...for the not-so-experienced Windows users
There are many reasons why you or many other persons or groups would like to have a Web site, and hosting the Web site yourself has its advantages, such as:
This tutorial has been designed to provide you with the knowlegde needed to get started with having your own site and hosting it yourself with your own computer. To host a Web site from your own computer, it will be necessary that the computer be running (and connected to the Internet) at times when someone might want to look at your site, though it is preferred that the computer always be on (and connected). It is NOT required that you have any experience at all in this field or any technical knowledge of computer networks. It IS though expected that you know how to browse the Web and hoped for that you can handle using simple computer programs. The hosting referred to and explained will be using the freeware Windows program, NetworkActiv Web Server; This server software was designed to be very easy to use and can be quickly set-up. It contains no ads or other filth, can be freely downloaded (without hassle) and freely used (for personal or commercial uses). Instructions on how to use this software will be provided in the hosting section (far below). The novice in this field should follow this tutorial from top to bottom... only skipping a section if they are certain that they either already understand it or that they don't need it for what they are wishing to do.
The name says that it's a site (kindof like a place of being or a location) that is of the Web (not just a web, this is why the upper-case W).
Many Web pages on the Internet are dynamically generated. What this means is that the HTML file that makes the Web page, and possibly even the images on the page are not real files but are created by either the Web server, a server-side-scripting handler, or another generator of some sort right when the page is requested by the browser, or periodically.
The basic categories of dynamic content generators are as follows:
The standard Web page content types are as follows:
Web pages documents are the main files that compose Web pages. These documents will control how stuff (such as pictures and text) is layed out on the page and will also dictate the fonts and colours used. Most Web pages only have one of these documents. Web page documents are in their selves, a file, just as with other documents (such as Word documents or plain text documents).
There are various types (formats) of Web page documents, the most common being HTML (Hyper-Text-Markup-Language). HTML is technically composed of code like text (in some regards similar to computer programming code, but simpler). There are two general ways of creating your own HTML documents... (A) Creating them yourself manually using a text editor program (such as Notepad or Wordpad), or (B) Using a Web page creation tool such as Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Studio. Both of these programs are rather costly and are somewhat complicated to use.
Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice is a freely available office tools suite (similar to Microsoft Office). In the Writer program of OpenOffice (equivalent to Microsoft Word), you can create documents (just as you would with Microsoft Word) and save them in HTML format. These can even contain pictures. When you save a document with pictures in HTML format using OpenOffice, it will create a file named as you have specified and will create files named almost the same for each picture that was in the document. This is no problem and can be served with a Web server. I know this may sound a little confusing so far, but give it a try: (1) Get and install OpenOffice, (2) Open up the Writer program that it installed, (3) Create a simple document; (you may even open a Word document you have); drag some pictures that you have onto this document somewhere, and then (4) Go to the File menu and choose Save As.... On the Save As dialog, find the drop-down box named Save as type:, drop it down and choose the type HTML Document. This option should be near the bottom of the list. Then simply decide on a name, type it in, choose a location you know (like the Desktop or My Documents) and save it. After it's done saving, open the saved HTML file by double clicking it (from the location you saved it to, such as My Documents or the Desktop (or wherever else you might have saved it to)) or open your favorite Web browser and then choose File->Open and find the file you just saved.
Microsoft Word supposedly can also save in HTML format. I don't have it here to try so I can't give details but I bet creating an HTML file with Word is similar to the steps outlined in the above paragraph about OpenOffice.
There are many other not-so-common programs for creating Web pages, some are freeware. See download site listings such as Tucows' HTML Editors listing for lists of programs available in this field, or see Nonags' HTML Editors listing for a list that should only contain freeware.
If you want to become a techie in this field and/or just like to do things the manual way, you can create the HTML files yourself using simple text editors (such as Notepad and Wordpad). There are countless HTML tutorials available on the Web, the most popular being W3 Schools HTML Tutorial. W3 Schools provides much much information on the topic of Web page/site related programming and is an excellent place to begin if you want to do things manually. As you may have guessed, this very page was created manually. If you want an idea of what HTML code looks like, right-click (with your right-hand-side mouse button) on this page (NOT on a link or a picture) and click View Page Source or View Source.
Web pages usually contain one or more image. Images can help to make a page more friendly and not so boring, just as a book with images is usually more interesting than one without. Web page images, just as Web page documents, Web page downloadables, and other standard Web page content are stored on the server computer in the form of files. Each image usually has its own file. Just as Web page documents, Web page images have multiple common formats. Different formats are for different purposes. There are some formats that can, but should NOT be used on Web pages. This is because some image formats are too large in file size and therefore make the page take too long to load (not very much fun when a picture takes 60 seconds to load right?), well that problem can oftenly be avoided if you know what types to use for what...
Common Web page image formats and their uses, ups, and downs:
JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the industry standard format for compressed (disk-space-efficient) photographic images (like pictures of people and stuff). This format is very efficient on processing time (how hard it is on your CPU to handle) and also provides very good compression levels for photographic images, such as real-world pictures of things with many colour shades and details. There are varying levels of compression that you can choose when saving in the JPEG format, with around the upper-middle usually being desirable for Web pages. This format SHOULD be used for your photographic images, but should NOT be used for things like sketches, outlines, and diagrams.
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) is the industry standard format for highly compressed (disk-space-efficient) diagram, sketch, and outline graphics and is also very commonly used for its ability to have changing pictures, that is, pictures that alternate between multiple things, usually continually. This is the format usually used for ad banners (note how so many alternate between different things while you're looking at them). GIF is very very efficient in file size compared to most all the other formats when it comes to images of diagrams, outlines, and sketches. GIF SHOULD be used for diagrams, outlines, and sketches, but should NOT be used for photographic images. There are Web sites available that provide animated GIFs for use on your Web pages. One such place is www.animations.com. For tools related to making your own GIF animations, see Tucows' Animation Creators listing. Note that not all the tools in these listings are for the GIF format, so be sure to see the descriptions for what formats they make.
BMP (Bitmap) is the industry standard format for non-compressed images. Since it's not compressed, the file sizes can be very large and it is therefore not reasonable for use on Web pages. BMP files should NOT be used on Web pages UNLESS the absolute perfection of the quality of the image is required, such as perhaps for important scientific images, such as x-rays or pictures from a microscope that will be used for medical and/or scientific purposes.
There are many other formats of images. Most are not compressed or have poor compression and should not be used on Web pages. You should use either JPEG or GIF images for your pictures. There are many programs available for viewing and/or converting images from one format to another. My favorite program for viewing images is Irfan Viewer. Irfan Viewer supports, well pretty much any image format you'll ever (at least at this time (2006)) come into contact with and can quickly convert whole folders of image files to a specified format. Please note, converting an image from a higher compression level (lower quality) to a lower compression level (higher quality, but bigger) will NOT increase the quality and is just a waste of time and space. This is like taking a picture (with a high quality camera) of a picture that was taken with a low quality camera. It's not going to magically get better looking.
Creating your own images:
If you want to create your own diagrams, sketchs, outlines, edit photographs, or create your own high-quality graphics, you will need a skillful image editor such as Adobe Photoshop or The GIMP. Adobe Photoshop is very expensive and so the GNU freeware program, The GIMP is probably more of a reasonable idea. The GIMP is not so good as Adobe Photoshop and is not so easy to use (time: April 2006), but still provides a good set of advanced features. All the diagrams on this page were made with The GIMP. (ps., I'm still pretty new to The GIMP)
Macromedia Flash animations are like images, but, well, animated. They are far more capable and look much better than using GIF for animations, can be interactive, and can have sound. Macromedia Flash is a proprietary format developed by Macromedia (now Adobe). Though this format requires that the Web browser have a special interpreter installed (called the Macromedia Flash Player), it is still pretty safe to use on your site because almost everyone already has this installed in their browser. To create Macromedia Flash animations, you will need one of their creation tools, such as Flash Professional, or perhaps a third party tool such as one from the Tucows' Flash Creators listing. For a detailed history of Macromedia Flash, see Macromedia Flash in the Wikipedia.
You can add sounds to your Web pages by having the page reference a sound file that is also being served by the server. There are two basic format types of Web page sound... Actual audio, and simple music.
Actual audio sound enables you to have things like voice and actual music (like normal songs) playing on your page (when visited). Please note from the start here that it's not reasonable for you to actually have a real song playing when someone views your page, but sometimes it's okay to have a loop of a small part of a song. You can also have you short voice clip play, perhaps to welcome the viewer to your page. Embedding sounds in your page may require some actual knowlegde of HTML because it may not be supported by the HTML editor/Web page creator that you use. I have never tried to use an HTML editor/Web page creator to add sound to a page and so don't know how it would be done. For information on embedding sound in your page the manual way, see W3Schools' HTML Audio Tutorial. If you wish to be able to record and create your own sound files for use on Web pages, I recommend the GNU freeware program, Audacity. Audacity is a highly capable, professional audio editing program. The payware equivalent is Adobe Audition. Audition is the continuation of what used to be called Cool Edit, that is, until Adobe bought it.
Simple music can be reasonably accomplished by imbedding a sound of the file format known as MIDI (the MID file extension, originating from its use in Musical-Instrument-Digital-Interface, the standard means by which musical equipment communicates with other musical equipment). MIDI's can sound pretty much like a real song, though oftenly somewhat computer sounding, but can not contain voices or other real-world recordings. They are very efficient as far as size and so you can easily have a whole song's worth on a page without hurting the page load time. For information on embedding MIDI's and other sound in your page the manual way, see this page. There are pretty much endless pages available on the Web with free-to-download MIDI files. Some popular ones are MIDI DataBase, and IFNI Free MIDI Music.
In addition to embedded Web page sounds, you can have embedded Web page videos. There are several different formats of video that can be used for this. Some are proprietary, such as Real Video, Windows Media Video (WMV), and Quicktime, while others, such as Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and Audio Video Interleave (AVI) are not so proprietary and are therefore more widely supported. The safest (most compatible) format to use is MPEG, then AVI, then WMV. Quicktime (MOV file extension) requires the Quicktime player and the format is completely proprietary, meaning that programmers can't develop their own players for the format. This makes it necessary to use Quicktime, a program that when used in the free form nags the user. Real Video is just as proprietary and requires Real Player to play. WMV is almost as proprietary and is therefore also not recommended. I must say though, if you don't care about the compatibility of your site, Real Video and Windows Media Video (WMV) are neat because they're really efficient on file size. Though I have not tried using an HTML Editor/Web page creator to embed a video on a Web page, I imagine that some of these programs have the ability to do this. For information on embedding video on your Web pages manually, see W3Schools' HTML5 Video, Embedded Media HTML Generator, and or WWW FAQs: How do I add video to my web site?.
The computers connected to the Internet, not just the average Internet user, but also the computers running server software need to be addressable. That is, there needs to be some kind of way to address (and differentiate) one computer on the Internet from another. This is necessary for a computer to be able to request files from another (via HTTP, or another protocol) and is also necessary for the response to a request (the files that have been successfully requested) to come back to the requester. This means that all the computers need to have an address of one kind or another... With computers behind gateway routers (oftenly called simply, routers) (like those Netgear's, Linksys's, and D-Link's you've seen, used, and/or heard about), things get a little more complicated and this will be explained later on in this tutorial.
For now we will explain IP Addresses, Hostnames, and Domains, along with how they relate to one another.
Remember that no matter how you address a computer that's hosting Web site on the Internet, it's really IP addresses that make it possible to access and to request files from it. Many Web sites can be accessed by their IP address(es) in addition to their domain. We will talk about getting your own domain (which costs money) or your own sub-domain (from a sub-domain provider, which is usually free) later on in this tutorial.
A computer file is a digitally stored, addressable, named block of information. It can contain any kind of digital data, such as text (letters and words and stuff like that), images (pictures), a computer program, a database, a spreadsheet, or any other information that can be stored digitally. As previously mentioned, most Web page content is in the form of one or more files.
Files are named. The common format (style) of name used by files today is a base describing name, for example, A letter to Bob, and a file name extension (called simply, a file extension), say, .doc. The base name is for you to describe what the file is about, while the file extension is used by programs to tell what type of file it is, such as a Word document (.doc), a program (usually .exe), an image (commonly .jpg), and so on. The two name segments are put together as description.extension. For example, a Word document named A letter to Bob would most likely be named A letter to Bob.doc. On older file systems (that is, on old computers), the base name could only be up to 8 characters (letters/numbers) long, and the extension could only be up to 3 characters long. In today's world, the base name length and the extension length are basically unlimited (at least as far as being practical is concerned). On most computers running Windows, the file extension is not shown. This was done because it was feared that persons unaware of the purpose of the extension would either delete (erase) it or change it to something else, causing the program that's supposed to open that type of file to not know what it is, and not see it (for programs normally only look at files with extensions they know). It's probably also not normally shown because they figure it's not aesthetically pleasing. If you wish to see the extensions on your files, see Configuring Windows To Show Extensions or Showing File Extensions. Being able to see the extensions on your files is helpful when you develop Web pages. The addressability of files will be addressed in the What are paths? section (just below).
Folders are like sizeless boxes that can contain zero or more files and/or zero or more other folders (known as sub-folders). Like domains and sub-domains, folders are set-up in a hierarchical structure, only in this case, it's more intuitive. Since folders are like sizeless boxes that can contain other boxes that can contain other boxes, the box most outside is the highest (most significant) folder. Also, unlike with domains, the most significant container is on the left (not the right like with domains). The order of significancy is therefore reversed. On computers, the most significant folder is usually considered to be a drive. A drive is basically a base folder that usually directly corresponds to a particular physical (real-world, touchable) storage device, such as a floppy disk drive, CD (Compact Disc) drive, DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) drive, USB flash drive, or hard drive. These types of devices most always end in drive (as all the previously mentioned storage devices do). On a PC (Personal Computer), the base folders corresponding to the drives are usually in the form of x:, where x is a letter of the alphabet.
Folders are named. However, unlike files, folders do NOT normally have extensions. They are usually just a describing name. This is because there aren't really different types of folders. Every folder is for the same purpose... To potentially contain other files and folders. To be technical, some folks use folders on Web page file listings (and other types of file listings) to provide information... by putting some kind of instructions or information directly in the names. This is one of the unusual exceptions though as most folders are for holding files and folders. One more thing about the names... Drives usually end in a colon ( : ). This lets you know it's not just a folder, but a drive (basically the highest on the totem pole of folders) as non-drive folders are not permitted to have colons in their names.
Paths (in this case, also known as file paths) are strings of text used to address a particular file, usually contained within a folder, that folder possibly being a folder contained one or more levels deep within other folders. Since folders are hierarchical, and since paths are usually made up mostly of folder names, paths are also hierarchical. Paths are used by Web pages (in the HTML and such) to address certain content that the page has, such as pictures.
Links are clickable entities that contain a path. When clicked, the Web browser will access (fetch) the file addressed by the path in the link that was clicked. If it's a path to a Web page document, it will show you (usually by going to) that Web page. If it's a path to a picture, it will usually show you that picture. If it's a link to a non-Web-page file type, it will bring up a download box that usually lets you choose a location to save that file to on your own computer. There are different types of paths that can be used on/in Web pages, see below.
Specific types of paths:
This type of path is used to address a file located on the same Web site. Note that it contains all the folders, but not the site name (IP address/domain).
This type of path is used to address a file located in the same folder as the page addressing it.
This type of path is used to address a file located in a folder contained within the folder of the page addressing it. It's essential to notice that there is NO slash ( / ) before the folder name. When there is a slash before the folder name, it becomes a local path and not a relative path. A slash before the first folder is a sign saying Go back up to the domain and work down from there. Note that you can also access multiple levels deeper than the folder containing the page addressing the file, not just one level like in this example.
This type of path is used to address a file located on a different Web site. Note that you can use this type for files on the same Web site, but it's not recommended as it can cause problems when trying to view the page locally (that is, while you're making it).
This is the same as above but with an IP address in place of the domain/sub-domain.
The above are Web based paths. Non-Web based paths are similar, but there are a few differences. Non-Web based paths are used to access files on your computer (or sometimes on other computers on your local area network (LAN)). Non-Web based paths have backslashes '\'s instead of forward slashes '/'s. Also, since non-Web based paths don't access domains but instead access drives (as the base container), you usually have a drive letter with a colon at the front, and no http://. Sometimes, as oftenly with files over a LAN, you have a computer name with \\ added to the front before the drive letters and/or folders. See below for various examples of non-Web based paths.
This type of path is used to address a file located on the same drive.
This type of path is used to address a file located in the same folder of the same drive.
This type of path is used to address a file located in a folder contained within the current folder. It's essential to notice that there is NO backslash ( \ ) before the folder name. When there is a backslash before the folder name, it becomes a local path and not a relative path. A backslash before the first folder is a sign saying Go back up to the drive and work down from there. Note that you can also access multiple levels deeper than the current folder, not just one level like in this example.
This type of path is used to address a file located on a different drive.
This type of path is used to address a file located on a different computer. Note that the drive letter uses a money sign ( $ ) instead of a colon ( : ).
This is the same as above but with an IP address in place of the computer's hostname.
Important Notice: Never use non-Web based paths in your Web pages. Don't use them for content, don't use them for links. It may seem alright when your page loads on the local computer, but for someone else viewing your site, it will not work! It is best to use Web based relative paths when you can, and sometimes okay to use Web based local paths. Web based absolute paths are only recommended for linking to other Web sites.
If you are to be creating a Web site, downloading and using files, and using a computer in general, it's essential that you understand how to manage your files and folders. Web pages consist of files, programs consist of files, and downloads consist of files. For this reason, you need to know how to find, organize, copy, move, and rename your files. If you already feel confident in all those tasks just mentioned, you may skip this section. If not, it is highly recommended (and pretty much essential) that you read on here and try some basic file management tasks.
First, you need to understand the main tools provided with Windows for the management of files, folders, and drives. See below for a short description of each, including how to get there.
This is the most important tool provided in Windows to manage your files, folders, and drives. To open up Windows Explorer, either right-click (with your right-hand-side mouse button) on the Windows Start button and choose Explore, or if your OS version doesn't have that option, click the Windows Start button, choose Run..., type explorer.exe into the Open: field, and then press the OK button.
Though not so convenient as Windows Explorer is with copying files from one folder to another and with performing certain other tasks, My Computer still provides most of the same functionality. Many people prefer My Computer because it's simpler to use and shows less on the screen at once. This is because it only shows one folder at a time, unless you have more than one My Computer open at the same time. My Computer should be located either on your Windows Desktop and/or in your start menu. You can simply double-click it (or sometimes just single-click it) to open it.
Renaming a file using Windows Explorer or My Computer is a very easy task. Simply right-click the file and choose Rename, type in the new name for the file, and press your keyboard's Enter key or click away from the file. Note that this process also applies to renaming folders.
Moving a file using Windows Explorer or My Computer is a pretty easy thing to do. There are two basic ways of doing this, (1) by dragging and (2) by cutting and pasting. Since we're using screenshots here, it's easier to show the cutting and pasting method. To move a file by cutting and pasting, right-click the file and choose Cut, then go to the new location, right-click in the white space, and click Paste. Once you paste it to the new location, it's no longer in the old one. If after cutting you decide that you didn't really want to move it, you can simply cut some useless text by selecting it, right-clicking, and clicking Cut. The file should remain in its original location. Note that this process also applies to moving folders. When you move a folder, everything in it goes with it to the new location.
...and now for the result:
Creating a new folder using Windows Explorer or My Computer is a very easy thing to do. Simply right-click in the white space where you want a new folder, go to New, click Folder, type in the desired name, and press your keyboard's Enter key or click away from the folder.
...and now for the result:
Searching for files of a given type on your computer is not too difficult a thing to do. It can be quite useful and quite informative as computers these days often have tens of thousands (or more) files. There are probably many files that you don't know about on your computer, including images and Web page documents.
Follow these screenshot based steps to search for files of a given type on your computer:
XP users choose All files and folders:
XP/2000/2003 users search for HTML and JPEG files like this:
Other Windows users search for files like this:
Final notes on File Management with Microsoft Windows:
There is a lot to this topic and I have only covered some of the basics here, but this is nonetheless essential stuff to know. If you want to learn more about Windows based File Management, you may want to give a look to Windows Help (usually available through the Windows start menu), or check out some of the pages linked to below:
All the basic Web site creation and other related topics have been discussed and you should at this point be ready to start working with NetworkActiv Web Server. Don't worry if you haven't created any Web site or Web pages yet as you can always start off just sharing some pictures or something.
Following are sections that will cover the basic steps needed to host your Web site (or just some files) on the Web. A brief explanation of coming steps follows here:
Notice: Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) do not permit you to run a Web server. Some ISPs do permit it but will charge you a fee on your bill if they find out. I suppose that some ISPs might even cancel your account. For most people this will not happen, but because some ISPs mind this kind of stuff, you proceed here at Your Own Risk. NetworkActiv can NOT be held liable for any fees or other troubles you endure because your ISP minds you hosting a Web site. It is advised that you look into this, such as via your ISP's Web site or other documentation. If you can't find out there, contact your ISP. If they don't permit it, you could always try to get an ISP who does. I don't believe that people should be limited by their ISP on what they can use the connection for or how much they can use it.
First, determine if you need to create a new location for to hold your Web site files.
If you are going to or have already made an actual Web site or even just a single Web page, then this step is required.
If you haven't made any Web pages and don't plan to at this time then this step may not be required. This depends for the most part on just one thing... Are the files that you're planning to share located in a folder that contains files or folders that contain files that you don't want to share? If so, it may be necessary, or at least a good idea, to create a folder that is dedicated soley to the holding of files and folders that you want to be available on your Web site (this doesn't matter whether you've made any pages or not). The reason for this is that when you share a folder with the Web server, it makes available everything in that folder, including any folders (and everything in those folders) to those who visit your site.
If you feel the need based on the previous paragraphs to create a new folder, then follow the steps below, but if not, you may skip these steps and jump to the next main step (downloading the server software).
Determine where on your computer you want this folder to be located:
Two good places for such a folder are your Windows Desktop, and your My Documents folder. The reason for these locations is that it makes it really easy for you to get to and to change things (add or remove files to/from, rename files, etc.) whenever necessary. Other than these, a common choice by persons running servers is to create a new folder on the root of their hard drive. That (on the root / on root) means that it's not contained in any folder other than the drive letter itself. On root is a fine location, but unless you make a shortcut to the folder on your Desktop or in your Start menu it would require that you open up Windows Explorer or My Computer and then browse to (look around for) the folder.
Create the folder in the location determined in step 1 (just above):
Create the folder using the same steps as explained and shown previously in this tutorial (in Creating a new folder using Windows Explorer or My Computer). Note that you may use the same steps from that section on the blank space of your Windows Desktop or in your My Documents. The same thing applies... just right-click in the blank space (not on something) and choose New->Folder.
Move (or copy) the things that you wish to share into your new folder:
Either follow the steps as explained and shown previously in this tutorial (in Moving a file using Windows Explorer or My Computer), or if you don't want to move the files but wish to copy them, simply replace the step about clicking Cut with instead clicking Copy. When you use Copy instead of Cut the files will remain in their original location, even after pasting them to a new one.
It's time to get your download on!
As mentioned previously, the size is around 612 KB and should take less than four minutes on a dial-up modem. The program is NetworkActiv Web Server, a hassle-free, quick and easy to set up, freeware, Windows based Web server (also called an HTTP Daemon).
You can view it and download it from its page:
...or you can download it directly from
Be sure that when you click on the link to download it (from here or its page) you direct the browser to save it to a location you can easily find, such as your Windows Desktop. This is chosen on the download box that appears directly after (or one more step after) clicking the download link.
As mentioned previously, installation is only required if you wish to have shortcuts to the program in your start menu and/or on your desktop, or if you want the program to be able to start without you having to log into your computer (that is, to be able to run as a Windows Service). If you do not wish for these things and would rather just run the program from its executable file (the downloaded one), whether that mean finding it and running it or creating your own shortcut to it, you can skip this step and continue on to configuring the server software.
Run the downloaded executable file:
This is the file named NetworkActivWebServerV3.5.exe that was downloaded in the previous step (downloading the server software). When you find the file, simply double-click it (or on some systems just single-click it). If you are presented from Windows with a warning talking about it being an executable file, simply click the Run anyway or Run or Open anyway (I don't have the message here and so don't know exactly what it says but I know it shows on some systems). After you successfully find and run the file, you should be presented with a screen very similar to the following:
Get to the installation:
Click the Yes on the dialog asking whether you would like to install NetworkActiv Web Server.
Review license terms
Read the End User Legal Agreement (EULA) and scroll down while doing so:
Conclude agreement decision
If you understand and Agree to the entire presented Legal Statement, click the bottom button:
On the Installer dialog, you may leave all at default, or you can configure it as you wish. When you are done configuring, click the Install button:
To the result...
If you are then presented with an error, try to resolve the problem. On the message box stating that it has been successfully installed, click the OK button. The program should now be successfully installed and if you kept the option for Create Desktop Shortcut enabled, you should now have an icon on your desktop that looks like this
You have successfully installed the server software!
Configuring the server software should not take too long in general, but a particular part of it, that is, choosing a port number, might not be completable until after the next step (Getting it ready so that others on the Internet can access your Web site). Don't worry about what a port number is right now or how one chooses it as it will be explained in the next main step.
The steps to configuring the server software are explained and shown below.
Execute (run) the server software that you installed in the previous main step.
Simply run NetworkActiv Web Server by double-clicking (or on some systems, single-clicking) the program's main icon. This is the red one with the NA that when on the desktop looks like the following:
After you successfully execute the program, you should be presented with a large message box talking about an Alias called All Disk Drives and some other security related stuff. It is recommended that you read this message box. Once you have read the message box, go ahead and click the OK button. You will then be at the program's main user interface dialog. It should look just as follows:
Remove the Alias named All Disk Drives.
Though this step is not required, it is highly recommended. It is not a good idea to share all your computer's drives to the public as this would allow public access to all the files on your computer.
To remove the All Disk Drives Alias, single click the little text in the lower left green box that states All Disk Drives. After you have clicked it, it should be selected. When it's selected, as you should be able to see by the background colour of it, click the Remove button. The Remove button is located directly above the All Disk Drives Alias. For now, do not worry about what an alias is as this will be explained later. If the Remove button is greyed out (not clickable), it means that there aren't any aliases currently selected.
After you press the Remove button, you will be presented with a message box asking if you are sure. On this message box, click Yes.
There should now be no aliases, as shown below.
Learn what an alias is.
Why is this here and not earlier?, For I figured this would be best learned right before it becomes required to know, in the context of its very existence.
Note that it is essential for you to know the information from the section in this tutorial on Files, Folders, and Paths (particularly, paths) for you to be able to fully understand what an alias is.
An alias is a virtual (not fully real) folder on the root of a Web site's domain... at least as far as the Web based path is concerned. It acts like a folder on the base (root) of the site and when accessed appears to contain files and folders that are located in an actual folder on the computer running the server software. The alias does NOT need to be named as the actual folder that it represents is named. If you're confused, some examples should help to clear it up...
A file named My_Dog.jpg (a picture) located in an alias named View_My_Pictures on the site, www.networkactiv.com:
A file named Something.html (a Web page) located in a folder named MySomethings located in an alias named MyStuff on the site, www.yahoo.com:
Basically, it goes like this:
Remember, an alias represents a real folder, but doesn't need to have the same name. Say you had an alias named My Somethings on your Web site named MyPlace. Say that you had that alias (My Somethings) pointing to the folder on your computer, C:\My Documents. In this case, if you were to access from the Web, http://MyPlace/My Somethings/Some Picture.jpg, it would actually be accessing C:\My Documents\Some Picture.jpg. Do you get it? It's like a simple to type shortcut that people on the Web use to access some folder on your computer. Basically, everything that comes after the alias name in the Web browser will be added to the path of the actual folder being accessed. One cool thing is that you can change the location and/or name of the actual folder on your computer, and it can remain the same for the folks on the Web to access that folder, so long as you update the alias-to-folder association in the server program to point to the new folder location/name.
There is also something called a root alias. A root alias is a blank alias. That's right, it has no name. It actually acts just like a normal (named) alias, with the only significant difference being that when you access a folder name on the root site, that is, after the domain name, it's really accessing that location inside of the folder pointed to by the root alias. For example, if you had a root alias pointing to the folder, C:\My Pictures on your site, MySite, and you accessed http://MySite/Some Old Pictures/Someone.jpg, it would actually be accessing C:\My Pictures\Some Old Pictures\Someone.jpg. In this case, everything after the domain is added to the folder path pointed to by the root alias. There is one interesting thing to note though... even when you have a root alias, you can still have named aliases! What happens in this case is that when you access a folder directly on the root of the site from the Web, the server checks if there is a named alias named that, and if so, bases what's being accessed on that, but if not, bases what's being accessed on the root alias.
In Web servers, you can have as many aliases as you like. You can even have multiple aliases pointing to the same folder, but you can only have one root alias.
Add one or more folders that you will be sharing/hosting.
What you will add here depends on whether you have created a folder for your Web site files as specified in Creating a location for your Web site files. If you did create a folder, then you will need to follow the first method, but if not then you will need to follow the second method.
For the first method... that in which you HAVE created a folder for your Web site files, you will need to click the Add folder button, find and choose the folder that you created, and then when it asks for the Alias path, enter nothing (leave the entry field empty). See below for an illustration.
Then displayed is the Browse for Folder dialog as follows:
After you have expanded the necessary drives and folders and found the folder that you previously created, select it and press the OK button.
When you are asked for the Alias path, leave it blank, as shown below.
You have successfully made your Web site files folder the root of your site.
It's time now to explain the other method... that in which you did NOT create a folder for your Web site files because you will simply be sharing one or more folders (and their contents) that you already have. This is very similar to the first method, the differences being that you (a) Choose the folder that you want to share (a folder that you already had), (b) Enter a descriptive yet brief alias for each folder that you add, and (c) Repeat the steps, once for each additional folder that you will be sharing. An example of how this should look when you enter an alias and after you've completed one round of the process is as follows:
View the site locally in your Web browser.
This is when you get to see what the site will look like with the current configuration... granted it works. There shouldn't be a need for you to open your Web browser as this should be done for you so long as that works right on your system. To do this, right-click in the small grey area just below the folder/alias list on the program's main user interface dialog. This will bring up a small menu. On this menu, choose (click) the View in Web browser option. When you do this, it will state that the server is not currently listening and ask if you want it to start it for you, choose Yes. If the Windows Firewall is enabled on your system, it will probably pop up a message asking what you want to do, on this dialog (should it appear) choose the Unblock button. If the browser window opened before you were able to choose the Unblock button, you may need to click the browser's refresh button (or press your keyboard's F5 key while in the browser). The steps are illustrated below.
First, right-click in the grey just below the folder/alias list on the program's main user interface dialog and click the View in Web browser option:
When you are presented with the dialog stating that the server is not yet listening and asking whether you wish for it to become started, choose Yes:
Should you be presented with a Windows Security Alert dialog about NetworkActiv Web Server, choose the Unblock option:
If at this point the page did NOT load in the browser, even after having tried pressing the browser's refresh button a few times, check into your firewall software and make sure that it's not blocking NetworkActiv Web Server from listening (accepting connections). If you get an error from NetworkActiv Web Server stating that it can't listen, try changing the port number (that thing at the lower-right of the main dialog that has the number 80 in it) to a number larger than 1024 (but smaller than 65536) and then try again.
Check out all the information provided in the request list (the big green area at the top of the program's main user interface). Try scrolling to the right to see all different the columns of information provided:
A note on running the server software.
It is a good idea for you to occasionally check for a new version. This is true of all server software, and well, pretty much any program that uses the Internet, such as a Web browser. This is because there is always a potential for security problems to be found in software, and staying up to date minimizes the potential of an actual security problem. You can check for a newer version of NetworkActiv Web Server in the about of the program via the button entitled Check for a newer version. See below for an illustration of how to do this.
First, click the About button on the program's main user interface dialog:
Then, click the Check for a newer version button on the About NetworkActiv Web Server 3.5 dialog:
As before mentioned, how difficult this is and whether or not it's possible depends on your situation. There are quite a few things to cover here but not all apply to all readers. It is essential at this point that you were able to successfully view your Web site or the files you are sharing, locally in your Web browser.
First, we need to learn about ports and how they apply here.
A port is an address clearifier, like a door number in an appartment complex that allows someone when accessing a computer on the Internet or on a network to address a particular running server program. Each computer has an IP address (remember?) and any computer can have running more than one server program, even different kinds for completely different purposes. It is therefore necessary to have a way of differentiating between these different server programs. As implied, it's probably a good idea to think of a port number as being the same as the door number on the address of a letter going to an appartment building; Even though there's an address number (IP address) on the letter, you still need the door number (the port) for the message or request to get to the desired destination. In fact, in networking terms this letter is called a packet. All network and Internet communications are in the form of what are called packets, but we willn't go into any detail about that in this tutorial as it's not necessary for the purposes herein.
Now, you may (or may not) be wondering, How do I put a port number on a request?. This is very important to know here. Do you remember about how when you access a file with a standard looking http://Whatever/something.extension how the Whatever is really where you put the IP address or the domain name? Well, this just so happens to be where you put the port number too! Normally you don't see it because it's assumed to be 80 for Web servers, but when it's not 80, you need to specify it as part of the IP address or domain name. This is done by adding a colon ( : ) to the IP address or domain name and putting the port number. It's that simple. For example, if you had the domain Whatever and you had the server software configured to be listening on port 7000, you would access http://Whatever:7000/ to get to the Web site. Note that there are no spaces between the domain, the colon, the port number, and the slash. This is important as if you put spaces it will probably not work. If however, you were accessing the server by an IP address, say 184.108.40.206 on port 7000, you would access http://220.127.116.11:7000/ to access the site. It's the same thing as with a domain name, but can sometimes look confusing as there are now five numbers instead of four. Remember, when there isn't a port number on the request, it automatically uses port 80. One quick note: Do NOT use any commas in the port number, even if it is greater than 999.
You may have the question, Why not just use port 80 then since it's easier to use as you don't need to put it on the address?. Port 80 is a good choice, and is the recommended choice, but... Some ISPs don't allow incoming connections on port 80. There are actually quite a few ISPs like this, particularly cable Internet service providers. For this reason, it is necessary that you know how to use a different port number. If port 80 incoming is blocked by your ISP, you will need to use another port number.
A port number can not just be any number, it has to be in a certain range. Though it can technically be anything from 1 to 65535, it is better (and more likely to actuall work) if you choose a number between 1026 and 65535. Note that it really doesn't matter where in this (later) range you are. They will all perform the same. It's usually a good idea to use something easy to remember and to type, such as 7000, 8000, 8080, and the like. 2000, 5000, 5150, and the like will all work just as well. It's important to remember though if you try one and it doesn't work, at least try a couple of others.
Below is shown the location (at the lower-right) of NetworkActiv Web Server's main user interface dialog where the port field is so that you know what to change when trying different port numbers. Note that this number can only be changed when the server is not listening (started). You can tell if it's started by seeing which of the Start and Stop buttons are available. The opposite of the available button is the state of the server, meaning that if you can only see the Stop button, the server is currently started, and vise versa.
Gateways, Routers, NAT, port forwarding, and LAN versus Internet IP addresses.
You MAY skip this section if you know that you don't have/aren't using a router/gateway, such as if you connect to the Internet via a dial-up modem that's located inside your computer, and that's the only computer using that Internet connection. Most DSL and Cable users do use a router/gateway, whether or not they know it.
The title may make it sound like more than one topic, but it's all directly related (one process) for the purposes herein. The main topic here is port forwarding, but understanding the basic concepts of Routers, Gateways, and LAN versus Internet IP addresses is necessary for this. Internet and LAN IP addresses are the same kind of thing, so it's not about learning what an IP address is (as was explained earlier in this tutorial), but about understanding how they interact (relate) when you have a Gateway Router (most Cable/DSL modems have built-in gateway routers, many have it enabled as by your ISP's default settings in the device).
I know it may seem rather complex already, but try to keep it simple... all you need to remember at this point is that because a home router has a gateway in it, it can provide a way for computers on your LAN to access the Internet, even though your LAN and the Internet are different networks. You don't even need to remember that it has a gateway in it, just remember what that box we call a router (whether on its own or in a DSL/Cable modem) does.
The computers on the local area network (LAN) each have an IP address, but as you may know already, this is not the IP address of that computer on the Internet. Even the gateway has a LAN IP address as it too is a computer on the LAN. The difference with the gateway is that it's connected to not just the LAN, but also the Internet. This means the gateway is connected to two different networks (as was implied previously). Since the gateway is connected to the Internet and connected to the LAN, it has to have two IP addresses... A LAN IP address and an Internet IP address. It's like a house with two front yards and no back yard... it might just have a different address on each street because each street (network) has its own set of addresses! (ps. I know in the real world the addresses are usually by Zip Code, but we'll ignore that for this analogy, unless of course, each street is in a different Zip Code!)
What if a computer on the Internet sends a request to your Internet IP address (that of the Internet side of the gateway router) because it wants to request a file on a Web server running on one of the computers on your LAN? How will this request get to the computer when the only thing really connected to the Internet is your gateway router? This is where what we call Port Forwarding comes into play. Port forwarding is the name given to a feature of the gateway that allows it to be configured so that when a request comes in from the Internet on a certain port number, the gateway forwards that request to the appropriate computer on your LAN. It's a simple mapping that basically says If you get a request on port X from the Internet side, forward that request to the computer on the LAN with IP address x.x.x.x. Yes, this does apply even if you only have one computer on your LAN. Gateway routers by default do not forward anything, no ports. This is done for security as what if you had a computer running on your LAN with a server (like a Web server) that allowed access to personal files to the other computers on your LAN, you wouldn't want the router to automatically forward that port would you? In fact, Windows usually has many internal servers (usually called network services) that allow access to things like the files on your computer... for other computers on your network. This is why gateway routers willn't forward ports automatically, even if there IS only one computer on the network. Chances are that your gateway router (even if it's in your Cable/DSL modem) has the feature of port forwarding as this is a standard feature. To allow requests from the Internet side to reach the computer running the Web server software, you need to configure your gateway router to forward requests for your chosen port number to the LAN IP address of that computer (with the server software). Many times there is a feature called DMZ (DeMilitarized-Zone) that makes all port numbers go to a given computer on the LAN, it is NOT recommended that you use this (DMZ) as it can make Windows network services and other things available to the computers on the Internet. You should only use the specified port number forwarding feature, that in which you specify the port number to forward. To access your router/modem's configuration, you will usually type the router/modem's LAN IP address into your Web browser's address bar. What's your router/modem's LAN IP address?, well could try to guess it by trying the common numbers, such as 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.254, 192.168.0.254, 192.168.1.100, 192.168.0.100, 192.168.2.1, or you could consult your router/modem's configuration manual, or you can visit the router/modem manufacturer's Web site, or you can go to www.portforward.com. www.portforward.com provides not only information about how to access your router's configuration, but also provides the details for many different brands of routers and modems on how to configure the port forwarding needed to run a server (and therefore host a Web site) from a computer on your LAN (and as I said before, even if you only have one computer). You may need to know your computer's (the computer running the server software)'s LAN IP address to know what to set in the router/modem as the destination LAN IP address. This is probably covered on www.portforward.com and will be covered here in the next paragraph. Note that your router/modem will most definitely have a password, and possibly a username as well. You can find this out in the same place you find your router/modem type's default LAN IP address, or you can try these pages:
To find out what your current LAN IP address is, open NetworkActiv Web Server (if it's not already running), make it not listening (make sure the Start button is visible), click to drop-down the field named Listening interface (optional): and located at the lower-right of the program's main user interface (directly to the left of the port field). In this dropped-down box, there will be two IP addresses... 127.0.0.1 and your LAN IP address. Do NOT actually choose anything in this box, make sure when you close it you leave it on nothing (blank). We are simply interested in finding out this IP address. An illustration is shown below.
In the illustration above, the computer running the server software has the LAN IP address, 192.168.0.1; Chances are that your LAN IP address is different and so you will need to do this on YOUR computer. If your computer is on more than one network when you do this, there will actually be more than one listed IP address (under the 127.0.0.1). Should this be the case, you should use the one that's on the network with the router/modem that connects you to the Internet. This will probably be the one that looks the most like your router/modem's IP address (but will NOT be the same). If you are not sure which one that is, you could always try each.
How does one now access your server from across the Internet?
At this point, it should be possible for others to access your server and therefore your Web site from across the Internet. It is highly recommended that you have someone whom you can call on the phone or chat to online who can try accessing your server. The chatting online method is of course prefered for you can send them the URL (Universal Resource Locator) of your Web site, such as http://YourInternetIPAddress/, and they can then simply either click on the URL (in their chat program) or can copy and paste it to their Web browser's address bar. I will explain in a moment how to find out your Internet IP address, so don't worry if you don't yet know it. If you are not able to get another person to help you with this, there is another way, see below.
When you don't have someone who will try to connect to your server from another location over the Internet, you can instead visit one of the following proxy/anonymizing Web sites to access your site yourself, but still from another location. All the below listed sites provide a free version of the service (at least when this part was written (or updated)). If you find one that doesn't, try the others. This should be an easy, no-hassle task. (if you don't yet know your Internet IP address, you will need to see a few paragraphs down and then come back to this part)
A word of advice in case you get interested in the idea of anonymous surfing... You don't have to buy one of these services, you can use a no-hassle freeware program called Torpark. Torpark uses the Tor network... The Tor network is a free, highly encrypted peer-to-peer network (it's NOT a file sharing network, it's an anonymous surfing (and other stuff) network).
There are basically three different ways that can be configured (though only the last two are really something that's configured) to allow access to your site to others via a URL of some sort...
It's time now to talk about how to determine your Internet IP address.
For most of you, determining your current Internet IP address is very easy and quick, it only requires browsing to a simple Web site and seeing what it says there. Some Web sites provide this functionality... The server simply looks at what IP address was used to access the site and displays this on the site for you. It's kindof like having a name tag (your Internet IP address) on your shirt but you can't read and going up to someone and having them tell you what it says. For some of you with semi-evil (though not fully evil) ISPs, it will be a little more difficult. Some ISPs put your outgoing port 80 traffic through a proxy server. A proxy server is like an Internet connection sharing PC, like a gateway. They problem is that, well, you don't have access to that gateway and so you can't have it forward ports. In these cases, the ISP makes a whole bunch of people have the same IP address as far as the Web sites can see, but it's not your actual IP address, it's that of the proxy server. In this case, you will need to access one of these sites that tell you your IP address, but that don't have their server running on port 80. This usually works for getting around your ISP's proxy server. See below for a list of Web sites who provide this.
Notice: NetworkActiv Web Server version 4.0 and higher users should be able to find their Internet IP address (based on port 80) in the server program itself, at the bottom of the Help dialog.
Please don't keep coming back to this tutorial just to click one of these links, this tutorial page uses a lot of bandwidth so please find which one works for you and bookmark its page for finding out your Internet IP address. That would be much easier and faster for you anyway.
Note that if you know someone else running NetworkActiv Web Server (greater than version 1.0), you can access their site plus /csis/. For instance, if your friend were running NetworkActiv Web Server (newer than version 1.0) and the site was http://MyFriendsInternetIPAddress/, you could access http://MyFriendsInternetIPAddress/csis/. CSIS stands for Client-Side-Information-System and provides the basic feature that the sites listed above provide and more, but if your friend had it running on another port (other than 80), this would be useful for if your ISP put your outgoing port 80 traffic through a proxy server.
Concluding this step:
You should now have all the information that you need for allowing others to access your Web site from across the Internet.
Search engines are those things that let you find Web pages and sites. There are three different types of search engines (payed-submission-databased, free-submission-databased, and crawler-databased).
There are many sites on the Web saying that they'll increase you search engine exposure, get your site onto the major search engines, and stuff like that. Most of these are BS and will not do you anything other than take your money. The fact is that the big search engines are crawler based and if your site is linked to by just one page that the search engine already knows about, it will get into the database. The search engines base the search rank (where pages come up in the list when something is searched for) on (a) How closely what was typed matched something on your page, and (b) How many pages on the Web (particularly, how many completely different sites) link to your pages. There are many ways of trying to cheat the system, some of these improve your search engine ranking services try to use these tactics, but as search engines keep getting smarter it does less good and actually hurts your pages' rankings. Simply put, if people like your site, it will come up easily on search engines because people will link to you on their sites, so if your goal is to get visitors, try to provide something cool and/or useful to others.
One way to get your pages seen by the crawlers is to post a link to your NetworkActiv Web Server (NAWS) powered Web site onto the Powered by NAWS forum, located at http://www.networkactiv.com/Forum/.
Not all Web pages look the same on all Web browsers, and not all Web pages work correctly (if at all) on all Web browsers. If your Web site is simple, then it is more likely to not have problems with Web browser compatibility, but you never know, just a small problem with the HTML code or something else could make something on the page, or the whole page, not work in a particular browser. For this reason, it is a good idea to try your Web pages in at least the two main bases of Web browsers. This covers most all Web users. See below for details pertaining to each. Note that you only need to test your site on one browser of each base because they use the same HTML and other code interpretation systems.
NetworkActiv Web Server:
The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page for NetworkActiv Web Server provides answers to the most commonly asked questions about NetworkActiv Web Server, and occasional throughout provides links to some small tutorials related to particular topics. You can view this page at:
Through the NetworkActiv Software discussion forums (particularly the Web Server section), you can get in contact with other users of NetworkActiv Web Server and can also post links to your NetworkActiv Web Server (NAWS) powered Web sites to the Powered by NAWS forum to let others know about your new site. Please feel free to post new messages. You can find the forums at:
Miscellaneous Web site, Web page, Web, Internet, and other questions:
Many times you can find answers to questions about most anything on the Web. It's good to use a good search engine such as Google, as this provides better search results. It's a good idea to know how to search on a search engine too as this usually makes a world of a difference on what comes up. For Google, visit How to search on Google for information on how to search effectively. If you use another search engine, check the main page to see if you can find a link to information on how to search effectively, such as links titled Search tips or Search options, or even try the Advanced search that many provide. The Advanced search usually makes it easier to do advanced searches. This may sound obvious, but in reality you can usually do advanced searches from the normal search box as well if you know how.
A great deal of information has been covered in this tutorial. I believe I have covered here all the basic topics and concepts, and if you read it all, honestly trying to understand it all, you should be on very good grounds for having just entered the world of Web site creation and hosting. Even if you had some experience already, it should have provided you with something new or at least cleared some stuff up. If you have any suggestions or comments, or found something not explained well enough or not covered, you can let me know by e-mail through firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you found this tutorial to be useful, please let others know about it and/or of NetworkActiv Software. If you have questions, feel free to post them in a NetworkActiv discussion forum (found here).
Thank you for reading this tutorial. I hope you enjoy and continue to enjoy having your own Web site. This tutorial has been made over a week's time and as I write this very text is the longest in-human-language text that I've so far written.