AAM: Personal Mac into Web Host

by Aaron Wright Jul 16, 2007

You’ve all been there at some point I’m sure: you want a website setup that could (or won’t) turn into something magical, but you don’t want to take the gamble of forking out your hard earned cash for some web space each month—and a lot come with contracts lasting upwards of a year!

So what do you do? Well, the cheapest but not always easiest solution is to turn your home computer into a server where you host your own website and allow others to check on in—the only costs for this would be bandwidth restrictions with your ISP and a large electricity bill. But if you’re okay with this then why not delve in and set up your own personal web host?

Alleyway61 has just this idea but wants to know a way of going about it in the quickest time possible. AAM Chief, Hadley Stern, has stepped in and given his advice on the situation, including possible IP problems with your ISP and how OS X Tiger is the perfect choice of operating system to host a website. Check it out below to find out more.

Don’t forget to keep submitting those questions in the AAM forums if you want those questions answered! Until next time.

Question of the Week

How do I make my Mac into a Web Host and Mail Server?

Question by: Alleyway61

Can anyone help or put me in the right direction. Maybe there are some online instructions or a guide somewhere?

Having just built my own website (some friends have too) I think it is too damn pricey to pay a website host provider money each month for very little online space. I would like to turn my second mac into a host for both mine and my friends’ sites, thus hosting for free.

This will also be great as i won’t be limited with host space (well the max HD of the machine I suppose) being able to host larger quicktime movies and larger images etc would be really be amazing.

Is anyone able to give any suggestions?

Answer of the Week

Answer by: Hadley Stern

Sure there are a couple of parts to this. The first is your network connection itself, and the second is the software on your machine.

The machine part is pretty easy. OS X Tiger includes Apache, which is an industry-leading web hosting piece of software. You can also very easily get php and mysql going on your Mac to install any number of LAMP blog products (open source and otherwise).

To start up your web server go to System Preferences/Sharing and active Personal Web Sharing.

If your machine is directly connected to the internet you are all set. If not, you need to open up port 80 on your router to point to your machine.

Now to the network connection. In order to get the outside world to see you, machine users will have to enter in your IP address. The problem is almost all broadband connections are dynamic, meaning the IP address can change. There are a number of services out there that help alleviate this issue, one of the best is dyndns.org. For the fabulous price of free you can get a domain from them like mywebsite.unixrocks.com. They have a few domains like unixrocks, etc. available. Once you are registered Dyndns matches your IP address with your account and pushes any requests from the web to the address you have signed up with to your computer where your website is hosted. They even have a little app you can download that will ping Dyndns whenever your IP address changes.

There are other things to consider in setting up a home server, stuff like backup, power backup, and the fact that your connection is often shared (and that upload speeds are always slower). But for a pet project or a small site it can be a good way to go.

Did that help?

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  • I would rather spend my money on the best web analytics tools and paying for a professional host service than turn my own computer into a server. Having a computer server in your own home requires a lot of work and time which I don’t have.

    annekingsy had this to say on Oct 18, 2011 Posts: 22
  • Great article although I have to agree with anne.Turning your own computer into a server is not something you should do because not only it is a lot of work but you will have to use it only for that server.I used do some web design Tucson and kept a game server on my computer and I must tell you my computer was behaving really strange.

    Aramica had this to say on Oct 27, 2011 Posts: 14
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