Why do I need a web server

webserver workshop

The following questions are explained here:

What is a web server?

The word "server" comes from English (to serve). In German, that means nothing more than "serve" or "serve".
The web server serves your computer data, i.e. the web server is first of all a computer that provides a wide variety of file types: texts, images, music, videos, etc. You only have to tell the server which data it should provide. In addition to pure text documents, a web server can also run programs such as access counters and database access, the results of which appear on our browser in the form of texts or images.
So: first you have to install a program, the web server, on your computer, and then you have to tell this program which files it should make available for access.

Why do you need a web server?

Well, it is interesting to put your own homepage on the Internet. This job is usually done through a provider. Providers (to provide) are connected to the global data network and pass this access on to private individuals, educational institutions, companies, etc. This is the most convenient option. However, it is easily possible to put the homepage "from home" in the worldwide network. You can also use your own web server when developing the homepage, which makes sense at the latest when developing dynamic pages with PHP and MySQL.

Requirements for operating a web server

The following things should be present:

  • An (older) separate computer (which can break something without getting angry).
    However, it should have sufficient memory (at least 128 MB) and be equipped with a 166 PI processor for the use of an operating system such as Windows NT. That's enough to get you started. Afterwards, when it starts with PHP and MySQL, there may be more of everything. Of course you can also use Linux as the operating system, but I don't want to go into that in more detail on these pages.
  • Basic knowledge of HTML to create Internet pages, you should also be a little familiar with the Internet protocol "TCP / IP" and also know what "ports" are.
  • Conveniently, a DSL connection with a flat rate (if the computer should always be in the network afterwards)
  • An account with "DynDNS.org" or another service so that your computer can be reached via the dynamic IP address assigned by your provider using a name (such as 'http://xyz.dyndns.org') is. I will come back to this later.

Presentation of some programs

There are of course a considerable number of programs that do the following more or less well: Be a good web server. That is why I can and will only present a few programs here, and the most popular ones. Since I want to go into more detail on the Apache web server later, I can only introduce the programs briefly. You have to look for further information from the manufacturer's website or from other help pages on the Internet.

AIDeX mini web server , German Free
The AIDeX web server is a handy HTTP server software for making files available on the Internet and for hosting your own Internet pages. The program can serve several visitors at the same time (multi-threading) and supports the offering of files of up to 2 gigabytes each. Small, handy, easy to use - great!

Xitami web server, English, free of charge
The Xitami web server is a good web server that is suitable for beginners as well as advanced users and professionals. The server offers FTP and HTTP access with CGI / PERL script options. Private web pages can be placed in a prepared folder and provided with HTACCESS protection. Of course, you can also protect other documents using HTACCESS. The current version is PHP3 compatible.

Apache web server for Windows, English, freeware
With a distribution of around 50% (according to Netcraft), the Apache web server is the most widespread web server worldwide, as it is extremely powerful and stable. Originally developed only for Unix, it now also runs very well under Windows.

Advantages of the Apache:

- free, open source
- extremely powerful and stable
- is constantly being developed
- for different operating systems
- wide configuration options
- modular construction

Disadvantages of Apache:

- no graphical user interface
- requires training time

Security aspects

Before you can even remotely think about putting your own computer on the Internet, you should first think about security a few things. It is nice to have your own server, but if other services and programs are running on this box, the whole thing can quickly become unsafe, and the stability of the system may no longer be guaranteed. You should know the following things:

  • A web server is usually online 24 hours a day. This also gives hackers 24 hours a day to do anything stupid!
  • The web server should not contain anything apart from the web pages that you want to publish.
  • Even if you haven't given out the address yet, hackers or their programs will try to break in.
  • NEVER use your private workstation for such purposes! Otherwise personal data could fall into the wrong hands.
  • Always be up to date! Check regularly for newer software versions and pay attention to which errors have been fixed with the new version. Nothing is worse than having completely outdated server software running on a server that contains various known bugs! For hackers this is a "snack in between".
  • If Windows is already running on this box, use at least a reasonably secure operating system! Things like Win9x and Win Me may be great to play with, but they have no place as a foundation for a web server (unless you're just using it for testing purposes at home). So we're talking about Windows NT / 2000 with the latest service pack and deactivated tinkering stuff like IIS (Internet Information Server). Throw all superfluous ballast overboard, there are enough pages on the Internet that describe how to purify and speed up Windows. Anyone who is concerned about which background image and which system sound is best on their server has misunderstood the purpose of such an installation.

If you follow this advice, there is no reason why you shouldn't use a Windows machine as a server foundation.