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  1. #1
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    Knowledge of servers needed.

    Of all the time I have spent making and maintaining a few websites, I have never really understood hosting or servers. If you want to host your own website, how do you do that? What exactly is the advantage to owning your own server? I think I understand what Apache is, but are there any similar applications to it? What machine would I buy to install apache and the rest of the web hosting programs on? WTF is bandwidth, how is it measured, and how do I get the most of it?

    Sorry if I seem really newbie at this, but all I have known to do so far is hit the publish button on MS Frontpage (even though I dont use it for editing pages, only for form bots cause I dont know how to make those on my own). Any links or replies would be a big help. Thanks!

    -Ben

  • #2
    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    To host your website you need webserver software, database software as well as managment stuff. Also you would be wanting a static IP address and a fairly fast internet connection, however www.dslwebserver.com is quite interesting.

    On my home server I have Apache, php, mysql, phpmyadmin, webalizer, filezilla server etc....Its a 1.2ghz athlon with 1GB ram and runs ok, however I don't have a static IP or a decently fast internet connection (512kb/s atm which is ok but nothing special)

    bandwidth is data which is transfered from the server to the clients browser/computer. If a website uses a lot of bandwith every month then it slows the server's internet connection down etc.

    There are several alternativies to Apache, mainly IIS. However IIS is Microsoft created and runs ASP (ACTIVE SERVER PAGES) not PHP. If you're just going to run a small html site with nothing server side or you don't know any ASP then IIS is ok but I prefer Apache in the long run. I heard IIS has php support but I also heard it was crap

    There are a few advantages of running your own server - you don't need to pay for hosting, you can manage it yourself etc. However its sometimes easier to pay for hosting and let someone else manage the web server if you don't have the experience of managing your own web server. Also having paid -for hosting is less hassle IMO.

    HTH

    Jamie.

  • #3
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    Ok, I think I'm with you, but I got some more questions:

    I'm part of a small business (10 people in the office itself) and we have one PC as our "server" computer. It has all our business files stored on it that we access from various programs (not all of them M$ programs belive it or not). The server also stores our pictures, pdfs, website files, and any other thing that is shared across all the other pcs.

    We need to upgrade it pretty badly, but Im not sure if we just upgrade to a better pc, or if we get an actual server to run NT or something on. What are the benefits to our office by buying one of these guys? We will probably not be hosting our own webpage, as our internet speed is nothing incredible (DSL, like you).

    I guess I just dont understand the difference of the Intel Xenon blee blah blue servers versus just a custom PC with a big HDD on it that shares our files. What is the big difference in the two? What is so great about NT-ish servers?

  • #4
    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exis
    I guess I just dont understand the difference of the Intel Xenon blee blah blue servers versus just a custom PC with a big HDD on it that shares our files. What is the big difference in the two? What is so great about NT-ish servers?
    Well it depends...At school we have dual Athlon XP servers with do us fine, howver we are slowly replacing them with Dual Xeon 2.8ghz servers. Xeons are more powerful than the athlons and are the industry standard as server processors. If you're looking for a lot of power, get a Intel Xeon based system

    NT is "New Technology" - Microsoft's base for the Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 system. Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 Standard/Enterprise are just about the most widely used Server operating systems for servers in schools, offices etc. Having large hard disks is essential in servers if you have a lot to store.

  • #5
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    You could run for example Windows 2003 server on any computer with sufficent computing power, it doesn't have to be like this special "server" computer with multiple processors or anything. You'd gain lots of new features if you started using that OS or the like on your server, like you could have people have their own network accounts and use those to log onto their computers and you can use filesystem security to restrict access to certain files to certain people. You can host your site locally on it for tesitng purposes, use group policy to restrict what people can do on their computer like as far as changing settings and stuff.

    If you are just going to be using it for serving out files, maybe user authentication, nothing big like using it as a database server for a lot of databases or anything that takes a lot of processing power, you can just use a decent single processor system with a fair ammount of memory, put 1 GB in to be safe, and then you can have lots of disk space for storing your files.
    OracleGuy

  • #6
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    I have done so much reading on servers over the weekend/today that I feel I am starting a degree in Network Administration! Ok so heres what I got so far re: info and remaining questions:

    I want to start out with 1G Ram DDR2, 1 Processor (mid 2GHz Xenon probably) but have the ability for 2, 2 SCSI drives in a RAID at about 100Gig min, and cluster configuration ability, all in a rackmount form.

    Any suggestions on what I should get, or does this sound good? What OS should I use and why? Also, anyone know about how much $USD this will cost, or even a good spot to buy one?

    Thanks-

  • #7
    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    Yeah that sounds good....most servers use DDR Registered ECC RAM but that is quite expensive

    I've always thought Xeon Processors worked best in pairs but it'll still work fine single. In terms of HDDs, you can get a pair of 68/80 pin SCSI HDDs with a capacity of about 160GB and then RAID them. However SATA is becoming cheaper but still isn't as fast as SCSI

    In terms of OS, it depends on what you are going to be using the server for. If all your PCs are MS based then I would either go for Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 Standard or Enterprise. Seeing as it is quite a small network then Standard would be a better choice as your network is smaller and a licence for it is cheaper. However 2003 Enterprise is flipping excellent - much more scalable than 2003 standard but you wouldn't use all the features of it I wouldn't have thought

    Jamie.

  • #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by weazel
    I've always thought Xeon Processors worked best in pairs but it'll still work fine single. In terms of HDDs, you can get a pair of 68/80 pin SCSI HDDs with a capacity of about 160GB and then RAID them. However SATA is becoming cheaper but still isn't as fast as SCSI
    Xeon processors will work fine as a single processor.

    Also be careful when you are just throwing around techno-jargon. "and then RAID them" that is a very... inexperienced phrase.

    Think carefully about your hard drive configuration you have lots of options. One method would be have to arrays, one for the system and then one for your data. In your situation you could probably go with SATA drives which would be cheaper instead of SCSI and be fine since I'd assume being a small business price is a big concern. Regardless of what type of drive you use, you could do several different configurations based on how much money you have and how much redundency you want.

    The most logical configuration would be having two smaller drives, like two 74GB drives in a RAID 1 configuration which is mirroring as your system/boot drive. With mirroring, the OS thinks there is just one drive but as the name suggests, whatever is on the first drive is mirrored onto the second. So if the first drive were to suffer a hardware failure, you could just unplug it and reboot the system and be set to go and not have to re-setup your server. Now for your data array, depending on how much actual storage you want, like capacity-wise, would determine the actual number and size of the drives but you would want to use RAID 5. This offers the protection where lets say you had 5 drives in a RAID 5 configuration, you'd get the size of the drive times one less of the number of drives. So lets say drive number 4 fails, you can pull it out, replace it will a new drive and using the parity information on the other drives, it can rebuild the data that was on the failed hard drive. You can typically lose 25% of a RAID 5 array and still be able to rebuild it without any worries. That way while you still might want to consider using like a tape backup to protect your data, it offers some good protection against data loss.

    I hope I haven't confused you too much.
    OracleGuy

  • #9
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    I have a message put in to M$ requesting a phone call or internet chat to talk about options for an OS, see what it can and can't do beyond my initial research. As far as Enterprise goes, I think I will just get either the standard or business editions, because by the time we need a bigger OS, I expect Longhorn server to be released.

    What is the difference between DDR2 and DDR Registered ECC RAM? Most of the servers for sale that have the rest of my specs only offer SATA or IDE support, cant find anything with SCSI, so is it that big of a deal or do I just settle with SATA RAIDing?

  • #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exis
    Most of the servers for sale that have the rest of my specs only offer SATA or IDE support, cant find anything with SCSI, so is it that big of a deal or do I just settle with SATA RAIDing?
    You'd most likely be fine with SATA in your enviorment since there are only 10 or so people using this server, unless you are all really moving a lot of data on that server, it will probably be fine.

    If you want to use SCSI though, you can buy SCSI controller add-in cards.
    OracleGuy

  • #11
    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exis
    What is the difference between DDR2 and DDR Registered ECC RAM?
    Well ECC RAM [Error correcting code / Error control and correction] includes method of checking the integrity of data in DRAM. ECC provides more elaborate error detection than parity; ECC can detect multiple-bit errors and can locate and correct single-bit errors.

    It's better in servers and high end workstations because of it's higher reliability but it is more expensive...

  • #12
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    One more thing I just thought to worry about: Connectivity within the workgroup.

    Right now the office is at 802.11g (Super G enabled on the D-Link AirPlus setup...) all going to a central WiFi Hub, no big deal so far. So now I introduce the server I built above. I am not totally sure exactly what to connect where, any one have experience here? And another thing: What ethernet card should I get for my server? What is the most I can get without outdoing my wi-fi speeds?

    Edit: Do I really need something like the LSI Single-Channel 2Gb/s Fiber Channel or what? Oh yeah, and lets say we need to upgrade in the future and I have 2 servers that I want to put in clustering configuration...how do I do that? Thanks again

    Thanks, you guys have helped a ton so far!
    Last edited by Exis; 06-22-2005 at 01:20 AM.

  • #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exis
    One more thing I just thought to worry about: Connectivity within the workgroup.

    Right now the office is at 802.11g (Super G enabled on the D-Link AirPlus setup...) all going to a central WiFi Hub, no big deal so far. So now I introduce the server I built above. I am not totally sure exactly what to connect where, any one have experience here? And another thing: What ethernet card should I get for my server? What is the most I can get without outdoing my wi-fi speeds?

    Edit: Do I really need something like the LSI Single-Channel 2Gb/s Fiber Channel or what? Oh yeah, and lets say we need to upgrade in the future and I have 2 servers that I want to put in clustering configuration...how do I do that? Thanks again
    Lol, a fiber connection will out-class your wi-fi connection by leaps and bounds. Ideally what you could do is plug your server into your WiFi hub giving it a wired connection to it. If you want to give your self some room for the future just get a single port or if you wanted a dual port gigabit ethernet network adapter, it will still work at 100Base-T which is the faster your WiFi switch most likely supports but if you ever were to go bigger and get like an enterprise level switch that had some gigabit ports, you could plug your server into those. Also if you decide to get a dual port network card, make sure to compare prices between a card that has two ports and just getting to single cards, the latter might be cheaper.

    Some reasoning behind having dual network cards would just be plain scalability plus you could plug the second card into your existing network to help boost the bandwidth on the server if that becomes a problem. Or you could use the second card if you want to have another isolated network that you wanted to link with your current one and the file server can act as a router. Or if you wanted to run your internet through it you could do that too but if you wanted to do that you wouldn't need a gigabit card for that, since you internet connection isn't going to be any where close to those kinds of speeds.

    Does that make sense?
    OracleGuy

  • #14
    Regular Coder Exis's Avatar
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    Yup, totally clear. That is what I thought would be the case, but I just needed some confirmation. Thanks

    I think I am done with questions for now, but I am sure more will arise later on, so I will repost when they come up. Thanks again for all your help guys.


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