Customer Servers

Why Not Host Your Own Website

It's not completely unheard of for even quite small companies to host their own website. In simple terms it's not that difficult to set up. You would need:

  1. A suitable server set up.
  2. The necessary licensed software. For example Windows 2016 Server.
  3. A suitable location to physically place your server.
  4. A power supply with backup in case of mains failure.
  5. A suitable router and firewall to both connect to the Internet and protect you from intrusion.
  6. A suitable Internet connection with enough bandwidth to serve your visitors.

A Suitable Server Set Up

The power and number of servers you require to host your website can depend on many things, however a website can start quite literally with a single server that costs a few hundred pounds. The number of servers required has a lot to do with the content of your website and the importance of your website to your business. For example a small website with occasional images and no video content from a performance perspective would work perfectly well on a single server installation. However single server installations do have one main failing, and that is if anything happens to that server your website is down while the problem is fixed. A simple way around this problem is to use two or more servers in what is known as a web farm. When a visitor comes to your site a service known as load balancing allocates a server to respond to their request. However if one of the servers is unavailable then the load balancing simply removes it from the available servers until the issue is fixed. When the problem is fixed the server comes back on line as if it had never been away.

The Necessary Licensed Software

Our websites are built on Microsoft's DotNet Core 2 framework. It's the most recent version of this framework and we use it because it's not tied to a specific operating system. We run it on Microsoft Windows 2016 Server, but it can just as easily work on macOS, or Linux. In fairness your choice of operating system will probably be guided by other factors. One of the most obvious being ease of use and ease of support. We recommend Microsoft Windows 2016.

In addition to the operating system you will also need database server software. Again we tend to stick with Microsoft's SQL Server, but you can use other database servers. You will also want an anti-virus solution for your server to protect it from unwanted threats.

A Suitable Location

Finding a location for your server is fairly straightforward. It needs to be dry and relatively cool as you don't want the machine to overheat on a hot day. The server should also be secure as it will hold visitor data or other important files and the last thing you want is for someone to literally walk in a carry it away. For this reason your server should be in a lockable room and inside a locked cabinet as well.

In addition to powering the server you do of course also need to power any network equipment necessary for the server to keep in connection with the outside world. Such devices are usually very low powered and can often be fed off the same UPS.

A Power Supply With Backup

Your server will need mains power supply and ideally an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is a device which sits between the mains supply and the server's power input, and in the event there is a power cut the unit generates it's own mains output from the internal battery and keeps the server running. As far as the server is concerned there isn't even the tiniest break in supply. A UPS will typically provide power for around an hour or more which is usually enough to bridge a short power outage.

In addition to powering the server you do of course also need to power any network equipment necessary for the server to keep in connection with the outside world. Such devices are usually very low powered and can often be fed off the same UPS.

In the event that the power is not restored in time the UPS will signal to the server that it is about to run out of power and the server will then automatically shut itself down tidily to prevent damage and lost data.

A Router and Firewall

If you already have an Internet service then you will almost certainly have a router and firewall. They are often part of the same unit and are frequently provided by your Internet service provider. Unfortunately many ISP provided devices aren't really up to the job so you may be looking at purchasing an alternative. We thoroughly recommend the DrayTek Vigor serious of routers and firewalls. There are competitively priced and work very well. They have a number of useful features and have proven to be very reliable.

Your router and firewall will need to be configured but if you've taken our guidance then we will be able to help you achieve this.

A Suitable Internet Connection

To host a website you need a business grade Internet connection. For many websites a well performing fibre broadband connection may well suffice. Unlike your home broadband you will be more interested in the upload speed rather than the download. A typical fibre broadband connection will upload at around 8Mbs which is more than adequate for many website scenarios. If your website is media rich however you may want to consider a faster connection.

Internet connections do from time to time have issues, they are virtually unavoidable. If your Internet connection goes down then so does your website and any other services supported by it. To give you a fail-safe around this you may want to consider a second Internet connection which in the event of a failure will kick in as a backup. All the DrayTek Vigor routers we recommend feature the ability to use more than one Internet connection. So if your primary connection fails it will switch over seamlessly to your backup line. In fact with some of the models you can actually use both connections simultaneously giving you great bandwidth and load balancing.