The Internet, at Your Service

The Internet, at Your Service

What you do on the Internet is a function of who you are and what you want to accomplish. An Internet presence can be as simple as a set of Web pages that trumpet to the world your personal tastes in music and literature. It can be as complex as a full-fledged online catalog sales company, replete with shopping carts, virtual cashiers, automatic e-mail notification, password-protected customer accounts, and encryption capabilities to ensure secure transactions.

 Tip  If you’re interested in doing something as foolhardy, er, complex as setting up your own online catalog sales company, you need much more information than we have space to provide in this book about UNIX. Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 3rd Edition, by Greg Holden (Wiley Publishing, Inc.), gives you some hints of where to start.

To make things as simple as possible, you have only two realistic approaches to getting yourself an Internet presence. The approach that’s right for you depends on what you want to do, how much time and money you’re willing to spend, and the height of your technical pain threshold:

  • Host your own site. To host your own site, you need at least one dedicated computer, permanently connected to the Internet and running some brand of Web server software. Hosting your own site requires you to act as your own system administrator and Webmaster (the author and manager of your Web site). Although administering and maintaining your own Web site is not for the technically faint of heart, it’s well within the powers of a mere mortal such as yourself. In exchange for the money you spend to buy the stuff you need and the time you spend to set everything up and keep it running, you get complete freedom and total control over whatever it is you want to do on the Internet. Because a permanent Net connection good enough to run servers (home cable modems and DSL won’t do) costs at least several hundred dollars per month, you probably don’t want to choose this approach until you’re sure that you’re serious about your Web site.

  • Get someone to host your site for you. In practice, that “someone” usually turns out to be an Internet service provider, or ISP. ISPs are the people who sell you basic Internet services, such as e-mail and Web access. Many ISPs also offer Web-hosting services: For a monthly fee, they do all the technical heavy lifting for you. If you don’t need your own dedicated server, you can usually buy a few megabytes of space on one of your ISP’s servers for about $20 a month (less, in some cases) and upload your Web pages via FTP.

A complete discussion of setting up your own Web site is well beyond the scope of this book. It’s a book in its own right, in fact. Nonetheless, in the following sections, we try to give you some pointers to get you started on the right foot.

 Tip  For a discussion of Webmastering that doesn’t shy away from the gory details, see Building a Web Site For Dummies, by David and Crowder Rhonda Crowder (Wiley Publishing, Inc.).

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