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Dated: Aug. 13, 2004
Ever wanted to run your own home web server? Now you can! This article will give you the lowdown on Microsoft web servers and third party web servers for use on Windows operating systems.
Note that running your own home server in most cases will not be a sufficient replacement for a proper web host, if you are running sites that you need the general public to have access to. Running your own public web server will also require, among other things, a permanent high-speed internet connection, a power backup solution, and a computer and server software that can handle the amount of visitors you'll be receiving. These topics are all out of the scope of this article.
Personal Web Server (PWS) and Internet Information Services (IIS) are the two web servers that Microsoft has created for Windows users. IIS is used in some large hosting corporations, but you can also use it at home. PWS is only useful at home because it supports only a low number of simultaneous users.
Which server you use also depends on which operating system you are using. Follow the instructions below for the details on obtaining and installing the appropriate server for your computer.
Windows 95/Windows 98/Windows NT
These versions of Windows use Personal Web Server (PWS). This can be found on your Windows 98 CD, or downloaded from Microsoft's website as part of the NT4 Option Pack. To download, start at this page: http://search.microsoft.com/en-us/DownloadResults.aspx?q=nt%20server, then choose the version of Windows you are running. If you are running Windows 98, selecting Windows 95 will be fine, because there is no Windows 98 option. Next, follow the instructions given to you, and it should all be straight forward!
Once you have the files downloaded or copied from your CD, run the setup program. Follow the instructions, restart your computer at the end, and it's all done!
Windows 2000/Windows XP Professional
These versions of Windows use Internet Information Services (IIS). You can install this onto your system, if it isn't already installed, by going into Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, and then Windows Components. You may need to keep handy the CD that came with your operating system.
Windows XP Home
Running IIS or PWS on Windows XP Home is a hard feat to accomplish. If you want to give it a try, there is some information and links at this site: http://coveryourasp.com/Snippet.asp?snip=48.
The preferred Microsoft web server for Windows ME is PWS, however Microsoft do not recommend that you use it. If you are an advanced user, you could try it and see how it goes - but remember that it'll be hard to find support if you run into any problems. If you want to try it, use the instructions given above for Windows 95/98/NT.
Using Server-Side Programming and Databases on Microsoft Servers
Both Microsoft servers explained here include Active Server Pages (ASP) and Microsoft Access databases. In most cases you can also set them up to use PHP and MySQL databases. To do this, you will need to download separate programs from www.php.net and www.mysql.com.
Third Party Servers
There are many third party (non-Microsoft) web servers out there that will run on Windows. Some are free, and some are costly. What you will choose depends on your needs. Here is a short list of some of my favourites:
LiteServe - http://www.cmfperception.com/liteserve.html
Apache - http://www.apache.org/
AnalogX Simple Server - http://www.analogx.com/contents/download/network/sswww.htm
I've Installed My Server - Now What Do I Do?
Great! Simply place your website into your web server's home directory (consult the help files or preferences panels in your server for information on where this is). Connect to the Internet, and your website is now live!
For your friends to access it, they'll need to know the IP address of your system. To find this out, follow the instructions below.
Click Start, Run, type winipcfg, and press Enter. A dialog box will pop up and display various networking information. If it is not already selected, select "PPP Adapter" from the dropdown list. The number next to where it says "IP Address" is the IP address you need to give out.
Click Start, Run, type cmd, and press Enter. Once the command prompt opens, type ipconfig and press Enter. Look for where it says "IP Address" under "PPP Adapter", and the number there is the IP address you need to give out.
When anyone in the world enters that address into their web browser, your site which is hosted on your computer will come up! (As long as you are connected to the Internet of course). Note that in most cases your IP address will change every time you reconnect to the Internet, so you'll need to remember to check it each time you want to give it out again.
But, as in most things in the computing world, there is a work-around! It's easy to get your own domain name that, when entered into a web-browser, will connect to your computer's website no matter what your IP address is, as long as you are connected to the Internet. For more information and to sign-up (it's free) visit http://www.dyndns.org. This is the website of one company that provides this service (Dynamic DNS), but there are many more. Again, a quick search on Google will provide many more results.
And that brings us to end of this article. Today you learnt how to install your very own web server! Congratulations. In coming weeks, you'll learn more about ASP, which is one of the server-side programming languages you can use on Microsoft Servers. Happy web page serving!
Now that you've gotten free know-how on this topic, try to grow your skills even faster with online video training. Then finally, put these skills to the test and make a name for yourself by offering these skills to others by becoming a freelancer. There are literally 2000+ new projects that are posted every single freakin' day, no lie!