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Making an Independent Web Site? 484

Posted by Cliff
from the whatever-happened-to-the-free-internet dept.
KinsmanCa asks: "Lately I've been thinking of opening a website - but looking over what web hosts provide, I don't like the idea of having a bandwith limit of so many gigabtyes per month, or having to be mindful of what the provider considers community standards. How can I create a website that's as independent as possible? By which I mean, pay as few bills to as few people as possible, and have to answer to nobody but the law itself as far as my content goes? Assume that I'm willing to pay a lot as far as hardware or initial setup costs go. How much autonomy can a regular person get on the Internet?"
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Making an Independent Web Site?

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  • Get your own T1 (Score:3, Informative)

    by heyitsme (472683) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:33PM (#3422045) Homepage
    Well, the obvious and most straight-to-the point answer would be to get your own T1 or other high speed line, a router, and server(s).

    Only through this method will you get the control and administrative capabilities you seek.

    heyitsme
  • Simple. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:34PM (#3422050)
    Colocate a server somewhere.

    Hint: You won't avoid bandwidth fees one way or the other. Bandwidth costs money.
    You won't avoid them *especially* if you want to be left alone to do what you want to do.

    Buy a server, colocate it somewhere, and set up what you want. Do your own mail, dns, everything.

    Or... lease a cobalt raq somewhere, that might be a good start. Quick, easy, your own machine.
    • bandwidth fees (Score:2, Informative)

      by MattW (97290)
      That's simply not true. Many providers can provide you a fixed-rate setup, where you have a maximum transfer rate that you can sustain constantly and pay nothing more. While the "X gigs of transfer" is popular among many web hosters, most colocation providers offer based on sustained average usage. IE, there is a base price for 1 Mbps/sec, and if you only average that, you pay the base. Then there is a surcharge based on your average for the month being >1Mbps/sec.

      It could also be pointed out that colo isn't for the "average joe". Not everyone wants the hassle of running their own box.
      • Not everyone wants the hassle of running their own box.

        Some providers offer "Managed Colocation." Your box, their admin. Routine config changes, security patches, and typical setups are all part of the service. Normally, plans include an hour/month of sysadmin service on top of normal colocation services.

        I created a program like this at my last employer [5points.net] for example.

        I agree though: Colocation isn't for everyone. Aside from inexperience causing problems, it may be more costly than a beginning site really needs.
    • Co-locating a server won't solve anything. Read the question again...your co-lo provider will still pull the plug on you the instant anybody says boo.
  • Netmar (Score:3, Informative)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:37PM (#3422065) Journal
    Try Netmar [netmar.com]

    It's $10 a month for 100 megs, no bandwidth limits (within reason). No porn allowed, but other than that, they aren't trying to censor you.

    Other than that, I'd recommend co-loc or a T1. The only real way to get totally free from any restrictions is to get a real T1 from a first tier provider.

    No, I don't work for Netmar
    • Re:Netmar (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pclinger (114364)
      "It's $10 a month for 100 megs, no bandwidth limits (within reason)"

      So therefore there is a limit. I highly recommend staying away from any company that says "unlimited bandwidth" -- because its BS. You will get charged for the bandwidth, or kicked out of their service. Anyone who has delt with a lot of hosting companies will know this is true.
      • by lw54 (73409)
        I agree. Anytime someone says "unlimited" they're full of it. We've got the cheapest bandwidth anywhere but we still have a cap.

        Our ultra-high bandwidth hosting plans [tiernetworking.com].

        $20 - 20 GB transfer, 500 MB disk, 100 emails.
        $50 - 50 GB transfer, 2000 MB disk, 500 emails.

    • Re:Netmar (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:54PM (#3422145)
      Netmar expressly forbids anyone from using Netmar systems for the propogation, distribution, housing, processing, storing, or otherwise handling in any way lewd, obscene, or pornographic material, or any other material which we deem to be objectionable, including, but not limited to, pornography, satanic materials, any and all materials of an adult nature, defamatory materials, slanderous or libelous materials, and any copyrighted materials for which specific reprint permission has not been obtained directly from the copyright holder(s). The designation of any materials as such described above is left entirely to the discretion of the Netmar management.
  • your options (Score:3, Informative)

    by GutBomb (541585) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:38PM (#3422072) Homepage
    i would say colocation or dedicated servers. you get root access for both. I have a couple servers from rackshack [rackshack.net] they have pretty good prices and a bunch of diferent configurations. you still get a bandwidth limit (300+GB i think) your only other option is getting youself a leased line ad running it from your location, but then you will still probably run into bandwidth limits (AVOID BURSTABLE DEALS!!!!) The last option, colocation, is similar to the dedicated server route, but instead of using one of thier servers, you build your own, and have it located in a rack at thier datacenter. it's a little more expensive than dedicated servers are, but not much. you can usually rent rackspace by the U, and the prices aren't too bad.
  • by CJayC (74131) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:38PM (#3422073) Homepage
    It sounds like you're looking for a great new car, regardless of price, that has no or fixed fuel costs no matter how much you drive it. You're not going to find one. You can't have a web site without some kind of bandwidth limitation, be it physical or financial.

    Bandwidth is the primary cost of every web host on the Internet. The backbone providers allow a specific amount of bandwidth for a specific price, and resellers carve up that bandwidth for sale to you (or to other resellers) at smaller prices for smaller amounts of data transfer.

    As you might imagine, it's usually a good idea to avoid any provider who promises "Unlimited Bandwidth". They're lying. Anyone who says that really means, "Unlimited Bandwidth, Unless You Use More Than We Think You Should".
    • As you might imagine, it's usually a good idea to avoid any provider who promises "Unlimited Bandwidth"

      Unlimited bandwidth, but everyone else on the service trying to get the same unlimited bandwidth acts as a pretty effective throttle.
    • No provider of services is going to take on any customer they see as a potential liability. This is why almost any provider you see is going to have restrictions on use of their services, especially thanks to the DMCA.

      The few providers that have a completely "hands off" approach to their customers tend to have customers who traditionally deal in spam, pr0n, copyright violations, or some combination thereof. Those are sites you likely wouldn't want to be associated with, and those kind of providers also tend to get blackholed and/or sued on occasion.

      Co-location is also an option others have mentioned, but the same basic rules will likely apply (no spam/pr0n/warez, pay by the byte) with any solid provider. It's also not for the beginner, and definitely not for anyone who's not incredibly serious about their site.
    • by the_quark (101253) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:27PM (#3422262) Homepage
      Also, there is no getting around the legal problem. The DMCA is written such that anyone that provides bits to you is an ISP, and they can be provided notice of your copyright violations. Once they receive that notice, they must either remove the content (i.e., by getting you to do it via threats, or by cutting off your service), or they are held legally responsible. Since you probably pay them thousands of dollars a year at most, and willfull copyright violation is $25,000 per occurance, your ISP will not back you, and will pull the plug, because it's not worth the risk.

      Theoretically, I suppose, you could be a backbone provider and not have anyone upstream. But unless you're planning on buying Sprint or something, you will have to deal with the fact that there is someone upstream who can pull the plug on you solely because your content has been complained about by a copyright owner.

      Also, realistically, every provider has some terms of service. Some of them no one on /. would disagree with (preventing spamming, for example), but many of them there might be some controversy (prohibiting un-PC speech). Again, you're not going to be able to avoid these unless you become a backbone provider. Which is probably a bit over your budget ;).
      • Also, there is no getting around the legal problem

        Yeah there is. Not every country has laws as fucked as those of the US (remember, johanson's code was legal in Norway) -- if an american accesses my website, it's no more under the DMCA than if they were offended at a sign in my garden they could only see with a spy satellite.
      • Not entirely true... (Score:4, Informative)

        by sterno (16320) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:51PM (#3422532) Homepage
        This part of the DMCA is about the only part that's intelligently written (IMHO). It says that somebody who thinks you violated a copyright must send a letter to your service provider certifiying that they believe you have violated a copyright.

        The provider, to avoid taking on the liability for contributory copyright infringement, must remove your site unless you certify that you have not violated their copyright. Now that's the thing though, you have to be willing to take the chance in a court of law that you did not violate their copyright. If you aren't, then an ISP will, wisely, remove your offending content.

        Now, I say not ENTIRELY true, because I'm sure that a number of providers will be more than happy to shut down your site completely regardless of what you say because it's not worth the hassle to them. That is a risk you take when you walk near the legal grey areas (and boy haven't those grey areas increased in size lately). I mean running any site today that allows for some sort of public user posting runs the risk of them violating copyright on your site. Then you get to have the choice of eliminating their posts or taking a moral stand. Moral stands are expensive...
        • Quite specifically (I've been there and done that) what you must do is certify under penalty of perjury that either the supposed copyright owner is mistaken, and you do have the right to distribute the content, or that the owner is mistaken and you never did distribute the content. Once you do that, your ISP is indemnified and may (but doesn't have to) put your site back up. At that point, the copyright-holder can sue you, at which point I believe the ISP has to take you back down until the suit is resolved (although I'm not 100% sure on that as I've never taken a case that far, personally).

          But, yes, you're right, for many providers, once you get involved in the process at all, you're not worth the time and money.

          And I agree that it is one of the more sensical parts of the DMCA - it gives the ISP a positive defense and sets out pretty clearly the legal path everyone can use to avoid prosecution.
    • You could always host your own server on a phone-line connection. You leave it on and connected to some no-name dial-up service and use something like deerfield to broadcast your ip. Then go register a domain. Not the prettiest way of doing it, but revolutions were never pretty
  • I like phpwebhosting.com, they are $9.95 a month, "unlimited" bandwidth, 150mb, PHP, perl, shell access, pop3, subdomains, apache access_log access, etc, everything you'll need really. What I like about them is how they work with you, if you need more than 150mb, you just ask, and they give you more space, for free. The only down side is they only offer e-mail support, no phone support, they say this is why they are able to offer the services at a low cost, but so far I've never had a problem with the e-mail support.
  • by dattaway (3088) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:39PM (#3422079) Homepage Journal
    Join a Linux User's Group. Get to know the people there who run ISP's. Pay for pizza and beer activities. You may find the friends you make have an affinity for creating community website opportunities.

    Next thing you know, you have a box on a T3 line. Try to get the thing slashdotted. That's pretty much the goal in life as I've seen it.
    • This may be rated as +5 funny, but it's exactly true. The userfriendly.org fansite I run is colo'd at the same host that hosts userfriendly.org, due to becoming friends with the creator, hanging out, drinking guiness, and then asking politely "so, do you think you could host my box, if it doesn't get too popular?"

      And they did. Don't underestimate the power of "networking" :)
  • HavenCo? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jconley (28741) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:42PM (#3422090) Homepage
    Maybe our friends in Sealand can help you?


    HavenCo [havenco.com]


    J

    • How is that redundant? I havn't seen anyone else mention it.

      Sealand may be overkill though, and there is a pretty strict bandwidth limit.
  • A word of caution (Score:2, Informative)

    Before signing up with any ISP or host or whatever, make sure they're clean and not on any spam blacklists. Dejagoogle for the company name in net.admin.net-abuse.(email|sightings).
  • Co-lo (Score:2, Informative)

    by punker (320575)
    I work at a hosting company, and there are a couple ways to do this. Some hosting companies will offer a shared hosting environment for between $50-100 a month + bandwidth. Otherwise you can co-lo a server, which usually runs between $300-500 + bandwidth a month. In those situations, they will usually provide the routers, IPs, pipes to the telco's, etc and just expect you to provide your server. Your costs may very based on things like server size (1u, 2u, 4u), power connections (if you have hot-swap power supplies), etc.
    For bandwidth, industry rates seem to go $3-5 GB for bandwidth if you're working on a usage type basis (some sort of shared connection), as opposed to a dedicated bandwidth type basis. If you're looking at the dedicated bandwidth type (drop with some guaranteed MB/s) the costs move in much bigger blocks, but usually cost you less if you use that much.
  • What I do... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pclinger (114364) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @05:51PM (#3422130) Homepage Journal
    I know you want to have full control over your server, but that really isn't going to happen unless you buy your bandwidth straight from places like Qwest, Level3, etc and have your own high speed lines running to your house/work, the whole deal. It really isn't worth the amount of effort that it would take to setup something like that. You might as well start your own hosting company for all the work involved.

    Currently I have 16 servers to handle my Web sites (eg proboards.com and some others). I use RackShack.net for all my servers. They charge basically a hundred bucks a month (plus tax) per server, and you get 400GB of monthly transfer (25 cents a gig, pretty damn good!). I'm fairly happy with their service (hell I pay them $1700 a month, I better be happy).

    Content wise, they basically have fairly lax restrictions. No cracking sites, no illegal stuff, etc. They don't have rules against pr0n sites. What exactly are you looking to put up on the Web?

    If you do colocation, you will be paying upwards of $1 - $1.50 a gig on your bandwidth. I swear I've looked at a hundred companies for servers (I always want to save some money with the amount of servers I have), and I haven't found one that beats RackShack. The price, the support, everything is right. I highly recommend them.
    • Second RackShack.Net (Score:2, Informative)

      by rhedin (91503)

      I'd been hosting some servers for several years with Dialtone, but just shifted over to Rackshack [rackshack.net]. Got 2.5 times the server and more bandwidth for half the cost.

      This morning they were offering a 1Ghz box with 512mb ram 40gb disk & 400gb b/w for $100/month and $1 setup. It's hard to beat.

      So far the service has been fast and excellent.

      rob.

    • If you do colocation, you will be paying upwards of $1 - $1.50 a gig on your bandwidth. I swear I've looked at a hundred companies for servers

      The company I work for, ITmom.com [itmom.com], offers $0.50 per gigabyte for shared hosting, not colocation. i.e. you don't have to know how to run a server, just upload your content (of course, this isn't for everyone, but this is what our customers want).
  • I have an account with ReadyHosting.com for all my personal and lower traffic stuff... it's $99/year... they don't do mysql, but they do give you unlimited odbc, and for an extra $25/year you can get 1 mssql database... 500 meg of space php, asp, coldfusion 4.5 livestats unlimited transfers unlimited pop3 email unlimited email aliases web-based email they pay for your domain name... and for the yearly renewal of it you can't beat it for the price.
    • The guy asked for no bandwidth limits, no content limitations and acceptance of community standards, so I'm not sure this place qualifies at all (from ReadyHosting's website):

      " If at any time the Customer's website generates enough bandwidth usage to affect the performance of the other customer sites on the server, Ready Hosting, Inc. reserves the full right to terminate the Customer's domain name without refund.

      Other Activities, whether lawful or unlawful, that we determine to be harmful to our customers, operations or reputation, including any activities that restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the service or the Internet. Any violations of this agreement will result in refund ineligibility."

      This was in their ToS, which mentions they don't restrict anything....well, anything but spam, using it as an image repository, scripts, DNS transfer, data transfer, defamation, "pornographic" sites, adult content, viruses and crypto.

      I've seen quite a few hosts play this game. I was with one, who plastered "free speech" and "uncensored" all over the front page, only to say in the fine print they would monitor the email accounts and yank the site if they didn't like what was on it.
  • Freenet. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alphaseven (540122) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:01PM (#3422173)
    Want no bandwidth limit, no fees, no hassles on "community standards"? Just upload your page to Freenet [freenetproject.org]. And it's anonymous so you won't even have to answer to the law. Sure it's a painfully slow to access most pages, but what do you want for free?
    • FreeNet is Your Goal (Score:2, Informative)

      by showboat (205494)

      Right now FreeNet is slow mainly because there aren't that many people on it. Read some of the documentation at the site. More people = a better cache and better responsiveness. Now, given its current state, I'd say the relative (very high) anonymity of it makes it drollingly appealing. So START A NODE, people!

      A FreeNet with millions running nodes globally is our goal, according to my wishes and yours, as well as both our economic means.

  • Bandwidth isn't free (Score:3, Informative)

    by twenex (139462) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:02PM (#3422177)
    You need to pay for the bandwidth one way or another. There are three basic ways:
    1. Buy a circuit and pay for the bandwidth yourself (DSL, T1, etc).
    2. Rent part of a circuit and (possibly) computer, and pay someone else to host. Most services cap bandwidth or charge directly for bandwidth. You can either go hosted or colocation (their computer or yours).
    3. Go on a hosted service that is advertising supported. Everyone I'm aware of caps bandwidth.

    The decision should be based on how much you have to spend and how much bandwidth you really need.

    As you can see from the above options, there's no free ride - bandwidth costs *someone* and usually those costs are passed down to you.

    Of course, I shouldn't preach.... I share a T1 speed SDSL with folks in my building and only pay $20/month ;-)
  • Colocation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MalusCaelestis (172079) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:03PM (#3422185) Homepage

    Though mentioned several times before, I feel that no one mentioned the most important aspect of colocation: redundant connections. T1/T3 lines probably won't fail, but there's still the chance, and if they do, you're screwed for however long it takes the phone company to fix the problem (and if you've ever tried to get a Baby Bell to fix something, you'll know why this will be a problem).

    A redundant connection will keep your site up and running even if the primary connection fails. Ideally, the redundant connection should be able to handle 50% of peak capacity and should be leased from a different provider than the primary line (so that an entire company outage won't shut down both lines).

    Now, you CAN get redundant lines into your house, but it won't be cheap and you'll end up paying for a redundant connection that you may never use. Colocators already have redundant connections set up, which means you won't have to worry about any of this. You may have to pay a dollar amount per Gibibyte of throughput over a certain amount, but this is unavoidable when using anyone else as a host. Just be sure to agree on a deal that will provide you enough base bandwidth so that you won't wind up paying thousands of dollars in excess bandwidth fees.

    With the right colocator and the right agreement, you'll end up getting the right amount of allotted bandwidth and you won't have to bother yourself with all the things that make hosting your site from home troublesome.

  • if you work in any kind of hi-tech field, chances are there's a nice fat pipe available to you somewhere...

    build a little server, buy the network administrator eight or nine beers, stick your machine in the server room, and go to down. (the beer trick works especially well if you happen to BE the network administrator.)

    i haven't paid for server bandwidth in probably seven or eight years (i.e., "ever"); the downside is that you may have to move it around a lot, as you might change jobs, your company might fold, that sort of thing.

    DSL works nicely for low-impact serving, too.

  • Colo with Us (Score:3, Informative)

    by lw54 (73409) <lance AT woodson DOT com> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:17PM (#3422226)
    We colo for $87 per 1 Mbps [tiernetworking.com] (316 GB data transfer).

    From 1 Mb to 1000 Mb, if you find a lower price, we'll beat it by 5%. It's that simple.

  • by smack_attack (171144) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:20PM (#3422235) Homepage
    Adult hosts are used to getting calls about anything from trademark infringement to libel. They know the rules and when to call BS on a C&D letter.

    I work for one myself (obligatory NationalNet link [natnet.com]) but you can find your own if you need at many review sites [tophosts.com]. Good luck!
    • I might as well give a plug to my web hoster here, http://www.uptownwebhosting.com/. I use their virtual hosting service, which is the most economical.

      Unlike many sites that cater to porn, they aren't overpriced.

      I use them for 2 vanity sites with low usage, one of which is tongue-in-cheek pseudo-porn, the other of which is an art web site [camilleart.com] with content that could conceivably be called objectionable.

      They're pretty cheap.

      One thing I like and don't like is that they are not so professional. This means that they don't care about content. "We don't care as long as you don't get us into trouble," is roughly what they told me when I spoke to them. Unfortunately, this also means that they are sometimes hard to get a hold of (but at least they do have a phone number) and don't have 99.999% uptime (probably more like 99%).

      Anyway, they aren't too bad. I wouldn't use them for anything too important, but if this is just a vanity project, I think you'll find them pretty versatile and cheap.
  • by mikosullivan (320993) <miko AT idocs DOT com> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @06:37PM (#3422290)
    ... buy a backbone. Last I checked they only cost around $625 million [cwplc.com].
  • Depending on what options you have in your area...

    Set up your own servers, and get a broadband ISP with an account that has no restrictions. I pay $200 a month for a 1.54m/768k dsl account with 16 static ip addy's and NO restrictions. I can resell the bandwidth if I want to and its permitted, the TOS even says so. The law is my only restriction.

    Then you run your own servers. You put whatever you want on them, and you can use all the bandwidth you need, up to the physical limits your service allows. I'd imagine that any company will offer comparable services. Where people get caught and start whining is they believe the $39 a month rate they pay for the same bandwidth should offer unrestricted services for that price.

    Now, if you can find a host, you'll probably be better off in the long run, at least for the amount of money you'll be spending. More than likely, you'll get either a total bytes transfered limit, or a bandwidth cap rate. Any service that offers unlimited on both always has a disclaimer in there somewhere.

    -Restil
  • Several years ago I wanted to run a small web database app for parents of kids at my daughter's school. The only relevant server-side technologies I knew were ASP and MS Access. I was pretty much stuck with Win98 on my home computer because we had tons of kid games that wouldn't run under NT, and we couldn't afford a second computer anyway.

    So what I did was use Personal Web Server, a free mini-version of IIS that does about everything IIS does. To get to my machine from the web I hosted a domain on a cheap host (HostSave, $7.95/mo) and did redirects to my home IP address. Although I wasn't paying for a static IP, it tended to stay the same for months at a time. Whenever it changed I simply fixed the links. The small number of users (parents from my daughter's school) were mostly hitting my site one at a time, and my DSL line was fast enough to give them decent response. Bandwidth was not an issue, but I bet it isn't for most people. This solution worked just fine, was dirt cheap and was perfect for a non-Unix person.

    I was surprised Microsoft abandoned Personal Web Server. To run a server now under XP you have to upgrade to Professional. They have drawn in so many kids with Visual Basic, providing an easy and accessible way to play webmaster seems like a great idea. I guess it's part of casting the home Internet user as a consumer rather than a peer.
    • PWS used to be a small web server, then it jumped from 3 megs to 80 megs overnight. What happened is they abandoned the old code base and took IIS, stripped it down some, and marketed that as PWS. The old tiny version also could do FTP, but they didn't put that in the new huge version, since that would make it "too much like the real IIS".

      This all happened in early 1998 or so.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @08:23PM (#3422636)
    You need to buy your own high speed line to your house from a large provider. By highspeed I mean T1 or better and by large I mean like AT&T, Genuity or UUNet. If you buy a line like this you will be able to get it unmetered, meaning you can use 100% of it's capacity 100% of the time and noone will complain (metered version are also available). Also generally there are very few things that are prohibited, mostly only things that are illegal. Further, your provider isn't going to monitor you and will only shut down your line if someone with enough clout complains. Finally, you'll have an actualy, legal contract with them gaurenteeing uptime and such, and perhaps a clause that they have to contact you with any problems. The larger a line you buy, the more clout you tend to carry.

    The downside? Cost. For a full T1 you can probably expect to pay between $1000-$1500/month between local loop and bandwidth, and that's just 1.544mbps. You want some serious bandwidth like fractional DS-3 and you can get real expensive, real fast.

    The only real thing that having a line like this gets you over doing co-lo at a good facility is that you'll have direct control over the hardware and generally speaking the telcos are more wary of cutting off a big bandwidth line (due to contracts and the like) in the event of a problem, thay'll usually just pass things to yout NOC (in this case you) or people call that in the first place.
  • 5 easy steps. (Score:2, Informative)

    by perky (106880)
    1. Find a country where laws don't care about distribution of information, and which has a reasonable amount of connectivity. Perhaps some of the countries in eastyern europe have decent connections.

    2. Find a co-location facility there.

    3. Have a machine installed and sort out domain registration etc.

    4. Stick up whatever dodgy content it is that you are dealing with to have such requirements in the first place.

    5. If it's pr0n then wit for the money to roll in. Otherwise find a day job.

  • by cybermage (112274) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @08:56PM (#3422738) Homepage Journal
    Get your DNS and mail service from one provider and web hosting from two others. Many providers will squirm at not getting everything, but tough.

    If you keep your mail seperate from your website, you should avoid mail interruptions if a web hosting provider pulls your site.

    By keeping your DNS seperate, you can control which IP requests for your site get sent to. Make sure you DNS zone file records expire frequently so that a change in IP is propogated quickly. If your provider will let you manage the DNS, even better.

    Setup a scheme to keep your site backed up. Running the site in two locations, plus maintaining a backup would be ideal.

    Here's how it would work: If one provider pulls your site, you change your DNS to the backup provider and secure a new backup provider. Unless your being persecuted by someone with serious clue, you can shuttle your site around indefinitely with only brief interruptions.

    Of course, as someone else has suggested, consider off-shore hosting. You can have a .com anywhere. Even if the country is WIPO friendly, you'll still get more delay in anyone acting against your site.

    One last thing: Anyone who wants your site down bad enough, may be able to simply get the domain pulled if you use a domestic registrar. Consider going off-shore with that as well.

    So, my advice is this: Split up services; Maintain backups; Consider off-shore hosting; And consider off-shore registration. In general terms, don't keep your eggs all in one basket and hide the baskets.
  • I have four sites hosted on EZPublishing [ezpublishing.com], and I've been very happy with them. They're a Linux-based hosting provider. You get shell access, CGI, Perl, MySQL, Java, etc. There's no limit on traffic, and I've had sites there that overloaded other hosting providers. They have multiple T3 connections. They even support streaming audio/video (via RealPlayer).

    You can get a lot done on EZpublishing at the $14.95 per month account level.

    Support is strictly via E-mail, but it's quite good. They assume you know what you're doing, but if you report some obscure problem, it gets fixed.

  • I am member of a club [in-ulm.de] which is a fully fledged ISP including its own independent IP address space, high bandwidth, backup connections, enough room for co-located servers, and even commercial customers which help to finance our toys. We do not just offer dial-in via modems or ISDN but also plan to provide DSL (not an easy task in Germany). Interesting projects like voice over IP [in-ulm.de] are also supported. All this works thanks to volunteers. They payoff is that we have a great freedom and services that are not to be found everywhere like static IP addresses (if necessary, in connection with CIPE tunnels [sites.inka.de]), incredibly cheap co-location, and the option of sharing. What's more, we meet each other every week in our own cellar [bn-ulm.de] and enjoy some beer :-)
  • My indie server (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KalvinB (205500)
    I run my server out of house for $70 which includes a dedicated 256K DSL line which gives me 60GB a month transfer max. $30 goes to my phone company and $40 to my ISP. I was running my server on a 200Mhz Pentium with Win2K and Apache and pulled off 1 million page views in a single month. I use a router to allow the rest of the computers share the connection with the server running on one.


    www.dnsmadeeasy.com handles my domain name. I've since upgraded my PC but for just a hobby site, my original set up will work fine for you. I needed to upgrade simply for more disk space and because I'm not just running a web-site. I also do some indie game development and occassionally test my MMORPG servers on it.


    If it's just a hobby site there's no need to spend a large amount of money. It took a year to get a 1 million page view month. I currently do around 800-900 unique IPs a day on my 256K line. Until you get to at least that level, there's no need to even consider putting down a large amount of money for your site. I've considered upping my bandwidth but at this point it isn't needed.


    Ben

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:10PM (#3422988)
    Just look up the hosts for some of the most extremely unpopular and controversal sites out there, like www.godhatesfags.com [godhatesfags.com] or www.freespirits.org [freespirits.org] . You can bet your life people have been trying very hard to shut these sites down, but they're still up. So whatever ISP hosts them must not only believe firmly in free speech matters, but also have the legal horsepower to fight the prudes.
  • As some other people here have said, there's no getting around the fact that bandwidth costs money. If you're going to colocate a box, though, you do have options.

    What we usually do when a customer is using (or about to use) more bandwidth than they're contracted for, is to give them three options:
    • Update your contract for more bandwidth
    • Keep the contract where it is, and we bill you for the overage
    • We put a bandwidth cap on your connection to keep it at or below what you're paying for
    As you can see, there are options. Which one you choose depends on whether your site is making money, and how much.
  • Get on the phone. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m_evanchik (398143) <michel_evanchikATevanchik@net> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @11:06PM (#3423136) Homepage
    The cardinal rule of finding a web hoster is to make sure that you can CALL THEM ON THE PHONE.

    If you can only get in touch via email, you will find yourself up the creek when something goes wrong.

    Many of your cheaper hosters don't offer phone support, and it is indicative of an unprofessional operation. It means they either don't speak English, are a very small shop without adequate resources, or know that their service stinks and just don't want to be bothered by the large numbers of irate customers.

    You may pay a little extra to know you can speak to an actual human being, but even if you never need the phone call, its availability is the first good indicator that someone is on the up and up.

    Also, calling them is a great time to make sure your site won't be objectionable for them to host.
  • Start your own ISP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by usurper_ii (306966) <<gro.4tseuq> <ta> <yln0seye>> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @11:32PM (#3423221) Homepage
    It seems like the most hassle free way of doing it would be to start an ISP. Take on a small number of dial up accounts just to look legit and help out with the bills. Then put your web sites up under fake user names. If someone complains about content...you lock out a fake user, remove the material in question, and shoot off an e-mail to the person that complained that it has been taken care of. Then you create a new fake user and do it all over again. Warrants and subpoenas? Why yes officer, I'll do everything I can to help you find this bad person!

    usurper_ii

    Thank God I live in this quiet, little, piss-ant, redneck, po-dunk...white trash, kick ass retirement town

  • You just need to shop harder for your hosting. There are plenty of good deals out there. You can get "burstable" bandwidth deals, averaged bandwidth deals, whatever. It's still cheaper than a co-lo or a leased line (T1/T3). You don't pay for what you don't use, you pay a surcharge when you do, and you don't keep your users waiting.

    Frankly, I think you have delusions of grandeur. If you can really generate that kind of traffic, you can find a way to capitalize on it- directly or indirectly- that the cost shouldn't be a problem. We should all be so lucky.
  • My 2 cents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrIcee (550834) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @11:46PM (#3423266) Homepage
    Having been a web-host for over 10 years... here are my 2 cents on the best process:

    1. Buy your own servers... preferably SUN. First, you have TOTAL CONTROL... second... they are not so virus prone as microsoft etc..., third... more open source... don't have BSA breathing down your neck
    2. Do NOT go with companies like RACKSPACE. MAIN reasons are as follows... first, you would prefer to admin your own server. By relying on OTHERS to admin you, you rely on OTHERS to make you secure. Great until you get hacked... then it's *hope they fix me soon*. Second... control control control control control
    3. Pick your COLO carefully. If you can't afford being your own tier... you need to colo. OBVIOUSLY you have to pick your colo carefully. Prefer to stay away from east/west coast because of bandwidth clog. Personally, we've found the southern US (texas, etc) to be pretty good at not being clogged with bandwidth and having international channels open.
    4. Your comment about *do anything I want*... well gee, if your going to do *bad* things, like pr0n, or war3z, or hax0ring... then you should probably NOT be on US servers... in that case, go off continent... cause any main haul here will eventually ban your ass. But if your legit (as you SHOULD be)... than you have no problems hosting anywhere. Try to go with the highest tier you can.
    5. of course of course of course... OWN YOUR OWN DOMAIN. And if at ALL possible... own your own IP block (in old speak... Class C or better). By owning your own IP block, you can easily move from machine to machine and dictate your own configuration. Moveing is easy and painless.
    6. GOOD COLO... the bigger the colo, the less time they have for you if a problem occurs. However, terribly small ones are also prone to inefficiency. You want a good sized, but not too big, colo with GREAT redundancy. AND YOU WANT TOTAL CONTROL OF YOUR CONNECTIONS!!!
    7. Bottom line... you GET what you PAY for. You can't be a good host for no money. Good rack space and bandwidth (assuing your buying your own server) should cost you a MINIMUM of around $500 a month. Paying less than that, and your probably ending up with a shitty deal.
    8. Obviously, any COLO situation can get you shut down if your doing *bad* things. But... that's true period unless your 4th or 5th tier. The more tiers you are removed, the harder you are to track down... but that implies that your doing something you shouldn't be doing... so don't! - because you want to be the highest tier possible - for the best possible bandwidth
    Bye bye now!
  • Ugh. . . . (Score:4, Informative)

    by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:58AM (#3423580) Homepage Journal
    If you really, dead f*cking serious here folks, want to get an INDEPENDENT line;

    go find your self a gigapop [google.com] and pay the per foot fee to run lines to a router which you will pay VERY dearly for; buy rights to an old office building someplace in town, run yourself a line between the Gigapop and the office building, host your data at the office building (assloads cheaper, trust me on this, I do not even think that Gigapops LET you have server machines there, other then load balances and such), and then set up a peering arrangement with the other backbones.

    It will run you in the grands per month minimum (hell lucky if you break under a million) but hell, unless the law manages to get EVERY damn last backbone provider to cut your ass off (which pretty much never happens) and you have your server located in a country with 'suitable' legislation (though quite frankly with the price of satellites constantly dropping . . . . heh, any day now, right? Sure the latency sucks, but hey, the legal situation would be fun to play around with. :) ) , you would be home free from anybody f*cking with you.

    Please note that Gigapops technically refer to the new I2 POPs, but that Internet backbones tend to come together at them any ways. :)

    Basically what you want is a direct relationship with a Tier 1 provider, which is VERY hard to get and VERY expensive, especially since you would not have a backbone of your own to deal with, but I am sure that if you offer them enough money, and especially if you do it a bit 'underhandedly' with one of the smaller tier 1 providers outside of the US.
  • Be your own ISP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @06:59AM (#3424090) Homepage Journal
    I have a leased line into my home. It isn't high bandwidth, and it isn't cheap; but no-one controls what I publish (or what I mirror) except me.
  • by markwelch (553433) <markwelch@markwelch.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @05:56PM (#3426066) Homepage Journal
    As others have suggested, if you want to be free of restrictions, you would want to own your own servers (thus you can tweak them any way you want, without affecting other users), and either bring in a high-speed wire to your location, or "colocate" your equipment at a facility which provides colocation service.

    Late last year, I decided that I wanted the ability to execute .ASP scripts within .htm files. You can do that, but only by tweaking IIS so that every .htm file is interpreted as an ASP file. That would represent a huge change and would slow down a shared server.

    So I decided it was time to re-establish colocation service. In the past, I have had my own servers colocated at Above.net (now MFN), and later at Maxim.net (later merged into another firm).

    I bought a 1U Compaq server at the Webvan auction ($1,830, including tax).

    The benefits of colocation are that the colo firm takes responsibility for making sure you have power (usually with UPS battery and generator backup), and they usually sell you bandwidth (though some colo facilities require that you contract for bandwidth directly with the provider, and the colo facility runs the wire from your box to your bandwidth provider's equipment at the facility. Another benefit, is that you can generally add bandwidth, or add more servers, very quickly (you can always add more servers at your own location, space permitting, but adding bandwidth may be more troublesome if you rely on a T1 or DSL line with inherent limits of 1.5 or 1.1 mbps).

    When you sign a contract for colocation services, you pay for a specific level of bandwidth -- currently I am paying $200 per month to host a 1U server at Hurricane Electric [he.net] (he.net) with 95% usage not to exceed 128Kbps of bandwidth. I am actually plugged in to a 10mbps ethernet connection, and I can spike my bandwidth (I often see spikes to as much as 640K in my traffic reports), but I pay no surcharge unless my server is using more than 128Kbps more than 5% of the time. (Currently I run from 75K to 100Kbps at the 95% average.)

    Freedom is pretty broad, but of course each colocation facility has its own restrictions and each bandwidth provider also has its own restrictions -- spamming is always prohibited by all backbone providers (since the demise of AGIS), and or course nobody wants your server to be doing damaging things (like launching DNS attacks, distributing viruses, threatening the president's life, etc.). But most colo facilities will allow things like porn (though I'm sure there are companies that will draw the line short of what the First Amendment allows). Probably the most troublesome area would be "file sharing," if you operate a service that allows (or encourages) people to illegally download copyrighted works (free copies of Microsoft Office, click here!).

    No matter what promises you may get, don't expect any colocation facility to stick with you if there is a substantial threat of litigation. You may be in the right, but the colo facility or bandwidth provider doesn't want to get sucked into a Napster-style lawsuit, nor branded as supporters of child-pornographers.

    In addition, my experience is that you rarely get what you pay for, when buying colocation services. At Above.net, I paid a premium because they promised fast response time -- for example, someone could run out and cycle the power within 15 minutes. After a few months, however, Above.net was overwhelmed (too many promises, not enough staff to fulfill) and I often had to wait 40 minutes and talk to 3 different people, before finding someone who could just walk out and check if the power was on to my server! The final straw was when I began experiencing multiple outages each day, and Above.net simply denied that there were any outages. It took more than a month before they conceded that my mountain of proof was adequate, and then they simply agreed to let me terminate my contract early -- no credits or adjustments in my favor. I was mostly pleased with the service at Maxim.net (until they merged and announced a huge rate spike, which was justified by new service levels but wasn't worthwhile for me). I've been very pleased with the service at Hurricane Electric so far.

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