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Suggestions for virtual Windows Server Hosting?

Hi,

My question: can anyone recommend an inexpensive and effective internet hosting plan running Windows based servers?

The 'twist' is: the application I am working on for a client uses a customized FTP server that will carry data for this client's application service provider concept. Sic - this is NOT a request for a simple ASP web hosting site. The FTP server itself is an ordinary Windows GUI application (I am developing it), not an NT service. So I "guess" that I need a way to administer the FTP application remotely. And, I need access to one dedicated IP address for the FTP server's use.

Now, the politics of it: my client really, really wants to run a DSL or T-1 line to his offices and buy and run his own server box. The problem is that this client and his staff are VERY low tech (think DOS hacks self-retrained in Windows: even talking to them about ANY internet concepts such as bandwidth risks them getting an aneurism) -  I think that a virtual hosting solution fits the way their company actually runs and their (lack of) competency MUCH better than  them flattering themselves into thinking they can admin their own servers.

The point is, I think I should set up a test account with a virtual host, so that I have a working installation to talk to them about, since they can't understand simple explanations of how this remote server stuff operates. By the same token, I am unclear myself how a remote virtual Windows site would be administered remotely.

Thanks for any tips, pointers, caveats, etc.

Freelance Developer
Saturday, January 11, 2003

What you're looking for isn't virtual hosting. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to let you run your own executable programs on a virtual hosting plan. Since virtual hosting means that you're sharing your box with other accounts (anywhere from 20 to 100 other accounts, depending on your monthly usage of processor and bandwidth resources), any executable of yours that you run becomes a security/stability risk for the other accounts hosted on your machine.

What you're looking for is server colocation or dedicated hosting. With server colocation, you own the server and you pay a company to provide bandwidth and manage the server's administration. With dedicated hosting, you don't own the server, you're just paying for the privelege of being the only client hosted on that server.

Prices for colocation and dedicated hosting vary wildly. I've been hosting my company's website (using Virtual Hosting, however) at http://www.mediatemple.net and I'm pretty happy with them. They have some dedicated hosting plans, although they don't do any colocation.

(I don't work for MediaTemple.)

Benji Smith
Monday, January 13, 2003

Benji -

Thanks. Yeah, "awwwwk!" was basically the sound emitted by one web host when I posted the same question to their internal support board.

Their take was exactly the same as yours - due to security issues, this could only be done via a dedicated or co-located hosting plan wherein I/we own the box running the code. Which I think is vast overkill for this application, so I am looking at re-specifying the file upload interface.
I'm going to start a new thread asking for other alternatives. Thanks for your time.

Freelance Developer
Monday, January 13, 2003

Hi!

As for "Windows" shared hosting, I must admit that I am not too sure, as my experience is quite limited. But on shared Linux hosting servers is quite a common practice to let the user run their own apps (not only script-type apps such as perl, python or PHP, but also compiled binaries ;) At least, my host lets me run them, and I chose them based mainly on price, but most of the other offers I saw allow compiled binaries, too

Javier
Monday, January 13, 2003

Won't fly. My client is a Windows shop. I wouldn't even let them within 5 miles of a Linux root command prompt...

Freelance Developer
Monday, January 13, 2003

Even on a shared Linux server, I doubt whether they'd have special ports open to the net for custom programs.

I do know of a couple shared-hosting services oriented towards Delphi that allow for ISAPI dll's on shared computers at reasonable prices.  Don't know whether you're comfortable converting your app to an ISAPI dll, but here's a link for one: http://www.tdmweb.com/productswin.htm

Their price is just 100 British pounds per year, I think (what is that, around $150US?)    And their servers are located in U.S.

Herbert Sitz
Monday, January 13, 2003

Hmmm...
Well, why are you using FTP anyway? If you use an HTTP standard such as WebDAV, you can run programs from CGI or other web interfaces. Some hosting places will let you install and run your own apache modules, etc.

Also, HTTP/1.1 is designed for virtual hosting--you don't use a dedicated IP address, but the protocol itself specifies the server to use.

I'm also confused as to why you'd write a server as a GUI application. A server doesn't need any GUI. The administrative tool for the server might, but the two can talk over a custom protocol.

And since the protocol is a standard, it doesn't matter if the server is linux or windows or whatever. the configuration is all done through some sort of UI anyway, not through a shell prompt.

mb
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

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