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Virtual Hosting

Virtual Hosting

There are many definitions to Virtual Hosting and many different types of virtual hosting. In our Appies™ world, we focus on two types.  Virtual hosting can be defined as the delivery of one's data under a unique domain name or directory structure.  In practical terms, you would use virtual hosting if a) you have a customer or friend who you want to give Web space to or b) you have more than one domain from which you want to deliver different content. As a dedicated hosting customer using Appies™, you can setup fully functional virtual hosting accounts referred to as main hosting accounts or just hosting accounts.  As a customer on a shared server (other packages), you can setup virtual hosting accounts (depending on your package).  This chapter will focus on the latter.  For a detailed discussion on the server owner's feature for setting up new hosting accounts, read the How To entitled "How to setup a new hosting account".

 Awesome Feature...

The Dedicated hosting package (dedicated server) is the ultimate hosting environment built on 11 years experience in the Web hosting industry.  Owning your own Appies™ server is the best way to host up to 1000 fully featured hosting accounts, each taking less than a few minutes to setup. Contact your Appies™ salesrep today or visit http://www.appieshost.com for full details.

Should you virtually host? If you have the need to place content in a directory that can be accessed by its own domain name, or place content in a directory where another user can have write access without compromising the security of your own Website, then you should setup a virtual host. If you are thinking about using virtual hosting for customer sites, make sure you understand the difference between a main hosting account and a virtual hosting account. The main difference is a virtual hosting account has very limited access to the server and does not have its own Appies™ Web Site Manager. This means virtual hosting is not a good solution for customers who need a robust solution or for customers who like to do maintain their own site. If you have customers like these, you can either resell our hosting packages or purchase your own dedicated server running Appies™ multi-user.

 Technical Note...

Adding additional domains. If you are simply adding an additional domain to your server that points to your main html folder, follow the same steps below.  You still need to hit the "process" button in your "Manage Domains" even though you make no changes.  This is because your httpd.conf entries have to be rewritten and the server needs to reload.

Setting up a virtual host. There are many components to virtual hosting and you can use one, all, or a combination of the components to create a virtual hosting account.  These are listed below.

 Technical Note...

All virtual hosting on customer accounts is known as name based hosting.  This means the Web server binds to the domain name rather than an IP address.  For a virtual hosting account to work, the domain being used must resolve.

Step 1: Adding the domain name (required). Each virtual host is associated with its own unique domain or subdomain like yourcustomer.appieshost.com.  This domain must first be added through your Appies interface under "Domain Management" >> "Your Domains".

Step 2: Create the folder (required). Now you must create the folder in the /var/www/virtualhosts/ folder. You can use one of many different tools for this, the easiest being your Appies File Manger.  Enter "File Management" >> "File Manager", enter /var/www/virtualhosts/ in the "jump to folder or file" input box then press your enter key. Under Folder Options in the "create new folder" input box enter the name of the folder to create then click on the "process" button below.

Step 3: Specifying options (optional). If your package contains these features, you can also choose logging options for the virtual host, enable wild cards, and create custom error pages for your virtual host in the "Manage Domains" tool.  These options are detailed in the "Manage Domains" chapter.

Step 4: Specifying the domain's path (required). You need to tell the server where you want this domain to point to when someone enters the domain in a browser. To do this, go to Domain Management >> "Manage Domains". Find the domain or subdomain you have just added, and enter the path to the folder where this virtual host's content will be stored (see step 2). All virtual hosts should use the path /var/www/virtualhosts/[newfolderhere]. The "virtualhosts" folder is an alias similar to the cgi-bin that can be called from the Web browser but for security reasons resides below your base html folder.

Step 5: Specifying name servers (required). Domain name service (DNS) is not needed if you are using a subdomain (anything.[yourdomain]) since your domain already points to your IP address. However, if you are using another domain, you must make sure that this domain points to your IP address.

Domain names are registered with Registrars who hold the name server information for your domain.  You must change this name server information using your Registrar's tools at their website if an existing domain, or specify the correct name servers for this server when registering a new domain.

 Be Careful...

Many Registrars offer options to bypass using your Host providers DNS Service.  This may include their own DNS service or domain forwarding. Domain forwarding is very limiting and disables features like custom logging.  Often the Registrar has their own advertisement in the headers when they forward your domain making it difficult to be listed in any search engines.  Using your registrars DNS service can be a viable option however they are often quick to pull your domain from their servers if they get any complaints where as your host provider will most likely be more understanding.

Step 6: DNS Service (not required for subdomains). Now that we have the domain pointing to our name servers, we need to make sure the domain is entered in our name servers.  To do this, use "Domain Management" >> "DNS Service". Select your domain from the list of available domains by clicking the edit icon to the right of the domain. Your host provider's DNS Service policy will be displayed.  Read this carefully, then click continue if you agree.  Your domain will then be entered in the name server. For full information on using this tool and adding "A" or "MX" records, see the chapter on "DNS Service".

 Remember...

Registering or moving a domain is NOT instant. Although our name servers reload data every 15 minutes, registrars and the global registry often take much longer to resolve and propagate your domain. A wait of 72 hours is the standard from the time the domain is registered or modified with the registrar.

Step 7: FTP access (optional). If you wish to give a user FTP access to their own folder where their data is stored, you can do this by setting up and additional FTP account in "FTP Accounts" >> "Additional FTP Accounts". You create a username and password for them that allows them ONLY access to their folder and any folders they choose to create below.

 Technical Note...

Content in this folder is still owned by the master user so you as the host of this account have full access to the content.  Scripts are not allowed to be executed in this folder for security reasons.  If any scripts are required by your customers they need to be placed in your cgi-bin and they must be approved by you. If a virtual host has these requirements, it is often better to have them get their own Appies™ account.

Step 8: Mail setup (optional). Under "Email_Management" you will find many choices for e-mail.  Since your virtual hosting accounts do not have their own Appies™ Web Site Manager, you must setup any mail accounts for them if needed.

Step 9: Stats (optional). Your virtually hosted customers can have detailed stat reports e-mailed to them, however, they do not have Web access to these reports. Visit "Statistics" >> "Stats Options" to select the domain/subdomain of the virtual host and change the settings.

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