How to Build a Server
Building a server at home is a simple process. Many people do not realize that the old computer sitting in the closet is halfway to becoming your new server. This guide will walk you through the steps of installing your OS and server software.
Installing Windows Server Core
Find an old computer that you have around the house. Minor upgrades may be necessary. An alternative is to use your active computer as a part-time server. There are sites that suggest minimum specs for a server, but depending on your immediate purpose and budget, any computer can be turned into a server and upgraded as necessary. The key is proper cooling (fans) and keeping the inside clean (blowing out the dust). Web designers and programmers who wish to develop a local server may use their active computers and skip to the server software steps.
Choose a server operating system to install: Windows, Linux or FreeBSD. The last two are open source and cost nothing. However, installation will be unfamiliar for those with Windows experience. Using Windows XP is not advised due to the extra resources and processes that are required to run these operating systems.
Insert the Windows Server software disc and restart the computer to begin installation. Windows Server OS setup is identical to installation of Windows XP, which requires minimal input from the user. Make sure that you set the regional options correctly. Date, time and language selection are necessary to the proper operation of your server.
Installing Server Software
Install your Server Software after OS install is complete. If you've chosen Windows Home Server, then this process is already complete and you may log in to access the control panel. If you've chosen to go with Linux or BSD, then choosing server software is necessary. AppServ is known to be reliable and easy to use. Linux users may like Ubuntu software.
Download and install Appserv or Ubuntu. For server machines built without a disk drive, the use of flash USB drives for installation is an alternative option.
Configure your server by filling in proper information. Your server will be localhost or 127.0.0.1.
Fill in your Admin email. This can be changed later, so it is preferable to fill in an existing email such as 'email@example.com'.
Leave the default HTTP port at 80. For most of your purposes, defaults will not need to be changed. The server name (localhost) and the server port (80) are primary defaults. If you are behind a firewall or router, then you will need to adjust the settings to allow for access.
Choose a password for your MySQL database. The default username is 'root' and cannot be changed at this time. This can be changed later when logging in to the database for the first time and should be for security reasons.
Test your server. Open a browser window and type in 'http://localhost/'. The default welcome site should appear. If you have any problems, review the steps to ensure that you have correctly configured the server.
Tips & Warnings
- When your server is complete and running, if you do not have a website ready to install, then open a Notepad file. Save the blank file as index.html. Put this file in the WWW folder and rename index.php to something else.
- If you have bought a domain name and want your server to show up as www.yourname.com, make sure you point the domain name to your IP address. This can be done where you purchased the domain. If you have a router/firewall you will need to change the settings of the firewall to route user access to the appropriate network IP.
- When users outside the network access a server, security is always an issue. Changing the name of your administrator account is preferable. Since all computers come with 'Administrator' as the default name, hackers commonly look for it. Go to your Control Panel, Administrative Tools and Local Policy. Then choose to rename the administrator account.