Once again I take a week to answer questions that my readers have recently put to me, focussing this week on Tony Venton who is interested in designing and maintaining his own website.

I am planning a web site as a hobby; a family album for those of my family spread around the world to keep them up to date with photos, stories and the such like so I have acquired FrontPage 2002 for this purpose but have to upgrade from my Windows 95 (which can't run it) and a new PC is also well overdue. I am advised that I need Windows 2000 Professional for the task but I find that my Internet Service Provider does not have the necessary collection of software called Microsoft Server Extensions version 2002 which support hit counters, data collection, e-mailing, database processing and other FrontPage features (Eclipse.co.uk, my current provider have FrontPage 2000 only so some features won't work, they tell me).

What are my choices? -
a) Go ahead with my ISP taking cognisance to avoid features that don't work
b) Find another ISP having the required FrontPage Extensions version 2002
c) Develop with 2002 and then set up a "production" site on my own PC as a server rather on the ISP's server.

I am particularly seeking advice on (c) since I am a novice! -
x) Would my PC have to be online continually for effectiveness as a "site"?
y) Would a new PC running Intel Pentium 4 (2.4 GHz) and FrontPage 2002 be adequate to support my own web site?
z) Anything I should be wary of?

If I am not talking rubbish I would be grateful for any advice you can offer me.
Tony Venton, via e-mail

I think to be honest for someone who describes themselves as a novice you are looking far too deep into things if you are just looking to do a site for family members. I will however take your points one at a time so you can see my reasoning and I will attempt to guide you in the right direction.

Your first choice as you point out would be to stay with your current provider who only has FrontPage 2000 extensions which I personally I believe should be more than sufficient for anything that you would be planning to do for a family website. The obvious alternative is to look for a company using a suitable search engine such as Google (www.google.co.uk) who could offer you a hosting package with the FrontPage 2002 extensions; I think you would be surprised by quite how cost effective this option would be however I am unable to recommend such a site unfortunately as the hosting companies that I use run only FrontPage 2000 extensions and I have always found this more than sufficient.

As to hosting your website on your own PC; don’t even think about it - Ever. Such a venture is not for the faint hearted and will require you to have your PC on the Internet 24/7 via a high speed connection, you will need a static IP address and it would just cost you far much more and give you much more hassle than simply buying a ready made hosting package online. For a home user, hosting your own website on your personal PC is really not necessary or practical. Just for the sake of completeness, you don’t need Windows 2000 Professional in order to run FrontPage 2002 as it will run on Windows 98 or above.

Without trying to sound too condescending I would say that I believe you are trying to run before you can walk; try your hand at completing a couple of websites on your computer, upload them to your Eclipse web space and see where you go from there. I think the worst case scenario is that you utilise the services of a web-hosting company such as www.wiserhosting.co.uk to provide you with some of the features that Eclipse won’t give you as standard but as a home user you certainly won’t require anything greater than this.

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