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Setting up a Web Server - The Most Important Step to Hosting your Website

You might be trying to decide whether you want to host your website yourself rather than pay a hosting company. Maybe you just want to learn how it is done, or you want to save some money by doing it yourself. In this article I'll discuss the most important part of hosting your website from home, the web server.

The word "server" sounds scary and because of this many people think only a professional hosting company can host a website. This is not true. A server is nothing more than software that runs in the background listening to requests from "clients." The client in our case is an internet browser, like Internet Explorer.

How do you get a web server? Most Windows operating sytems come with a web server that just needs to be installed. There are also web servers than can be downloaded for free, like Apache. I'm not going to go over how to do this. In this article I'll discuss the concepts and what's needed to get your web server up and running and serving your site to the public after it's been installed. Every web server is different but the concepts are the same. By going over the general concepts that are true for any web server, you'll know what to look for regardless of the software you are using.

Like I mentioned before, a server is just software that runs in the background. A web server is a server that listens to requests from internet browsers for a specific page, finds that page in the computer it is running on and then sends it to the browser that requested it. Keeping this in mind, can you believe there are actually just two things you need to do to have your web server configured?

1) Tell your web server where to find your web site. Your website probably consists of multiple pages. You need to tell the web server the path of the folder where you keep your pages. For example, when someone types www.yourdomain.com/main.html, the server will look in the folder where all your pages live, and look for file main.html.

2) Tell your web server about your default page. This is the page that is displayed when someone types www.yourdomain.com in their browser without specifying a page. The web server already has some default page names like "index.html" so if you have a page with this name it will be displayed by default when no document is specified in the request. You may also add some more default file names to your web server. If you don't want to name your file "index.html" you can tell your web server that your default page's name is "mainpage.htm."

This is basically all there is to configuring your web server. Although web servers have a lot of other features and settings, these are the two basic steps that will allow your web server to start serving your website. Of course, there is more to hosting your website from home, like getting a domain name, dealing with your router, but these topics are beyond the scope of this article.

I hope I've convinced you of how easy it is to set up a web server, which happens to be the most important step to hosting your website from home.


About the Author: For more information about hosting your website from home and building a web server please visit How to Set up a Web Server




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