Setting Up Windows XP as Your Test or Development Web Server

Users implement Web servers on their home systems for a variety of different reasons. In some cases, the user simply has files, such as family photos or videos, which they want to share with friends and family online. In this case, the number of users connecting to the site would probably be relatively small and infrequent, making a home Web server a more logical solution that paying for hosting space with a service provider. Other users configure home Web servers to host their public Internet Web site. Using a combination of a relatively inexpensive broadband Internet connection and a home Web server makes this possible, but many service providers explicitly forbid setting up publicly accessible servers in their terms of service. If your home Web server generates a large volume of traffic, you can definitely expect to be contacted by your service provider, who may even threaten to suspend your service. Setting up a registered Internet web site is usually better left to a hosting provider to avoid the hassles. On the technical side of things, IIS on XP Professional is limited to 10 simultaneous connections, which is not very practical for busy site.

One of the most popular reasons for setting up a home Web server is simply to learn more about how a Web server works, or as an environment for creating and testing Web pages that you’ve designed. For example, many users will create and host their own Web site on a home server while working out any design quirks that may exist. Having the site hosted on your personal Web server gives you complete flexibility for testing without the need to upload your pages to your hosting provider’s server. This also provides a great environment for testing new features that you might be planning to add to a public Web site, giving you the chance to avoid some of the errors and embarrassment associated with a “live” site that doesn’t function correctly.

Even if you don’t think you need a home Web server right now, setting one up simply for the learning experience can be fun and rewarding. Knowing how to design a Web page is one thing, but actually knowing how the system functions in the background will ultimately make you better at troubleshooting issues with your Web pages when problems arise.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.