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Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Hosting your web app yourself (rather than using a hosting compa

Hello folks,

I am thinking about building a web application (probably asp.net and some database).

- Do you have any comments/experience with hosting your web app yourself (rather than using a hosting company, colocation, or other services)?

My main reasons:
1 - It is much cheaper to host it myself
2 – It is more flexible, I have more control

The quality of the Internet connection is my main concern. But nowadays internet services are quite reliable and fast. Do you think a hosting company gives me a much better/faster/more reliable internet connection? Is there any other important issue?

PS.
I have no experience with web applications. I only have a very simple (html only) website with a web hosting company.
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
"I have no experience with web applications. I only have a very simple (html only) website with a web hosting company."

I'd say your good to go.
revenueAssurance
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
If you expect any kind of traffic, you will need a T1 connection, which will NOT be cheaper than shared hosting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Let professionals take care of it. Not even a shared hosting is enough if you want to provide good service to customers. I recommend that you go dedicated from the day one and grow from there.
Ilija Studen Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
When you say "hosting your web app yourself", do you mean the server is physically resident at your location?

There is just absolutely, positively NOTHING about that situation that recommends itself to me.  Particularly for someone who does not consider themselves a professional at hosting or web app development.  Your hosting company has forgotten more about this subject than you or I will ever know -- let them deal with it.

In terms of costs, a decent VPS can be had for $20 a month.  If you're buying computer hardware and sysadmin time for cheaper than that, please tell me your secret.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Also remember that for most ADSL/Cable Internet connections the upload and download speeds are very different.

For example, mine is 5000kbps download but only 500kbps upload - 1/10th of the speed.

This makes sense if you are browsing the internet as you download much more than you upload.

It doesn't work if you are running a web server where you will 'upload' much more than you download.

Plus its a totally, totally bad idea for all the reasons other people have mentioned.
Ryan Wheeler Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Here's some things for you to consider:

* You kick the plug out of the socket
* You forget to secure the box correctly
* Your ISP experiences some down time
* There's a blackout and your computer loses power
* Some roadwork nearby cuts or interrupts your internet connection
* Your computer dies and you don't realise until 2 days later
* You forget to set things up properly and Windows Update reboots your computer for you
* You reboot and a critical service doesn't start up
* You send a bunch of emails and your ISP has a whinge
* You try to send email and it all ends up in spam boxes because your email server isn't set up properly

the list goes on and on...
Nathan Ridley Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
++Patrick
If you need to ask this here, you are probably not ready to do it alone.

++Ryan
Most folk have ADSL in their homes, and up speeds are lower than down speeds.

++Nathan
Given the planning, equipment and maintenance require to have a remotely reliable setup, it is cheaper, and easier to just go to the chaps who do this for a living.
Tapiwa Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I am NOT a WEB developer but I have other software experience and I know what I am talking about. And I have other reasons like data security as well.

I have seen a lot of people have problems with their hosted web sites. And I know great web apps started from a home.
What is wrong with starting from a DSL and growing to T1, etc?

I agree with some of your points but some I do not understand. Could you be specific about the issues that hosting companies take care of which is so difficult?

The hosting company gives me a box and the internet connection. Some of their other services (analytics?) might be important to you but not for me. If backup is critical for my app I prefer to do it myself.

Just because someone else is taking care of my site doesn’t mean everything is fine/better/easier.
Again I appreciate specific issues that are difficult to deal with? (like that T1 price)
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Patrick: I agree with some of the points.
I have seen offers like $6 a month, unlimited bandwidth, etc, but...

Here: http://crystaltech.com/semidedi20.aspx
They give me a vps for  $87, but disk space 6GB, sql server only 2GB.
If I was thinking about a simple web site, I would definitely use a hosting company like I have done so far but if I need something more flexible with growth potential, it is not 110% clear to me like it is for the others. I might be wrong though.
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Nathan: Again I agree with some of the points.

But just because my box is hosted somewhere else does not mean that windows update will not reboot my computer or critical services work better... Again if it was a small web site yes, not worth it. Get a shared hosting plan and they take care of everything. but not for a dedicated box.

Yes some hosting companies survive a blackout but not everyone. And how often does that happen anyway? I accept that if there is a blackout my website will be down. It is not such a black and white thing for me. I am thinking what I give and what I get.

To me still the reliablility and speed of the internet connection is the major issue.
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Steve, it is a lot of little things that add up.

Your home rig will need not only backups, but UPS as well.

You will need to keep spares for your machine. Keeping 5 spare hot swappable disks/RAM modules/power supplies/etc in a 100 server farm is better economics than keeping 1 spare in a 1 server environment. When you buy hosting/dedicated, the hardware is not your problem. When you self host, it is yours.

Commercial vs Residential reliability. When your DSL line goes down, many phonecalls to India later, the engineer will get round to you when he can. When a major hosting facility goes off the grid, engineers get woken up pronto. Plus, many of these will have several pipes from different providers giving more reliability.

Sometimes you need to hit the power button to reboot your machine. Major hosts will have someone on site, 24x7 who can hit the switch. You'll be on the phone trying to talk your wife through the process, because you are 1,000 miles away on business.

Scalability. A lot of dedicated providers will allow you  to quickly add hardware, or move up to bigger plans, within hours. You'll still be queing at PC World while your site gets slashdotted.

I know a lot of hosts get trashed on the intarwebs. My experience though, has been, especially with self managed dedicated servers, that the service is generally good.
Tapiwa Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Oh yeah, you might want to read the T&C on your home broadband connection.

A lot of them have a No Commercial Use clause in there somewhere.

Plus, depending on who you're with (less of a problem these days), forget about a static IP address.
Tapiwa Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
@Steve:
Sorry dude, but you just come across as naive at best, more likely crazy.

You might as well say, "Well, I did a first aid course once, and those doctors and hospitals are really expensive. I'll take my own appendix out. After all, I have some knives in the kitchen. How hard can it be?".
Odysseus Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
tapiwa.org is down btw :|

Site Temporarily Unavailable
We apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact the webmaster/ tech support immediately to have them rectify this.

error id: "bad_httpd_conf"
anon
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
>>
To me still the reliablility and speed of the internet connection is the major issue.
>>

I think your perspective on what is likely to cause your customers inconvenience, and my perspective on what is likely to cause your customers inconvenience, are quite different. 

Here's my proposal for you: run your favorite web server from home for a week.  Whatever you want.  Put a 1 page static HTML file on it which says "Hey, this is really easy."  Point a domain at it.  If you don't already have a domain, godaddy.com will sell you a .info for a buck.

Then, sign up for an account with http://mon.itor.us (free).  Schedule it to run checks on your domain and on http://www.bingocardcreator.com , which is run off of a $20 a month VPS.

Next Sunday, mon.itor.us is going to send you a color-coded report that will list the results of 800 pings of your site, my site, and google.com (which they use to calibrate so you can tell that a problem discovered is not on *their* end).  Typically, Google will not successfully respond to 0 to 1 pings.  My site will miss 1 or 2 pings. 

Your site will miss...  well, I could tell you, but you won't believe me until you run this experiment.

They'll also put response time graphs.  Those will be pretty instructive, too.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
>>tapiwa.org is down btw :|


I know, I let it die. It only had a Lorem Ipsum placeholder anyway.

Just had not taken it off my sig, as I have not posted here in a while.
Tapiwa Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I've done it. It's fine provided you're not going to get any serious traffic and your uptime requirements are not high. If ~98% uptime is okay and you're not going to get more than a few thousand hits a day then it should be okay.

It's probably a good idea if your web app requires significant processing power or RAM and not much bandwidth.

If it's just a really, really simple web app then it's probably not worth it. You can get hosting for $30 a year.
Colm
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Also, residential internet connections vary in reliability. Some are fairly reliable. Others not so much. If you can you should shop around for the good ones.
Colm
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
For some period I had my demo of online application running from a living room at home. I used dyndns.org to host newsinjector.dyndns.org.

I did it only because I was going to change hosting provider in few months and this was a temporary solution.

Here is a list of cons:
- My "server" was loud. Especially during the night.
- My children (3 and 5 yrs old) didn't care about availability as much as I did.
- Access to the demo app was slow from the outside world.

I've also calculated that it costs me more than 7 EUR/month in electricity alone to have my old AMD 900MHz running 24x7.

Now I have VPS for a 8.99 EUR/month.
Vilmantas Baranauskas Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I would never host a site from home.  It is so easy to host with a proper hosting company that guarantees uptime and bandwidth.

Your main problem is bandwidth.  Unless you can get SDSL or super cable like FIOS or something like that, your upload bandwidth will be tiny.  Granted, if you're only getting 500 hits a day that might not be a issue, but if you expect decent traffic then accessing your site will be slow.  And then, what if you're downloading that latest Harry Potter flick?  Ahem, I mean, that ISO file from MSDN.  That will hammer your upload connection and slow access to your site again.  And what if you have a powercut, hard disk failure at 3am, etc etc etc?  The list goes on.

It's a total no-brainer to just pay someone else to do it.  The hosting company should have redundant disks, redundant power, great bandwidth, uptime guarantee, etc etc etc.

If you want full control, rent a VPS for $50/mo.

Like hosting your own email, I think it's just a waste of your time to host your own sites.  Unless your own time is worth $2/hour?
Carp
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
@patrick - "In terms of costs, a decent VPS can be had for $20 a month"

A Windows VPS for $20/mo?  Do tell!
Carp
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
>And what if you have a powercut, hard disk failure at 3am,
>etc etc etc?  The list goes on.

Data centers are not immune from power cuts or hard disk failures. Even the high end ones you pay top dollar for have these problems (and at $50 a month you can bet your hosting center wouldn't be THAT bothered about fixing your harddisk at 3am).

Without knowing this guy's bandwidth requirements or uptime requirements you can't know if all of this would necessarily be a big enough problem to shell out money.
Colm
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
"Data centers are not immune from power cuts or hard disk failures."

True, but there's always someone around to fix a problem should it occur. As another poster said, if he's away and there's nobody around to replace the faulty RAM (let alone diagnose that that is actually the problem), things could be get hairy.

There's also an integrity issue too. How many customers would be happy if they found out the service they're paying for is hosted on a little box in someone's house? And if he discloses that fact up front, how many potential customers will decided against signing up?
Nathan Ridley Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
>>but disk space 6GB, sql server only 2GB.

If he is complaining about that much space, he must have a helluva lot of content, hence lots of bandwidth required.
Tapiwa Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
"Data centers are not immune from power cuts or hard disk failures."

I agreed in my post: "The hosting company should have redundant disks, redundant power..."

Obviously hardware problems happen, that's why I pay someone else to get out of bed and fix them.
Carp
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
You shouldn't do this, for the same reason you don't solder your own motherboard or design your own graphics card.

Providing stable, secure and reliable hosting requires a huge amount of infrastructure. You can only make this affordable to an individual by creating economies of scale.

This is the reason that even small hosting companies tend to use colo facilities, instead of stacking servers in their basement.

If the basement route seems cheaper, it's only because your leaving out a large number of ancillary expenses.

In fact, I would say it's impossible to provide yourself with the same level of service as a hosting company can provide you, for the same price.

I pay $200/month per server to softlayer, but I could never duplicate the infrastructure for that much.
Starr Horne (ChatSpring Live Chat) Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
"Oh yeah, you might want to read the T&C on your home broadband connection."

Agreed. Your home broadband connection probably has stipulations saying that you can't host web sites on it. You would have to upgrade to a "business class" service which would cost at least $100 a month for very limited bandwidth. Once you go there you had might as well just have someone else host it.
uggh
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
There are a lot of hosting providers who aren't a lot better than hosting from your basement: their power goes down, they don't have controls on staff doing stupid things, the lose connectivity, they don't provide the backups you think they are providing, the techs on the phone don't necessarily know the technology better than you, their idea of scheduled downtime doesn't coincide with your needs, etc.

But that doesn't make hosting a bad decision.

Like any outsourcing, expectations and requirements are everything, and selecting a vendor who can meet your needs is still important.  You always get a lower level of service when outsourcing than doing it yourself, but you are talking about a major difference in cost:

If you do it in your basement, you won't have redundant high-bandwidth connections which can be quickly scaled up to handle load, you won't have redundant dual-PSU machines on separate inverters from centrally managd power with generator backup, you won't have a Cisco tech, a SAN tech, a VM tech, a Linux tech, and Windows tech and a SQL DBA all on staff to troubleshoot your issues.

And, although it won't stop customers from leaving (because the buck still stops with you), you can blame outages on your hosting provider when it is their fault.
Cade Roux Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Of course, the reliability isn't going to be there at home... but I personally enjoy setting up/running my own little basement "datacenter" off of my standard residential cable modem for side projects. The whole thing runs on four old desktops and laptops, and sits on an Ikea kitchen rack with a couple of small UPS units (just enough juice to power down safely in the event the power goes out... not enough to run through it). It was fun to setup, offered me great flexibility, and was cheap because I already had the hardware.

Granted, I'm not dependent on my sites for income, although someday I may be.

I got around the "no static IP for a residential class cable modem" issue by purchasing the Custom DNS service from DynDNS.com. It was $27 for a year, and lets me use my dynamic IP with my domain, and for all intents and purposes to my moderate needs, makes it look static. So far, my ISP has not complained after three years of open port 80 usage, but I believe I'm definitely an outlier in this regard.

Rest assured though... everything about my setup from a software perspective is configured from a single build file that is tested by my continuous integration server as part of the functional tests... if I had to upgrade to a more reliable configuration (VPS, dedicated, etc. in a real datacenter), I could be up and running with not too much effort. For me, it's the difference of whether I plan to do something as an amateur or a professional.
Cory von Wallenstein Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Patrick,

>>
Then, sign up for an account with http://mon.itor.us (free).  Schedule it to run checks on your domain and on http://www.bingocardcreator.com , which is run off of a $20 a month VPS.
>>

Thanks for the tip about mon.itor.us...

Would you mind telling us where you have a decent VPS hosting for this cheap? we pay almost $80 for something not very optimal.

Regards,
Shloma
Shloma Baum Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
http://www.slicehost.com

(Not a Windows VPS, incidentally, in answer to the above question.  Sorry, I don't know the first thing about running Windows servers.)
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Actually VPSLand has a Windows server VPS for 19 a month. 
http://vpsland.com/winplans.html

I have not used them, but I have been looking at moving to a VPS as well.  This was the cheapest that I found for the Windows side.
SteveM Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Can you do redudant backups in your own house, let alone in distributed data centers across the country?

If you ISP goes down can you instantly switch to another form of backup internet connection so that your sites stay up (like an AT&T wireless network or something)?

Is the time keeping all this up worth the money you may save using a webhost (although I don't think you would save much money).

I say don't do it.
Joel Marcey Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I appreciate the responses and definitely agree with a lot of them.

- I am not building a web app for bank of america or a business critical app.
- I am not thinking about a small web site to sell my gadget (I have such a website on a shared host)
- I have other reasons that makes self hosting very attractive but those are irrelevant to this discussion.

For some applications 99.99% uptime, etc, etc are important, totally agree.
But I am thinking about more like experimenting with a couple of web apps. If my idea sucks the rest does not matter anyway. If it is successful I can upgrade to better plans. (Yes I know still 99.99% uptime is better than 95%, but to me it is about cost/benefit. It gives me more room to experiment. And I am not looking for a perfect solution.)

Do you think for starting/experimenting with some application that is NOT so business critical (just as an EXAMPLE something like a social networking site), it is practical to do the hosting by myself (start with a good business dsl and later maybe T1, etc)?
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I do not read bogs, news etc that much and do not have experience as much as most of you.
Do all these successful websites start with 99.99% uptime and hot backups across the country from day 1 or year 1? I am just looking for some real data. No garage hosting?
Steve
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Other than violating your ISP's terms of service, I see no other reason why you couldn't just host yourself. You clearly don't need 99.9% uptime. And there are MANY sites that start this way. Google comes to mind as does CodingHorror.com.

If it were me I would implement my own "VPS" system by putting my web app on a virtual machine running on a reasonably hefty box. This helps protect the actual machine from security breaches and makes it much easier to switch to a standard VPS solution down the road.
uggh
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
Steve, if it is public facing, and you are running it off your home computer, you are doing it wrong.

Seriously, that experiment I showed you earlier?  Try it.  Its not the difference between 99.99% and 98%.  (98% uptime means your site is down for about a week every year -- "whoops" -- and that neither Google nor users will have a high level of trust for it, unless your name is Twitter.) 

Its entirely possible that back in 1997 you could have pulled this off.  Those days are long since passed, and your alternatives are better in every conceivable way.  You're asking for the voice of the experienced professionals here.  Listen to what we are telling you: this is a bad idea, full stop.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
 
 
I think the question is how much are you really trying to save?

Let's say a beginner VPS account going for $50/month. After power it should come close to $40/month.

How much is that worth to you? If you're trying to start a business and you don't even have $40/month to spare you probably have bigger issues than hosting...

To be quite frank and honest, running a business costs money.  You have to be willing to spend some money to succeed. I would look at saving elsewhere.

If nothing else, you're time to perform the updates is probably eaten up in the $40/month. Focus on your core competencies and value added benefits, outsource as much of the rest as possible.
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Thursday, May 29, 2008
 
 

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