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I'm setting up a web server for a small business, and the only ISPs in our area are Comcast (15MBPS upstream) and Qwest (90KBPS upstream). Qwest seems completely unbearable as a choice for server hosting, but they have no clause in their Acceptable Use Policy or Terms of Service barring businesses from hosting websites. Comcast however; strictly forbids it. The owner of the business wants to go ahead with hosting on Comcast, however; I informed him of the small detail in the AUP. He didn't seem concerned about it, because he thought this policy was only enforced when Comcast received complaints about illicit content, or we exceed the 250GB bandwidth quota. I was less convinced. The problem is, Comcast seems to be the only option to server hosting, unless we outsource to another company, and lose direct access to the server, the operating system, and our privacy. What should I recommend? Should I advise him to take the risk and host on Comcast, or simply avoid setting up a website in the first place. We aren't expecting the site to suddenly get a whole bunch of traffic.

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"We outsorce to another company, and lose direct access to the server, the operating system, and our privacy" This is absolutely incorrect. You might not have personal access to the server, but every decent hosting provider will have 'remote hands' who can do any physical work required. And you can get full root/admin access to the OS to do everything you could do if it's local. Infact, I'd go as far as to say it would be less secure being hosted on a private network. Most DCs have 24/7 security, CCTV, logged/keycard access etc. –  sam Jul 19 '11 at 7:29
    
Look for a provider that does PCI certification on servers, PCI means the servers, datacenter and staff have been examined and the security of the service confirmed. When it comes down to it 99% of security is down to software, not physical location –  sam Jul 19 '11 at 7:31
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4 Answers

Why not host the website somewhere else? Why do you HAVE to host onsite? I recommend you use a VPS or some other hosted service. Those bandwidth choices are really terrible and I doubt you'll be able to maintain any kind of reasonable uptime.

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There are also plenty of hosting providers that give you access to the OS. If you're Linux savvy Linode is quite excellent. –  SpacemanSpiff Jul 14 '11 at 15:19
    
We need very good security that simply can't be insured by outsourcing (and potentially not even knowing what COUNTRY we're going to be hosted in), and the owner of the company insists on hosting on-site and refuses to use an off-site hosting service. Also; we don't need a HUGE amount of bandwidth, as we're a very small business and are not expecting a tremendous number of hits. –  IDWMaster Jul 14 '11 at 15:47
    
Linode looks like a good service, but unfortunately the owner doesn't want to outsource hosting unless Comcast cancels his service. –  IDWMaster Jul 14 '11 at 15:51
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So rent space at a co-location facility and put your hardware there. –  SpacemanSpiff Jul 14 '11 at 17:22
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You're looking at residential connections. Remember, you can often get Comcast business internet with a better service level agreement and different terms of service.

Personally, there's nothing wrong with getting an unmanaged dedicated server or VPS somewhere remote via a respectable web hosting company.

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Can you get Comcast Business for a small-business operated from a residential area? –  IDWMaster Jul 14 '11 at 15:47
    
I've heard mixed reports of people both able and not able to get Comcast business internet in a residential area. I'm actually going to give it a shot the next time I move, but your best bet is contacting a Comcast rep and seeing if it's available. –  lunixbochs Jul 14 '11 at 16:07
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We do some hosting on our inhouse comcast circuit, nothing mission critical or anything, and haven't had any complaint from CC. I'd have to re-read the contract but I don't remember reading anything that would prevent us from hosting client facing services, web or otherwise. That being said I'd reevaluate your position on "outsourcing". A VPS will only cost you the loss of worrying about server hardware, you'd maintain everything else you listed as a "loss".

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I host some servers on a ComCast 'business' connection, mostly just a public VPN server for employees to remote in for dev. work, and clients to check out what we've got in dev. for them. The service itself is alright, although not fantastic. If I were trying to make money off of it, the story might be different.

One serious problem, though, is that the 'business' class router ComCast provides (an SMC unit) is just garbage. It's extremely locked down to what you can do and access with it. For example, they lock down SNMP, which leaves you unable to monitor your own device! As a business, I have a problem with that. Also, the public facing server is actually a Heartbeat cluster, or is supposed to be --the SMC router doesn't play well with the ARP stuff that goes on to enable failover, and so instead of having a hot standby, I have a cold standby. I have to leave the second machine off. Kinda defeats the purpose of a cluster...There may be other ways around it, but for any sane router, I shouldn't have to figure it out/work around the router.

Also, even ComCast business support is terrible --they walk you through the same 'troubleshooting' steps as they do for a residential connection. Turn it off, turn it back on, blah blah blah. Nevermind that that is totally unfit for a business situation, especially if you're trying to host a server! In my particular case, it turned out to be their DNS servers were down, which I tried to convince them of with some basic networking, to no avail. I actually told them about it before they knew their DNS was down...

So, I don't know, it's a mixed bag. If this is supposed to generate revenue for you, go to a reliable hosting provider. If security is an issue, host your own box. I've seen a lot of places doing 1u colo's for $50/u/month, which is less than the cost of the ComCast business connection.

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but can you bridge the business router, or simply forward all the ports to one local IP (another router)? that'd remove any LAN problems it causes. I've also seen claims people were able to get their own modems working. –  lunixbochs Jul 14 '11 at 16:08
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