Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Hosting a Web Site at Home on BT Broadband

Using a Home Network to Host a Web Site
(BT Home Hub)

In the following few articles, which I will post next month, I will be writing about how it is possible to set up and host your own web site from home using your broadband connection and in my case the BT Home Hub.

Since the early days of designing and building web sites a lot of my work has been done on a local server.  I'm a Microsoft Windows user and most of their operating systems will give you access to their web server software, which is not too dissimilar to the commercial version that you'd get with specifically built server operating systems, such as windows 2008.  The web server software is called IIS (Internet Information Server) and when enabled in Windows will allow you to properly serve and view your web pages as if they were coming from a web server.

If you wanted to have access to IIS on your Windows computer to see how it works, then it can be added through the Control Panel's "Programs and Features" option.  This is where you would normally (as it was called in older operating systems, such as Windows XP) "Add and Remove Programs".  As well as the features you have possibly seen to uninstall software programs, there is also an option to "Turn Windows features on or off".

The Control Panel's "Programs and Features" option
Selecting the checkbox for the Internet Information Server will automatically select al the necessary sub features, and there's probably no reason to disable any of those.  The older operating systems used to require the original Windows OS installation CD (or DVD) at this stage, but that shouldn't be the case with more up to date systems such as Vista or 7.  I can't comment about Windows 8 at this point, as I haven't yet tried it.

Turn Windows features on or off
Anyway, moving on!  It's not my intention to write about the task of installing IIS and the basic configuration of IIS in this article, as I'm sure it's been done many times before.  However, it is an essential part of the hosting set-up, so it warranted a mention.  Once you're up and running you'll end up with the ability to serve web pages locally on on your local network using the normal protocol for this, which is http (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and the hyperlinks and source files will behave properly, as compared to viewing a web page you have authored directly from you file system (i.e. a folder on you C: drive for example).  On a local machine you will be generally able to browse a web site you are developing from a local domain (normally http://localhost/) or an ip address.  The localhost ip address is usually 127.0.0.1 (http://127.0.0.1/).

Ok that's enough about the local server config.  If you like to know more about that one, I'd suggest a Google search for something along the lines of "running IIS locally".  I haven't looked too far through the available articles, but this one titled "Setting up a web site on local machine using IIS" seems to explain the basics OK.

I am sure, there will be plenty of useful information already out there!

As far as what you will need to know about, to get a computer up an running on your local network, serving web pages and visible to the outside world using your BT Home Hub, this will be covered in the following topics:
It's all reasonably straight forward, and whilst I would certainly not recommend this type of home network hosting for anything commercial, or anything that needs reliable bandwidth and up-time, it can be an interesting way of learning about the configuration when your not able to get you hands on the servers normally.  For example, in my last job, I was involved in sales and for security reasons (we dealt with credit card payments etc.) I couldn't get access to our Windows Servers, so I used to keep things set up at home for hobby web sites that allowed me to keep my hand in on the practical side.  Also, for somebody leaning about web design and development, it's also a could way of having a go and experimenting with the set-ups without compromising anything that's too important, such as commercial web sites.

Please keep and eye out for my future posts, which will hopefully help you understand how the necessary components all fit together.







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