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Totally free asp.net web site in just 3 weeks March 31, 2008

Posted by gcorbin in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

For the past 12 years I’ve been working as a software engineer, mostly building software for web applications. I’ve had many people over the years ask me “What is the URL for my personal site?”. Unfortunately, my response was always the same. “I don’t have a personal site”. It did make me think, how can I claim to be a decent software engineer and not have a web site of my own. So, my project over the last month was to build myself a personal web site. I started by thinking about what type of content, layout, and features I’d like to have. After I make that list, I started looking into designing a site map and flows for my features. Not too long after this did I realize that this was going to take me a bit of time. Then I discovered the Microsoft web site starter kits. I spent some time looking through the various templates until I finally found on that kind of fit what I wanted. So, I took the “Personal Site Starter Kit” as my base for my new site. I spent a few weeks modifying it to fit my needs and then added all the content. That’s it. There you have it. A fully functional completed web site in 3 weeks.

The next step was that I needed to host this site somewhere. So, the answer was to take an old desktop that I was no longer using and to install IIS and Visual Studio Express. This would be the system that would host my site. Since I only have Windows XP Professional and SQL Server Express running there, that means that the site will be limited to only 10 concurrent connections, but that’s fine its just a personal site and not a e-commerce system.

Now comes the issue of how to get it available on the Internet. The first this that I needed to do was to expose my web server outside of my firewall. There are a few ways to do this. You can move the entire server out site by placing it in the DMZ or open a port to the application that needs access through the firewall or you can do some port forwarding and filters on the firewall. I decided to just open port 80 through the firewall so that IIS can communicate with the world. This exposes the bare minimum needed, but it does have some limitations, but for my needs its fine. Another issue that we need to fix is with the DHCP server. We should only be opening port 80 to the web server. To do this, our web server is going to need to have a static IP address within the LAN. Changing this on my internal LAN is simple, the real problem here is with the external ISP. We could call them and ask to have a static IP on the WAN, but that would cost a lot extra. Fortunately, we can install a piece of freeware called No-IP that will solve this problem for us. This freeware runs as a service on the web server and keeps an eye on the servers IP address. When the ISP DNS server changes it, this software will update the domain name for our site with the new IP that our ISP assigned. Now were ready for Internet traffic.

Now comes the last piece. What name do I give this site? If I want to choose my own domain name, that will cost a bit to register it. However, there is a free solution to that also. There is a free site that allows you to create an account that will redirect all Internet traffic to your site. You get to choose the host name and you can choose from a list of domain names that they own. This site also integrates with the freeware that update the domain name for us when the ISP changes our IP.  So, for this last step, just create an account with no-ip.com and pick a host and domain name. That it!

So, you too can build a site free fully featured asp.net site in just 3 weeks.  Enjoy.

Links for this entry:

http://corbin.bounceme.net    (My personal site)

http://www.no-ip.com  (Freeware and domain account site)