This blog post is inspired by the following question over at Quora – https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-host-a-website-on-my-computer-if-I-have-dynamic-IP
I’ve come across this question across multiple forums, including Reddit and it’s quite often asked. Technically speaking, yes it is definitely possible to host a website from your computer. A server is nothing more than a computer connected to the internet and so essentially your computer connected to the internet is a server as well. However, should you do it? I’d say no, it’s an expensive and unreliable solution.
Here are 4 reasons why you should not be doing it & at the same time how you can do it:
1. Your ISP probably prohibits it
Most residential ISPs do not allow running a server on their network and may terminate your connection if they find you abusing their policies. Here are a few snippets from the Terms of Service document for a few ISPs.
You also may not exceed the bandwidth usage limitations that Verizon may establish from time to time for the Service, or use the Service to host any type of server. Violation of this Section may result in bandwidth restrictions on your Service or suspension or termination of your Service.
Use or run dedicated, stand-alone equipment or servers from the Premises that provide network
content or any other services to anyone outside of your Premise’s local area network (“Premises
LAN”), also commonly referred to as public services or servers.
Examples of prohibited equipment and servers include but are not limited to, email, web hosting, file sharing, and proxy services and servers.
Solution: Get business / commercial connections. Services such as Comcast Business & Verizon Enterprise allow you to run servers on their network. You’d be looking at around $150 – $200 a month for these services.
Cost: $150 /mo
2. Reliable Internet Connectivity
Let’s accept it, there have been times we’ve been left without internet connectivity and when this happens your website goes down / becomes unavailable to the internet. Residential connections are simply not reliable enough to offer you 99% uptime, further, most of these connections are over the ground which means they are subjected to both natural and human intervention.
Solution: In order to maintain a certain level of redundancy you need at least two diverse internet provider and you can use a load-balancing router such as the TP-Link Load Balancing Router to set up a fault-tolerant policy, wherein if one of the ISPs go down, traffic is automatically routed via the second.
Cost: $300 /mo (ISP x 2) + $50 One-Time
3. Electricity Expenses and Reliability
This problem is similar to that above, our residential power is not reliable enough for 100% availability in fact data centers with multiple power feeds coming from diverse power grids experience power failures as well, albeit rarely.
Solution: Battery backups + Generators. You will also need a mechanism to switch to the UPS and subsequently to generator power once the generator feeds come online.
Cost: Multiple thousand dollars plus fuel for the generators.
4. Dynamic IP
Residential networks have what is known as a Dynamic IP which implies that the IP address associated or assigned to your computer (in this case your server) changes, every time you disconnect and reconnect to the network. This makes it impossible for your DNS to point to an IP address for the website to load.
Solution: You can ask your ISP to give you a Static IP which will, of course, be charged and is usually only available on Business / Enterprise plans. An alternative way is to use a service such as No-IP, it’s a DNS provider that runs a client on your server/home computer and updates the IP address in the DNS zone for your website based on the IP address assigned to your computer.
So, Should You Do It?
If you do, you are looking at a few thousand dollars in a one-time investment and multiple hundreds each month and worse ever after all of this, the reliability and stability of such a service would still be questionable. Compare this with our Starter Hosting package which costs just $2.95 a month and guarantees 99.9% uptime.