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  Post #1 (permalink)   10-07-2010, 06:52 AM
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Hi All.

I'm posting this to try and address what I think are some rather important issues that exist with an old thread (hardware-server-configuration/21965-running-server-home.html).

Clearly the majority of the advice here suggests that you should not run serious hosting from home /home office. Is this just vested interests? Look at the posters. Most are from people connected to hosting companies, so that's exactly what you'd expect. Fair enough. Also and with respect, some of the people asking the question seem inexperienced in IT infrastructure. That's the point of asking for help at a forum. I think that this is skewing the advice.

I can offer the following experiences:-

1. I've been running a (admittedly) couple of smallish sites from my home office successfully for three years. They are dynamic sites with back end databases. I also host a test site, dev site and the email server.
2. Not been hacked once but I have a DMZ protecting the server.
3. I only monitor the last 30 days, but I achieve 99.9% uptime over that period. This is not a guess, but is monitored by software. There are posters in this thread that advertise the same uptime in their sigs.
4. What are the real uptime figures for hosting companies? Are they even published? Do they include scheduled maintenance? I read a post about a mainstream hoster that shut down for a week to upgrade their UPS system. If uptime was important to all of them, there would be a system of refunds /credits for missing their SLAs. I've yet to see an advert for that.
5. I get root access, and need to run stuff other than just a bit of Apache and PHP.
6. It's cheap. A server of the same spec will cost me £50 /month. That's 50 pounds not dollars. Admittedly there's unlimited traffic, but see point 11 below...
7. It's very flexible. If I need some additional disk space for data transfer /storage etc., I can do something a simple as plug in a 1 TB USB drive.
8. I am responsible for the system and it's operation. So, I cannot be drawn into a situation where the hosting company says it's my fault, and I think that it's their fault. Another example from other forums – server keeps rebooting so hosting company blames the customer for messing with the OS. Customer says he hasn't. Situation continued for months with unbelievable downtime.
9. No contract lock in if you need to change something.
10. Most of the hosting providers for the tech savy do allow customers to run servers and do not block any ports.
11. I have a 850 kbps upstream ADSL connection. This can support the users I currently expect as remember that if you control your graphics, that's equivalent to 15 concurrent 56k modems. Also factor in that most images are cached at the browser level. Note (this is important), this means many more concurrent users as not everyone will be downloading at absolutely exactly the same time.
12. Many many small companies run internet facing services from their offices. How is this any different? Not every SME hosts their IT infrastructure externally. I know someone who works for a small company that monitors an incredible list of clients and they monitor from their office.

I'm not trying to slam the hosting providers. This is not meant to be a rant (even though it could be taken that way). When my business takes off and starts threatening Google, I'll probably need to move to a provider. But it'll cost me a lot. The point I'm trying make is that the host@home question is a lot more complex than “just don't do it”. I thought long and hard about it. I hope that my successful experience leads others to consider this option seriously.
 
 


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  Post #2 (permalink)   10-07-2010, 08:30 AM
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Congrats on your success so far. You make some good points, but I still wouldn't recommend hosting with ANY home-based provider. Redundancy is the key.
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  Post #3 (permalink)   10-07-2010, 11:06 PM
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I think you've made some valid points in your post. The key on your post however is that you state that you're running small sites, dev sites and email. I encourage everyone (who has the knowledge/skill) to run their own server locally if they're testing things. This will save you money in the long run if your development is going to take a long period of time. The only issue that you might run into is that when you choose a host to put your site live with, you may run into some conflicts with how your personal server was configured and how the datacenter server was configured, but if you know what you're doing, you can get around that.

Personally, my websites have to be online 100% of the time at all hours of the day. Multiple servers takes care of that, and if my ISP would let me (which it doesn't), I'd run a server from home as a backup mail server or for overflow traffic on some small scale sites.

The big issue has to do with reliability and redundancy as Steve mentioned. I maintain just over a dozen servers at local offices for real estate and mortgage and legal firms. Most of these require the servers for internal use rather than external use, but there are 3 small businesses that I cater to that run external facing websites on their server. Works like a charm - but then they have a business line into their office and are setup to operate a server from their facility.

The point I'm making there is not that you can't do it from home, but if you're running a business that requires you to be online all the time (ecommerce etc), paying the $50/month is a drop in the bucket for what it would cost for *MY* services to maintain your office computer! Much like someone who is paying $2.00/month for hosting services can usually afford to be offline for a few minutes or even an hour. If they could not afford the downtime and are loosing hundreds or thousands of dollars per hour (as so many thread state), then really the question is why was the person on a $2/month account

One other item that would go along with your point on #11 is that if you configure your site to also use a CDN you can save a TON of bandwidth and improve speed to having these graphics and common files on an international Delivery Network rather than a single machine.

If you're ever in the market to pick up some older P4 rack mount systems, let me know and I'll gladly sell you some dirt cheap - of course shipping to England might cost you an arm and a leg
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  Post #4 (permalink)   10-12-2010, 02:11 PM
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Interesting post, congratulations about your sucess But i would listen to handsonhosting and i agree with him aswell.
 
 
 


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  Post #5 (permalink)   11-22-2010, 07:56 AM
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Good to hear your success. We started out in a basement in 2000 on an iMac connected to a commercial cable service, got a few simple customers, moved to a local datacenter a year later, got a G4 Server, then things got a whole lot easier. But some of the issues we had to deal with in the basement cable modem days were just a nightmare to deal with. I can't imagine doing something like that today. It seems like it would be a lot worse.

One of the biggest issues with a home office based server is not having a dedicated IP or reverse DNS. A mail server shouldn't work so well without that. 10 years ago you could get away with it but now with blacklisting dynamic addresses, thats kind of impossible unless your using a third party SMTP server or perhaps you have a commercial level plan that gives you those features. We didn't back in the day.

With web hosting prices what they are today, its a WHOLE lot easier to start off. You can get a Mac Mini in a datacenter for less than $500 a year. That was unheard of years ago. To get our G4 in a datacenter back in 2000 would have cost us $500 a month! We were fortunate that we knew someone.

Good luck with your endeavor, my words of wisdom, you'll sleep better at night when the server isn't in the home or home office!
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  Post #6 (permalink)   11-22-2010, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
2. Not been hacked once but I have a DMZ protecting the server.
A DMZ does not protect the server, it actually does quite the opposite. A DMZ completely exposes the selected IP address(s) to the Internet while keeping the remainder of your network blocked.

A better, more safe choice would be to use port forwarding. That way only the necessary ports (80, 21, 25, etc.) are exposed to the Internet.
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  Post #7 (permalink)   03-20-2011, 07:26 PM
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It's fine for your own websites provided that your sites don't max out your upload bandwidth and you're happy with the uptime. You also get to learn a lot about server administration.

The difference between one 9 in a uptime calculation is ten-fold. 99.9% uptime means 44 minutes of downtime per month. The extra 9 in a 99.99% uptime guarantee means just 4 minutes of downtime.

I have a friend who hosts his company website at his office and has been perfectly happy. The site doesn't get enough traffic to need the uptime of a good hosting provider. If the power or Internet connection goes out, the company won't lose much, if any, business. On the other hand, some of our customers can't tolerate a 15 minute outage.
 
 


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  Post #8 (permalink)   04-23-2011, 09:48 PM
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I see many businesses running their critical and non-critical services from their office. As long as you understand the risk and can accept it with your business operations then I see no reason not to.

However, More often then not I see companies running their critical email server, and other services from within their office. Many on a single DSL or T1 connection. There are many advantages to taking this service to a datacenter, I also have also worked with more then one business that had a break in and their servers walked out the door. There are always advantages to keeping your critical IT hardware in a 24x7x365 staffed location, the question is the cost something your business can justify when weighted with the reliability and critical nature of the services.
 
 


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  Post #9 (permalink)   04-26-2011, 08:50 AM
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I hosted from my house years ago. Then I quickly realized it was cheaper to colo in the long run. I sent 1 server to CiHost back then. It was $50 a month for 1u of space with 1500 gigs of transfer. I wish I would have done this to begin with as it would have saved me a couple thousand. Anyways glad to hear you got it working but it is worth putting stuff in a Data Center with redundancy like many others have stated! Good luck!
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  Post #10 (permalink)   05-22-2011, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COSSOFT View Post
11. I have a 850 kbps upstream ADSL connection. This can support the users I currently expect as remember that if you control your graphics, that's equivalent to 15 concurrent 56k modems. Also factor in that most images are cached at the browser level. Note (this is important), this means many more concurrent users as not everyone will be downloading at absolutely exactly the same time.
What happens when Joe the guy that lives down the road cuts into your telephone cable by accident or your ISP has some issues?

Hosting your own stuff from home is fine if you know what your doing and know the limitations but charging other people and hosting it from home is outright wrong.
 
 
 


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  Post #11 (permalink)   05-23-2011, 12:10 AM
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Probably overstating the obvious here - but questions I would have are:

1) If you are operating a service from home, and the uptime is monitored, is this monitoring done from a seperate geographic location?
2) Does the parent Internet provider allow their bandwidth to be re-sold? I know many (if not most) of the ISP's in Australia MAY allow services to be ran on your personal connection, but DO NOT allow them to be sold in any way.
3) How does one handle IP addresses that are not static?

Personally, I like the idea of setting up services from home and running them - I just dont know how feasable it is to resell them.
 
 
 


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  Post #12 (permalink)   07-16-2011, 05:04 AM
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11. I have a 850 kbps upstream ADSL connection.
Are you serious? That's nowhere near what any decent host should have if you have more than 1 website running. Even if you could run a dozen sites with that connection, your ISP is going to pull the plug on you at some point.

All in all I think you're thinking about this entire hosting thing a little bit too simple. What happens when your internet connection fails, the power goes out, your house burns down? Do you expect to be taken seriously when people ask where your servers are located and you tell them in your bedroom?

When you have a server in a datacenter you get redundancy and protection. Multiple high amp power lines, multiple high bandwidth data connections. A backup generator that can last the entire datacenter for 48 hours in case of complete failure. Security doors, fire prevention systems, air conditioning to keep the servers alive for as long as possible.

You and your bedroom hosted server have none of that. That leads me to conclude that this:

Quote:
The point I'm trying make is that the host@home question is a lot more complex than “just don't do it”
is actually very accurate. Just don't do it. Reselling a service that unstable should be a crime, to be honest.
 
 
 


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  Post #13 (permalink)   07-16-2011, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COSSOFT View Post
8. I am responsible for the system and it's operation. So, I cannot be drawn into a situation where the hosting company says it's my fault, and I think that it's their fault. Another example from other forums – server keeps rebooting so hosting company blames the customer for messing with the OS. Customer says he hasn't. Situation continued for months with unbelievable downtime.
Good for you if you know your way around, but consider that it is not 100% of the population that knows how to manage a server and that has the time to do so/the infrastructure.

Many people will need support, management, help and auto-configurations.
 
 
 
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