How to Host a Web Site from Your Computer

In the following article I am going to show you how to host a web site from your own computer. Why would you want to do this you might ask? Well for one, it’s free. It’s also great for hosting small web sites or sharing large files with friends. However, if you are planning on running a site with high traffic I would not recommend this. Just follow these simple steps and you will have your own web server up and running in no time.

Step 1: Go to http://www.snapfiles.com/get/hfs.html and download HFS (Http File Server).

Step 2: Double-click the hfs.exe file that you downloaded. If you have Windows Firewall enabled you will be prompted with a security warning. Click “Unblock” to allow HFS to pass through the firewall.

Step 3: This is the tricky part. The default port that HFS uses is port 80. If your ISP blocks port 80 then you will need to change it to something else. To change it you must turn HFS off. You can do so by clicking the “On” button in the upper left corner. When you are done, turn it back on. If you are behind a router or firewall then you will have to set up port forwarding. If you need help with this go to http://www.portforward.com/. Here you can choose the type of router you have and then choose the program you want to set up port forwarding for such as Http File Server-HFS. It will walk you through the exact steps to set up forwarding.

Step 4: Now you can test your settings to see if they work. Go to the menu and click “Self Test”. If it is successful then your settings are correct. You should now be able to point your web browser to your IP address to see files or pages you are sharing.

Step 5: Now I’m going to tell you how to assign a domain name for your web site. Since you don’t have a DNS server running on your computer, you will need to get DNS service from somewhere else. To do this, we are going to use a service called DynDNS. DynDNS offers a variety of subdomain names to use for free for your website. Go to https://www.dyndns.com/account/entrance/ to create a DynDNS account. Login with the account you have created and click on the services button. If you have a dynamic IP address that changes, click on “Dynamic DNS” and then “Add Dynamic DNS”. Choose a subdomain and domain name. Then add the host. Now you have a domain name that you can use and give out instead of your IP address. If you would like to use your own domain name, DynDNS offers a custom DNS service for this as well for a yearly fee.

Step 6: Now go to https://www.dyndns.com/support/clients/ to download the DynDNS Updater. This is to automatically update your Dynamic DNS account in case your external IP address ever changes.

Now you can host a web site from your computer. If you want to change the default page that comes up when you browse to your site, right click on the little icon that looks like a house in the Virtual File System. Click “Default file mask…” and type the name of the file that you want to be served when someone browses to your website such as index.html. If you would like HFS to start automatically when you log into Windows, put a shortcut to it under Start – Programs – Startup. Also be sure to save your Virtual File System settings so HFS will remember the files you are hosting next time you open it up. If you have any more questions check out HFS’s Frequently Asked Questions.




76 Comments

  • Pranav

    Reply Reply December 30, 2006

    Hi there.. this guide is simple yet extremely good!! Please let me know anything more about hosting from home if possible.. I want to host a forum also.. please can you tell me how to do that? Also, how to make a professional File/Image Hosting websites like rapidshare.com and imageshack.us ? please do let me know.. mail me at pranav_s_2000@yahoo.com

  • Casey

    Reply Reply January 3, 2007

    Hello Pranav,

    Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your feedback. I have never attempted to host a forum or image hosting service from my computer but I’m sure it is possible. Let me see if I can find any articles on this and if so, I will email them to you. Just remember if you plan on having a lot of traffic you should look into using a professional hosting service because this could overwhelm your computer and bandwidth. This would especially be true with a forum or image hosting service.

  • stealer_hunter

    Reply Reply February 1, 2007
    • cameron

      Reply Reply September 30, 2011

      btw they did not steal his content. To be honest the one there is more clear and legibil writing.

  • Hi Casey,
    lovely website!
    What risk is associated withopening up my computer to the access required to run a website?

  • Casey

    Reply Reply March 26, 2007

    Hello Hans,
    Thanks for your comment. Rejetto, the maker of HFS, has a writeup about this on his wiki. http://www.rejetto.com/wiki/index.php?title=HFS:_Secure_your_server I hope this answers your question.

  • Hans Jürgen Hoffmann

    Reply Reply March 28, 2007

    Thanks – my website is up and running :-)

  • Mr.AyMaN

    Reply Reply May 16, 2007

    Hi Casey,

    I’am AyMaN From Egypt

    Thnx For these lovely website

    And Lovely articles :)

  • Crampon

    Reply Reply June 26, 2007

    Hi Casey

    Thanks for your help. Your instructions were really easy to follow and have made my life a whole lot easier.

  • pork

    Reply Reply July 27, 2007

    Hello Casey
    great article. Thier are a few that exsplain this and you sead it best. Thanks for the help and good luck to all

  • Ryan

    Reply Reply July 28, 2007

    Hey Casey

    Is it possible to set this up when connect to a LAN?

  • Casey

    Reply Reply July 28, 2007

    Hey Ryan,

    Yes, as long as your router or ISP is not blocking the port you are trying to use.

  • Ryan

    Reply Reply July 28, 2007

    How do you find out what kind of router or what port to use?

  • Casey

    Reply Reply July 28, 2007

    Hey Ryan

    You have to log into your router to open ports. This means you will need to know your router’s address and its username and password. Your router’s address is usually the same as your default gateway address. Follow the instructions in Step 3 to help you configure your ports. Hope this helps.

  • dpro

    Reply Reply August 2, 2007

    great! many thanks how do I install apache, php and mysql?

  • dpro

    Reply Reply August 2, 2007

    I found this one for web developers using WAMMP
    WAMP-based [Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP]

    http://www.devside.net/

  • Lloyd

    Reply Reply August 6, 2007

    Hi Casey, I’m very glad I stumbled across your site this morning…excellent stuff!

    Among a few other contributions I made this morning, here’s a little clarification about your comment above: “If you would like HFS to start automatically when Windows starts put a shortcut to it under Start – Programs – Startup.”

    This is only 90% true as apps located in any Start + Programs + Startup only get launched when that user logs into Windows. To have an app start up when the machine starts, you need to either run it as a service or add a reference to the app into the registry for auto-startup. There are apps such as that found in Microsoft’s Resource Kits that allows you to run any desktop app as a service, too; most aren’t free, but some are.

  • Casey

    Reply Reply August 6, 2007

    Hey Lloyd,

    Very good point. I went ahead and corrected my wording based on your comment. Thanks!

  • Jason

    Reply Reply August 12, 2007

    Hello Casey,

    Thank you for the information! I don’t know too much about this yet, but here is my question: I currently have a dynamic IP, how big of a problem is this with running a website like this? The website is for a store, and should ideally be up 24/7, is there a script or something that can check and update the ip so that i dont have to manually do it and the webpage will be kept up todate?

    Also I dont think we would receive high traffic, but any thoughts on how much traffic is too much for this kind of set up? I can see what kind of traffic we have had based on logs on our current site, and see if this would work for us.

    Thank you very much! – Jason

  • Jason

    Reply Reply August 12, 2007

    Sorry! I didn’t read the whole post and see that my first question is already completley answered!

    Thank you!

    However, if you still wanted to address my question about traffic I would appreciate it :)

    Thank you – Jason

  • Casey

    Reply Reply August 12, 2007

    Hi Jason,

    I think the amount of traffic that your site will support depends on lots of different factors. For one, it depends on how much content is on the site itself. Another factor is the speed of your internet connection and the type of computer you are using to run it. If you are trying to run a business website, I definitely would not recommend using this. However, if it is just a personal website, something that you will be sharing with friends and family, I believe you will be ok. Hope this helps.

  • Musicaddict

    Reply Reply September 1, 2007

    Casey-great article,very cool info! I was able to easily setup as you describe. Question if I may? What about running an application? For example, if I wanted to run a media player to host an “internet radio station”, but for max of 3 connections (basically just for some friends). Would that be possible? I know of sites/utilities to do that specifically, but for a more “wide” audience and I would like to keep in this simple/low bandwidth vein.

    Thanks very much!

  • Shad

    Reply Reply September 10, 2007

    Nice!!! With this tutorial I was able to easily set up a server to host a website on. Thank you so much!!!!

  • Marc Caballero

    Reply Reply September 28, 2007

    I love you!!! Casey, you rock!

  • Hoon

    Reply Reply February 17, 2009

    Hi

    I was unable to download the HFS executable file.

    http://www.rejetto.com/hfs/?f=dl

    Says that Error 404: File Not Found.

    Please help! Thanks :D

    Regards
    Hoon

    • Casey

      Reply Reply February 17, 2009

      Hi Hoon,

      The download page on their site seems to be broken so I updated the link to point to another site where you can get it. Enjoy!

      -Casey

      • Stepie

        Reply Reply December 14, 2010

        I was unable to download the file too, but my anti-virus blocked it, it sais a varaint of a web server or somthing like that. I’m using ESET Nod32 Anti-virus, could you maby emial me…

  • Hoon

    Reply Reply February 18, 2009

    Hi Casey

    Thanks for your speedy reply, I have clicked on the site, sure looks alright, but my company site blocked it!

    The message was

    Access Denied (policy_denied)
    This website is blocked by Company’s content filtering policy. For enquiries, please contact your IT representative.

    For assistance, contact your network support team.

    Possible to send this exe file to my hotmail addy? Zipped or renamed so that it’s not filterend / blocked by hotmail?

    Thanks heaps :D

    Best regards
    Hoon

  • Jaap

    Reply Reply March 2, 2009

    thank so much, it is useful for us

  • CJ

    Reply Reply March 22, 2009

    Hi Casey,

    Now i am working on dynamic web site by asp.net with database as well. I browse through the messages above, and i found out that the first comment is looking for the same thing as i do. Could you help me on this manner? Please mail me at oldshoes81@yahoo.com. Thank you.

    • carter

      Reply Reply October 27, 2011

      hi, i have the same problém as you, so if you found a solution with HFS, please tell me, or if you found an other way to host your ASP pages, please e-mail me : k2m59@hotmail.com

  • Kyle

    Reply Reply May 14, 2009

    This will not let me host images… could someone give me a tip?

  • kevin

    Reply Reply June 21, 2009

    I got a question concerning HFS i followed the tutorial and i got it to work but i was wondering how do i secure it and also when i go to my website it goes there but after that it shows my ip address and the port number which i dont want it to show but i went to my no-ip.org account domain name which is kickasskevinnader.no-ip.org and if i set it to forward my domain name to my ip address then it goes straight to my router not my website or port 8000 i have to set it to redirect to my ip and if i do that it will show my ip instead of my url. please help me. But your tutorial helps a lot thanks.

  • Harsh

    Reply Reply July 5, 2009

    hi there,
    very nice info, i just loved em and defntly gave it a try, my question is how to have joomla running on the server we just created…??
    thanx

  • Jensina

    Reply Reply August 16, 2009

    Hi Casey,

    The website for the DynDNS has changed for creating an account. It is https://www.dyndns.com/account/entrance/

    Thanks for the great info!
    Jensina

    • Casey

      Reply Reply September 16, 2009

      Thanks Jensina, I have updated it :)

  • Jensina

    Reply Reply September 17, 2009

    My absolutely free website is now up and running! Follow Casey’s guidance and you can really do it yourself. I would share the web address except the site is run off a server in my home and I don’t think my ISP would like a whole lot of traffic at this point, it’s just an advance linkshell website and forums for FFXIV :)

    • Casey

      Reply Reply September 18, 2009

      Awesome! I’m glad I could help out :)

  • manu

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    hi, can i use smart ftp or is necessary to use HFS? thx :)

  • Eli

    Reply Reply October 25, 2009

    Is this for servers. When i followed your instructions it was a server, not a website!

    • Casey

      Reply Reply October 26, 2009

      Eli,
      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. This program allows any computer (ie your desktop) to host a website. So, in a sense, your computer becomes a web server. Hope this helps.

  • shivraj

    Reply Reply November 1, 2009

    please help me,,,,,,,
    i am using dna-a211-1,, when ever i enter the web site name it returns me the router page and not the web site.

    help
    help
    help

  • shivraj

    Reply Reply November 1, 2009

    i had done the port-forwarding but it is not working.

  • Valentin

    Reply Reply November 26, 2009

    Hi, nice article. It works good but I’m having a problem with changing the index.html. I right click on the little house but the only options I see are:

    Add Files…
    Add Folder form disk…
    New empty folder
    Copy URL adress
    Set user pass
    Upload

    I don’t see the Default file mask… I would appreciate much the help. Thanks!

  • William

    Reply Reply January 6, 2010

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!!!
    Although i had to change my port from 80 to 1337 lmfao.
    Again, thank you. I am ever glad that this worked.
    You have just made my day. :D
    1337, leet. lol.

    • Casey

      Reply Reply January 7, 2010

      Hi William,

      You are very welcome. Glad everything is working for you.

  • peter

    Reply Reply January 27, 2010

    Its quite trmendous reading this article on how to host a wbsite.

    I have tried to build a website using Dreamweaver,please kindly throw more light on how to get a domain name and possibly more articles on webhosting.

    my email is awurumnonye@yahoo.com

    I actually need an IT mentor to guide me in my quest for ICT wisdom and knowledge acquisition.

    Thanks

  • Shivraj

    Reply Reply February 20, 2010

    hello every one..
    please .please tell me . this thing does not work with me … i can only see my web site at my home .. but when i got my friends computer it does not show any thing……

    why?????

    and i need to host a asp.net web site at my computer … is it possible?????

    please send me answers .. i really need it….

    thankx for reading…

    • riverflow

      Reply Reply June 21, 2011

      I realize this is quite late, but for anyone else with this question:
      All websites require a server. Almost all professional/business websites rent out their domain and it runs off of the domain host’s server. Since this is YOUR website using your own computer as the server, you will need your computer to be on, connected to the internet, and running HFS in order for the site to be functional.

  • Chris

    Reply Reply March 12, 2010

    Thanks for that. It works great. :-)

  • job at home

    Reply Reply April 29, 2010

    I like design of your site What is the name of template ?

  • Mayank

    Reply Reply May 31, 2010

    hi everybody!

    I wanna start a social networking website(with email and other facilities) with static ip address and a domain name using my system’s local disk.

    I want to deploy *.net (.aspx files) and SQL 2005 server.

    pls tell me this all wud cost me how much?

  • Francesco

    Reply Reply December 10, 2010

    Hello! Why do you not recommend this if i’m running a high-traffic site?

  • Dhruv Jain

    Reply Reply December 18, 2010

    when ever i enter the web site name it returns me the router page and not the web site.can someone explain me

  • router address

    Reply Reply February 14, 2011

    Really good write-up, but this wouldn’t appear to be compatible with my router ip address, any advice?

  • Alex Thomas

    Reply Reply September 19, 2011

    so how do i get a standard www. example . co.uk or .com domain using this methord? many thanks, hope this thread isntdead

  • cameron

    Reply Reply September 30, 2011

    you may also use co.cc for it and its free!

  • bappaditya

    Reply Reply February 19, 2012

    i have a website in hostgator. but they create huge problem i want to host this in my own computer . easiest way to do what?

  • bappaditya

    Reply Reply February 19, 2012

    Really good write-up, but this wouldn’t appear to be compatible with my router ip address, any advice?

    i agree on that point.
    after reading few article i decide to give up the idea
    http://celebrityphoto.in/ of hosting my website in my computer

  • virendra

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    Hi there.. this guide is simple yet extremely good!! Please let me know anything more about hosting from home if possible.. I want to host a forum also.. please can you tell me how to do that? Also, how to make a professional File/Image Hosting websites like rapidshare.com and imageshack.us ? please do let me know.. mail me at vppatel951@gmail.com

  • Haris

    Reply Reply July 5, 2012

    I found the solution to host an ASP.NET website from your computer. Following link would help you in this regard. http://blog.harisaltaf.com/?p=546

  • Orange Sheep

    Reply Reply August 2, 2012

    its esyer if you have hamachi

  • vanessa

    Reply Reply August 10, 2012

    Can you help me please. I have paid to have a website built. When it was finished I was then told I would have to pay hosting fees. This was not told to me at the beginning.
    I dont know what this is or what it does. I have emailed the person who did the site to ask what this is. He will not reply and has taken down my web site because I havent paid the hosting fees. Can he do this? Do I need a host?
    Please help.

  • Saleem Khan

    Reply Reply December 19, 2012

    Hi,
    Casey
    How are you doing today ?
    It’s problem of my PC that it doesn’t open an unencrypted page. For that I have created an self signed SSL Certificate but I am still unable to open the website.
    Please help to get rid of the problem.
    Skype me on saleem.valueforbenefit

  • more details

    Reply Reply May 7, 2013

    I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else
    experiencing issues with your site. It appears as if some
    of the written text on your posts are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too?

    This might be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Kudos

    • Jonathan

      Reply Reply May 10, 2013

      It looks like it is a problem with your browser, I am seeing everything just fine.
      If you are using IE or Safari, you might think of upgrading to Firefox or Chrome.
      You might also try hitting ctl or cmd 0 to reset your browser’s zoom to 100%
      Hope that helps!

  • Freak@15

    Reply Reply May 22, 2013

    I am only 15 and I love working with computers. I want to make my own website that is not docked on another site and that is free. I am in the process of creating my html document and if u could give me some help or a HTML instructional that would be great. Thank you.
    Joshuabates@homesc.com

  • Ayesha

    Reply Reply July 5, 2013

    that’s a great idea. I will try it but it’s very lengthy process. :p

  • Rick

    Reply Reply August 14, 2013

    I have been reading about the littany of problems associated with running an ms access project on a website. I am wondering, even hopeful, that there may be easier to run a low traffic the site from my pc??

  • jaysukh patel

    Reply Reply August 27, 2013

    Nice article with impressive help..

    Jaysukh patel recently posted List of web hosting techniques for all website hosting

  • John Kasey

    Reply Reply November 1, 2013

    Nice tutorial. I followed the steps and it worked. Thanks Casey

    John
    http://www.manualpc.com

  • google.com

    Reply Reply December 15, 2013

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your site.
    You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d
    absolutely love to write some articles for your blog in
    exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested.
    Kudos!

  • Bikes

    Reply Reply January 17, 2014

    Can this be done on an android tablet?

  • Pankaj

    Reply Reply February 11, 2014

    Thanks Casey its working, i am from New Delhi, INDIA.

    Thanks.

    :)

  • Gossip Lanka

    Reply Reply September 1, 2014

    Thank you very much, it works :D

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