- Always on connection
- Price factor
- Types of broadband
- Business broadband
- Static and Dynamic IP addresses
- Sharing broadband across multiple PCs
- Running a server on your computer
- Questions to ask the ISP
Running a server on your computer
Most broadband packages do not allow you to run server software from any computer connected to your modem, be it the Web, FTP, e-mail or other type of server. Those that do usually involve your server being assigned a static IP address. Essentially, this means that your computer's online location will be predetermined. Therefore, a static IP address is useful because it allows it to be mapped to a domain name in the DNS. So, for example, if you want to run a Web server for www.yourname.com.au from your home or office, you need to have a static IP that can be mapped to that domain name in order to make it visible on the Internet. If you haven't specifically requested an IP address from your ISP, then you will almost certainly be on a plan that dynamically assigns you an IP each time you log on with your modem.
It is possible, though, to have a domain name mapped to your computer even if you are assigned an IP address dynamically. The general name given to this technique is Dynamic DNS, or DDNS. To use DDNS, you need to use a service provider such as dynIP.org or cjb.net, which require you to install client software on your PC. The function of this software is to broadcast your PC's IP address to the DDNS server, allowing your IP address to change without your domain name seemingly disappearing from the Net.
If you run remote access software such as pcAnywhere or VNC, then a dynamic DNS service such as those mentioned may be quite useful if you want to access your desktop from the Internet.
Whenever you are accessing the Internet you are exposing your computer to potential risk. Because people don't tend to stay too long on a PC when they have dial-up connections, most don't pay that much attention to the threat. Although, what is encouraging through our experience with PC World's HelpScreen readers is that many out there are savvy when it comes to security, installing not only antivirus software but firewalls as well. Zone Alarm is the clear favourite if HelpScreen is a judge -- largely because it is free (there is a Pro version which has more features, but this incurs a cost) and very effective.
The importance of a firewall when you are connected to a broadband service cannot be stressed enough. Unlike dial-up, where a user can disconnect their Internet connection and then in an inadvertent way also secure their PC because they are offline, broadband users don't have that luxury. They are exposed to the Net's nasties continuously. So when you are not monitoring your computer, why not get software to do it for you. It is up to you whether you want to use a free Firewall or pay for one -- most of the antivirus vendors offer some sort of firewall. But whatever the case, install it. Having a broadband connection without a Firewall is an invite to security incursions.