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Web Server and Internet Access Considerations
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Every Web site needs a properly configured server to store files as well as the server software to communicate with Web browsers. The server may be a computer dedicated solely to a single Web site or shared by multiple sites. While the server may be used for other purposes at the same time, this is not recommended for high-traffic sites.

There are four primary server options for establishing your Web site:

  • Store your Web pages on someone else's computer.
  • Have the pages hosted on a remote server with your own domain.
  • Lease or acquire your own server managed by someone else.
  • Acquire and manage your own server.

  1. Store your Web pages on someone else's computer. Possible sites to investigate include your Internet access provider, a local community network, a school or university or other commercial service. For a fee, many of these providers host your Web files on their server within their domain name.

    A "domain name" is an electronic address on the Internet, for example, Action Inc. might hold a domain name of The ".com", pronounced "dot com," means the company has registered itself in the commercial domain. Other domains you will see include

    • .gov (government)
    • .mil (military)
    • .edu (education)
    • .org (non-profit organizations) and
    • .net (networks).

    Additionally, you will see addresses employing a geographic standard or "country domain," such as for a computer in San Francisco, California, US. Most types of dial-up Internet connections do not require you to "own" your own domain name. When you acquire an Internet connection which does require one, your Internet service provider will register yours for you.

    A small company, like Startup, Inc. might rent Web page service on the "" host. Startup Inc.'s Web "address" might then look like this:

    Renting space on someone else's host, using their domain name, has many advantages:

    • This is the simplest and least expensive option, suitable for personal Web pages or small sites.
    • The Web presence provider typically has a high speed Internet connection.
    • The provider typically has 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service and support, should there be a network outage or hardware failure.
    • Your technical skills do not have to be high.
    • The presence provider will offer you terms and conditions guaranteeing network performance. They may also provide you with customized scripting, statistics collection and other services.
    • Some corporations have security concerns not met by conventional electronic firewalls, and would rather have their "public information server" completely off the corporate network.

  2. Have the pages hosted on a remote server, but acquire your own domain name. A domain name identifies your site on the Internet. Concise and clearly identifiable domain names, using the conventional pattern "www.sitename" will make it much easier for people to find you. Usually this requires slightly more expense.
  3. .

  4. Lease or acquire your own server, kept at your site, but managed remotely by an Internet presence or access provider. It is more expensive, but provides considerably more control and flexibility. More knowledge is usually required, depending upon the management agreement with the service provider. This may be the best option for fairly complex sites with medium to high amounts of traffic.

  5. Acquire your own server and configure and maintain it yourself within your own organization. This provides the maximum level of control and flexibility, but takes a very high degree of technical expertise and the largest financial investment. Still, if you have the resources, this may be the preferred option for large sites with a lot of traffic.

While many individuals and organizations manage their own servers, most opt to have a vendor or some other provider run complex servers for them. For your Web site to be a serious communications tool, all software and files must be configured and installed properly and they must be maintained, upgraded and serviced when necessary. You will also want the fastest and most reliable connections, 24-hour availability and the ability to deal with many thousands of visits per day. And you'll need to have enough storage space to install all your files and software, plus keep a backup of everything, should disaster fall.

You'll need enough computer speed and power to perform the functions your users expect and the ability to stay up-to-date on the best software and hardware available for your uses. You may, for example, be pleasantly surprised by the traffic you receive on your site, but it may mean you have to upgrade your system to accommodate it. Except in large or very technically savvy organizations, it pays to let someone else handle these concerns, but it also pays to understand the issues when selecting vendors.

In addition to the server, you will need a connection to the Internet as described in Accessing the Internet and Other Network Services. Many access providers will provide space on one of their servers for your Web site or operate a server for you. So will Internet Presence Providers who also offer planning, design, site development and other services. See Using Vendors for more information.

When thinking about connections, you should also consider the speed/bandwidth of the connection you will use. Organizations that expect high traffic or want to use the most sophisticated graphics and multimedia available will want to consider a vendor who can supply them with high-speed access.

If you are interested in setting up your own Web server and acquiring your own Internet connection and/or domain area on the Internet, you will need a thorough grounding in Web server software, Web server configuration and maintenance, acquiring a domain name, and acquiring Internet access. To obtain server software visit either of the following sites:

Yahoo's List of Web Server Software:

For assistance in setting up your own Web server, use the following resources:


  • Running a Perfect Web Site
    By David Chandler, QUE.
  • Managing Internet Information Services
    By Cricket Liu, et. al., O'Reilly.

Magazine Articles Online:

Newsgroups About Server Issues:

  • news:comp.infosystems.www.servers.mac Comp Infosystems Macintosh
  • news:comp.infosystems.www.servers.unix for Comp Infosystems Unix
  • for Comp Infosystems Windows

Mailing List Concerned With Technical Issues:

To subscribe, send an email with the following information in the body of the message:

subscribe your_name

Be sure to remove any signature information.

You may also want to investigate the following subjects:

Anyone considering managing their own server will also likely want to manage the creation of Web pages. For resources on HTML coding and page design, see the section on Design Considerations.

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