Broadband Internet

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 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 or, 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.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?