hosts are important because they make regular backups and their servers are regularly maintained with good uptime and redundant connections to the Internet.

    For businesses that DEPEND on their website for productivity and income, I strongly recommend that you DO NOT attempt to run your own webserver on a DSL or cable connection. Even with a great connection and good hardware/software, you cannot compete with professional webhosts in terms of reliability and uptime. If something goes wrong with your website, YOU will be responsible for fixing the problem and dealing with all the headaches of troubleshooting. The professional web hosts have technicians on hand to oversee these problems.
    So you see, even places on the internet that champion a particular approach should say something like this. Run your personal site on your server at home; run your business's site with another company's help. With your personal site, you can gain experience without involving people who just want to shop.
    Last edited by whiteflags; 03-30-2010 at 10:01 AM.

  6. #6
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Basic packages run around $20 a month for 25 megabytes of disk space
    That's out of wack. You should get closer to 25 gigabytes for that.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  7. #7
    In my head happyclown's Avatar
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    I had actually intended to host 2-3 e-commerce sites, as well as 1-2 non-ecom sites, with room for more sites as needed.

    What I was concerned about was that I would be so involved with the technical side of things, that I wouldn't have any time for the business side. I'd be a full-time network admin, trying to run a business(s) at the same time.

    Another concern was security, particularly liability/insurance, if my sites were hacked and my customer's credit card info was accessed.

    As a matter of interest, I read somewhere that using a hosting company is 1/4 the cost of doing things yourself. I wasn't particularly worried about buying software(or hardware), that's just the cost of business.

    As suggested, I will stick with a hosting company for the business, and play around with linux/apache for fun.

    Thanks for the replies.

    PS - Just some background info. My second income is a retail business on eBay. But eBay has made alot of changes recently(mainly search algorithm and fee increases), which has had a severe negative impact on sales, so alot of sellers are creating their websites so that they are not dependant on eBay. The sellers that did this 6-12 months ago are reporting that sales have vastly outstripped that on eBay, and some sellers have left eBay completely to focus on their site. Once I have my own site, the cost of maintaining the site would be less than 15% of what eBay charges in fees to just list items.
    OS: Linux Mint 13(Maya) LTS 64 bit.

  8. #8
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Careful with anything you hear from eBay sellers... and buyers, well everyone on eBay really.

    Certainly when they claim their own eBusiness outperforms their performance on eBay only 6 to 12 months after leaving. Can be. What do I know, right? But can you see the look on my face?
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  9. #9
    chococoder
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    What noone's yet mentioned are the TOS of your ISP.
    Many will state that you're not allowed to do what you intend to do without purchasing another subscription plan with them that's specifically tailored to the scenario, a step that will cost significant money.

    And then there are the legal obligations to your paying customers, who will demand professional service, security, high uptime, regular maintenance, etc. etc. all of which you will be unable to provide as you lack the expertise to do so (if you had that expertise you'd not have to ask this question).

  10. #10
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwenting View Post
    What noone's yet mentioned are the TOS of your ISP.
    Even if they allow it, "a 512kbs ADSL internet connection" does not have 512kbs UPLOAD speed, that is the DOWNLOAD SPEED.

    Upload speeds are usually a fraction of the download. Most likely the site will be running at the rate of a pair of 56k dial-up modems.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  11. #11
    In my head happyclown's Avatar
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    I was recommend this site: BigCommerce Plans & Pricing

    Plenty of bandwidth, reasonable prices.

    I am using their 15 day free trial. Very easy and intuitive interface for opening up an eShop.

    I've already registered a domain name.

    Biggest challenge now is search engine traffic, but I have alot of experience with SEO. Hopefully I can get a decent volume of visitors within the next 6-12 months.

    Then I will leave eBay for good.
    OS: Linux Mint 13(Maya) LTS 64 bit.

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