For the past couple of years, I have been hosting my personal/experimental/demo Web sites using an entry-level dedicated. A dedicated server, even if it is run on a Pentium D processer with 2 GB memory, provides excellent freedom compared to shared-hosting. Freedom is seldom cheap, and this bit of freedom has been costing me between $125 to $175 per month. Even though my sites, including this blog, are not entirely vital and do not demand uninterrupted uptime, but some of the sites do receive significant traffic stream.
Recently I began considering the idea of running my server from home, so a few weeks back, I took the initiative and followed through on my idea. Since then, my server has had 100% up-time, has run faster than the old dedicated server ever did, and sits conveniently right under my TV stand. Best of all, the new setup cost significantly less money. Here is a description of my setup.
A good internet connection is key to “running your web server from home”. I have been using Optimum Online for the past five years or so, and I am extremely happy with their 10 Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speed. Even though, technically, I have a dynamic IP, my IP hasn’t changed since day one. For hosting, however, I switched to the Optimum Boost package, which costs $10 more a month. For the extra cost, I receive 30Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads, but most importantly, I have port 80 and 25 open. Optimum also offers the option of 101Mbps for downloads and 15Mbps uploads. That costs $55 more per month, and I don't need of that sort of speed.
A Cisco-Linksys WRT54GL Linux-compatible Router, which I had already been using for more than a year. I has dd-wrt firmware installed, whitch has been perfectly capable of handling my traffic so far.
Even though Dell offer fairly decent entry-level servers for less than $400, I decided to build my own server after I finished browsing MicroCenter and Amazon.
- Intel i5 650 3.20GHz Processer : $140
- ASUS P7H55-M Pro mATX Motherboard : $85
- Apex DM-387 slimline - micro ATX Casing and power supply : $50
- Corsair XMS3 4 GB 1333MHz PC3-10666 : $52
- Hitachi Deskstar 500GB 7,200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s : $50
-- Total $377
I already had a valid Carbonite backup subscription (55$ a year), so I transferred it from the old server to the new one. Restoration was extremely easy. Carbonite is good at backing up MS Sql database files, cfm, html, and so on, as well as PostgreSQL Dump files. However, now that I have physical access to my server, I will add a Thermaltake BlacX Docking Station ($40) and a Western Digital 1.5 TB Caviar ($60) backup drive. I may be able to backup my personal files on there as well.
Since I’m on a dynamic IP, I need a DDNS service to redirect my domain names to the new server. NO-IP and dynDNS are the most popular ones, but they are also the most expensive. Instead, I found thatip.com, which costs just $10 per a year for 10 hostnames (practically 3 domain names), and dnspark.com which cost $9 per domain per year. I divided my domains between these two services, and both work pretty well so far. I do like dnspark.com a bit better, because they offer a large DNS query quota per month.
Update : I moved some of my domains to Hover.com. Even though Hover not yet support full DDNS, they do support DNS. They are planning to support DDNS soon.
With a two-year-old child and two jobs, I don’t have time for Linux. So, for couple of days, I did a thorough search of eBay for an operating system. I finally found a relatively cheap Windows 2008 Standard, 64-bit license with the original disk. I was bit worried it may be fake, but I was able to install it, validate it, activate it, and update it, all with no problems.
I’m still using a CF license from my old server, but as soon as I get some free time– hopefully during this holiday break –I will configure Railo.
For e-mail, I played around with mailEnable and hMailServer finally deciding that hMailServer was the most suitable.
Running a server from home is not as ideal as running your server in a data center, but datacenters aren’t perfect either –unless the datacenter is rackspace. Well, perfection is expensive ($9240 a year?). If a rainstorm brings down the entire infrastructure of my neighborhood, and my server goes down for a day, I can live with that. How many times did power fail in NY during the last 5 years? Zero! In the meantime, I have the joy of running my own web server form my own living room.