A Quick Guide to Web Hosting with Windows
Web hosting can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never set up a website before. However, if you know the basics, you can get a server on your PC up and running in no time. In the following article, we’ll go over a few of the basic questions you need answers to in order to turn your Windows PC into a web hosting server.
Provider or No Provider?
First off, you should ask yourself if you’re really committed to the prospect of creating your own server. The advantages of doing it yourself are that you have complete control over the server and can learn a lot about. The disadvantages are that you’re on your own if anything does go wrong and it can take a lot of trial and error to fix things.
Of course, if you’re relatively new to hosting or want a professional provider to do the work for you, there are all sorts of packages available that can be tailored to suit your needs. If you do opt for a provider, it pays to shop around and ensure that your package comes with both flexibility and security. Most providers will have complete support for PHP and MySQL so you can save yourself a lot of bother with databases and configuration.
Additionally, almost all providers have super quick 1-click installers to help you get started with popular content management systems like WordPress and Medium. Ultimately, we would recommend that if you’re not tech savvy or want to host a site for commercial purposes, you should go with a hosting provider.
How to Get Started with WAMP
If you do opt to create your own server, you’re going to need WAMP. The acronym stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL and PHP and it’s simply the software you need to create a Windows web development environment. The programme enables you to download everything you might need for hosting dynamic web content in one go. This kind of software allows you to create your own web applications with Apache, PHP, and SQL databases. By hosting your own website, you avoid the monthly fees that come with a provider. Of course, unless you’re an internet whizz kid, your website is liable to be limited to very basic features and low traffic – a single PC obviously can’t compete with seriously stacked servers when it comes to hosting.
There are a number of WAMP programs available, but WampServer is probably the most popular. The installation process is straightforward and the program offers all the functionality you could need. You’ll need to adjust the settings (see below) on your Firewall to allow the program to offer all of its features. Once you’ve completed the installation process, you’ll have your own web development environment on your PC, which – with a little tweaking – will be soon ready for traffic. By simply clicking “Put Online” once you’re ready to roll, you can make your website discoverable to external traffic, outside of your computer.
By default, WampServer’s configuration files are set to deny any incoming connections other than the local host, so you will have to change your Apache code. Otherwise, visitors to your site will simply receive a 403 error every time they try to reach your site. You’ll need to change “Order Deny, Allow / Deny from All” to “ Order Allow, Deny / Allow from all”.
In terms of security, there will be always be issues, no matter your server package or your own operating system. What you need to keep an eye on is how actively your provider keeps their security measures up to date, and also what you yourself can do to keep your site secure. For instance, it’s considerably easier for Windows users to implement security measures on the cheap than it is for Mac users, given the number of free security applications available for Windows.