setting up a website/webserver from an apartment
October 25, 2006 10:20 AM   Subscribe

What kind of internet provider and other stuff do I need to run a website out of my apartment?

I think I'm going to launch a website for public consumption, and I put my chances at popular success at .01% :-) For the time being, I'd rather deal with the hardware.

From what I can gather, I don't need a static IP. What would the advantage be of having one?

My current upload speed with my cable modem is a theoretical max of 512Kbps. At what point will that not be enough?

What questions do I need to ask an internet provider besides "how fast will the connection be?" and "how much will it cost me?"?

Is there a point at which it's cheaper to have root access at a host that takes care of the hardware than it is to have whatever company speed up the internet access from my apartment?
posted by mrkohrea to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
mrkohrea - is there are reason you don't want to use a web host? Not that it's not possible to do this, but most ISPs aren't cool with it and it's often not as stable as even the most bargain basement of hosts.

But the first question I would ask if you really want to go this route is "Do you allow customers to serve websites from a home connection?"
posted by FlamingBore at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2006

Is there a point at which it's cheaper to have root access at a host that takes care of the hardware than it is to have whatever company speed up the internet access from my apartment?

I don't think it ever makes sense to run a webserver from your home. Bandwidth is a small issue compared to the reliability of that bandwidth and the reliability of electricity. Go over to Webhostingtalk, and you should be able to find a provider that will give you exactly what you need, within your budget.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2006

I have a Cobalt Qube 3 connected to my cable modem which hosts my web site. In order to do that I have a "commercial" account with Comcast (and had a commercial account with RoadRunner before I moved).

That gives me a permanent IP, but that's not the point of the commercial account. Normal home users are not permitted to run servers under the terms of service.

My uplink has always been 768 kilobits and it's been plenty for what I've done, but I'm not hosting big downloads (though I do have quite a lot of pictures). Cable companies can give you greater increments of uplink capacity if you want it, though it will cost you more.

My main reason for doing it this way was that I wanted to own the server, so that I wasn't at anyone else's mercy. I set it up in the summer of 2001, back before remote server farms were common. Were I to do it today, I'd use someone like "Hosting Matters" because it would be a lot cheaper.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:33 AM on October 25, 2006

Speakeasy will let you do basically anything from home. My 6mbps/768kbps ADSL connection runs me about $120/month and they don't filter any ports. Static IP included.
posted by kdar at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2006

First question is why do you want to host out of your apartment? Hosting is an increasingly commodified business, with economies of scale you won't be able to achieve on your own. Excess capacity? Redundant networks? Redundant power? Redundant servers? 24 hour staff. Testing of the latest OS and server software patches?

Second is why do you need root access?

If you need root access, consider looking for a virtual private server plan. You should be able to find something solid, though not particularly resource rich for less than $70 month and most providers can scale your resources without more downtime than the time it takes to reboot. For $120/month you should be able to rent a whole server with 1gb memory, a 3GHz+ CPU (or equivalent), a 10 or 100Mbps connection to the net and 1+ TB of data transfer.

If you don't need root access, then you could start on shared hosting for $20 or less/month.

Also, you want a static IP because it can take IP changes time to propagate through DNS.

If this is just a fun project and you want to learn all you can about as much as you can, then by all means, host out of your apartment. But even then ask yourself, would you rather spend time on the content, design and functionality of your site, or worrying about little hosting issues that someone else could take care of you for $20/month?
posted by Good Brain at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2006

"Also, you want a static IP because it can take IP changes time to propagate through DNS."

Should read: "If you are going to host out of your apartment, you want a static IP because it can take IP changes time to propagate through DNS."
posted by Good Brain at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2006

kdar: Wow! $120/mo? I have 6/768 with for $60/mo. 8 static IPs included.

Anyway, mrkohrea, I've done the "web hosting from an apartment" bit before. If you only have one box, and expect very little traffic, it's not too bad. Just make sure that your ISP won't cut you off. Most cable providers will, and I know several people that have found themselves being cut off for running servers. Others have gotten away with it. Your mileage may vary.

The advantage of having a static IP is..
* URLs look tacky
* They often don't work
* Usually no reverse DNS, which may or may not affect you too much. it will if you're sending any email.
* You're going to need to host DNS somewhere if you're registering a domain name. It's easier to point it to a static than worry about updating DNS records every time your IP changes.

I used to have a cable modem with Comcast. My IP was changing frequently. Usually once or twice a month I'd wind up with a new IP address.
If the ISP will give you decent upstream, it's not too bad. but unlikely, most ISPs I've seen here in California offer no more than 768kbps up. Cable providers in the midwest seem to be different

If you've got the cash, you can get a T1 through Speakeasy for about $399/mo. I used to do that. Gave me geek cred, but mostly just ate money.
posted by drstein at 2:04 PM on October 25, 2006

That price is outrageous. I get 768K up link (half a T1) for $100 per month. (A normal home user pays $50, so my increment is $50.)

I'm not sure what the price list is, but I'm pretty sure I could get 1.5 megabits of uplink (speed of a T1) for about another $100 per month. And I get 8 megabits of downlink, where a T1 is only 1.5 megabits.

$400 per month for a T1 these days is highway robbery.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:40 PM on October 25, 2006

There's only one reason to host it in your own apartment, and that is if you have a strong desire to learn how to administer all aspects (hardware and software) of a web server.

Otherwise, and I tell you this from long and painful (but admittedly highly educational) experience: do not host a website yourself! It will never be cheaper than hosting it elsewhere. This is one area where increasing returns to scale (and, with them, decreasing costs) actually works for everyone.

1&1 offers really, really cheap domain name registration that includes a startup website builder.

Another excellent choice is HostMySite which has a Linux hosting plan starting at $2.95 a month (does require a $19.95 setup fee). I can tell you that HostMySite offers incredible customer service and there's no way you can get a static IP (which, as others point out, you will need) for less than that on your own.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:47 PM on October 25, 2006 Try hosting your site with them—it costs you as little as 25 cents to start, provided you already have a domain somewere else, and then you only pay for the bandwidth you and your visitors use. If you don't have a domain registered somewhere else, you can register with them for something like $7-8 a year.

It's cheaper and more reliable than hosting from home.
posted by limeonaire at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2006

I'm not sure what the price list is, but I'm pretty sure I could get 1.5 megabits of uplink (speed of a T1) for about another $100 per month. And I get 8 megabits of downlink, where a T1 is only 1.5 megabits.

$400 per month for a T1 these days is highway robbery.

a T1 isn't DSL dude. just fyi. A T1 usually means guaranteed service levels and elevated support. That's what you're paying for -- $400 might be a *little* high for a T1 these days, but you're still going to be paying upwards of $300. That said, I will agree that neither you or the poster needs a T1 -- but I'm not willing to concede that this indicates no-one has a need for them.

mrkohrea: Depending on what you're doing, bandwidth is probably going to be the first bottleneck you hit with your application. Also, keep in mind that your downstream can be affected if your upstream is saturated. If you're not "open to the public" yet, i'd work on your own computer. After that, I'd pay for hosting -- it'd suck if you got a ton of traffic and your computer fell over under it. Hosting can be had for less than $10/month, which is probably what you'll be paying for a static ip or dynamic DNS services anyways.

posted by fishfucker at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2006

This question has come up a few times now, hasn't it? I can definitely recall the same answers: "it will violate your terms of service", "a personal account has a better download the upload rate", "hosting is cheap and easy, why bother?" and so on.

I'm trying to think of a good metaphor for this impulse.
"Running a web server out of your home is like ____"
How about "it's like keeping a cow in your apartment so that you've always got milk"?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:57 PM on October 25, 2006

"$400 per month for a T1 these days is highway robbery."

Uh, no, it's not. You're insane if you think that it is. Your home ADSL line isn't equal to a T1. fishfucker is right, you're paying for the SLA and support levels. I never had a single outage with the Speakeasy T1 circuits I used.

If you find an actual T1 (NOT a DSL line) for $200/mo, send me the link, because I've never ever seen one that cheap, and I've been shopping for circuits for a very long time.

I used to work at a place that had an ADSL line. They fell for the 6mbit down bit. The "IT guy" was always saying "it's as fast as 4 T1s!" but it was not. It was slower than crap, flaky as hell, and was offline more than off. Huge packet loss, the works. We replaced it with a T1 (yes, from Speakeasy) that cost $499 at the time, and pretty much every connectivity problem we had went away.

DSL != T1. Although some CLECs will run an HDSL2 circuit, the two still aren't comparable.
posted by drstein at 8:48 PM on October 25, 2006

Currently running my own server out of my apartment...largely so I can play around with whatever combination of server OS and software I fancy that week.

I'm using AceDSL who basically provided me with a static IP and left me to do as I please ever since. They charge me about 60 dollars a month for that. The bandwidth is adequate for my needs, as long as no one links to me on a site like digg or slashdot.

Caveat: my page is not a commercial venture, so I'm not going to lose any sleep if the site's inaccessible.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2006

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