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This is my first question on a stack-exchange site. I appreciate the community taking a moment to look at it.

The wife and I are looking at starting a few services/businesses/products on our own. Some technical related, some not; just chasing our hobbies and interests.

Looking around at the costs versus control of shared hosting, virtual hosting, collocation, etc I've come to the conclusion I'd rather manage the infrastructure and server(s) myself from my house until the viability of the companies is determined and can pay for collocation themselves or we have an office to put them in. I know I'm small potatoes and have no delusions of Google-level traffic; I just want to implement something clean and stable.

I have the chops to run the server, the modem/router configuration, and manage the DNS, but I am wary of making a decision on the broadband provider without doing some research and getting others opinions. Currently we have a consumer account with Qwest DSL and i'm not "wowed" but perhaps moving to their small business class would be better.

I would like: -1 static IP; ability to buy more -1.5 mb in both directions (currently only consistently getting a third of that with Qwest; a tenth of that upstream) -the flexibility of being able to let my home/kid machines still work without having to pay for another account -control over IP and port mappings.

I think the providers in my area (Minneapolis metro area) are: -Qwest -Comcast -USI Wireless (municipal wireless) -perhaps others.

What have your experiences been with performance and price of the broadband providers that you've dealt with? If you have links to good references or providers, please share. Thanks again!

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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Rhycer - I live in the Twin Cities and will give a hearty recommendation for IPHouse. You already have a Qwest DSL circuit provisioned to your house, so it should be fairly seamless to call IPHouse and have them become the active ISP on your circuit. They'll give you a static IP (or more if you need it) along with free rein to host whatever you want from your house (as long as it's legal).

Edit: Regarding the other providers - unless you want to pony up for a business-class account, stay far away from Comcast. Likewise for USI Wireless - hosting over a wireless connection is just a recipe for trouble.

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Thanks Joe K and ErikA; these are both great answers that really pertain to my situation. This ipHouse company will more than likely ultimately be the solution for my both short and long term. Sorry I can't upvote either of you since I'm new. :| –  rhycer Dec 7 '09 at 21:40
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Most DSL upstream is less than 768kbit/s. If that's all you require, or you can get a lot more, that's great. Otherwise it would seem to be the limiting factor.

I used to "do it all myself" on static DSL and it was nice to be able to fix any of it, without having to pass it off to another party's tech support. It's also nice to know your mail and DNS is in your hands. But I got really tired of keeping up with DNS vulnerabilities and other patching, and I was worried about the single point of failure.

Also, the 1500/384 static DSL was the same price as 18000/1500 Uverse, and I was tied to it because of the dependance my business and customers had on it. It was a big relief to get them all back on the registrar's DNS service and be able to switch the DSL service off.

I decided my personal and small business website needs were really static content only, and I put them on Amazon S3 and pointed to it with the registrar's URL forwarding. This is very cheap (My S3 bill is under $0.25 a month), and I know I can put a large, popular file up there with no worries. Of course you can also use Amazon S3 to store arbitrary files linked from your slower connection.

I decided to keep a 1U HP Proliant server ($300 on ebay) on a rack at a local ISP. That gives me a machine with 10MBps up/down for $75/month running my mail server.

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I think that this is something that everyone has to go through a time or two before realizing that it's a lot of heartburn. :) I'm not criticizing you, I've taken this route personally and even professionally.

The problems are these:

1) Standard residential and small business grade bandwidth quality stinks. Remember that if you've got good content, you're not just hosting it for humans, but for those pesky search engine spiders that'll be crawling the site almost constantly. You also aren't going to get much of an uptime guarantee (if any). I've had business-grade DSL go out for days...all you get is a little money back.

2) Power! It's gonna go out...how long can your little UPS keep things alive?

3) Who do you call when you're on vacation and something goes wrong? The neighbor kid?

4) Do you have a good local source for hardware? How long will it take you to get a memory module? A power supply? A motherboard? A whole new server? Everything breaks!

So right from the start you're facing a whole bunch of challenges, and here's the kicker: it's not going to be cheaper. That is, if you're doing this for business reasons out of your home, it's not going to be cheaper.

If you've been looking around trying to price things out and are coming up with a big cost savings by doing it yourself, then:

a) You're not looking at the right products.

b) You're not factoring everything in. You've got to think about the price of the line (often this can be more than dedicated hosting or VPS), hardware costs, power costs, etc. Add it all up and run some monthly numbers. Surprise!

Now that's not to say that it's always more expensive to do it yourself. You're going to have various resources at your disposal and maybe you can fudge it to make it pay off. I just think it'd be pretty darn difficult to compete with a data center. And cost isn't everything...you want your sites to be snappy and highly available 24x7.

So somebody already mentioned Amazon. I throw in a nod towards Rackspace Cloud Servers, where you can provision a full blown Linux server (many flavors available) in minutes, starting at about $12 per month. Scale it up or scale it down as needed, nearly instantly. These new "cloud" trends in server and app hosting are really interesting. Even if you go the standard old fashioned route of VPS or dedicated, prices are fairly low and most importantly, you still have a phone number to call while you're on vacation (e.g. when everything breaks).

At any rate, this doesn't answer your question. But I think I know where you're at, and maybe this will help down the road. Have fun and good luck!

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