Do I need a web server for a small intranet

I want to put up a small Intranet (5 users) here in the office. Question is, do I need an web server for that? I have Microsoft’s personal web server, because it’s free, but that just seems to complicate things. Can’t I just create a shortcut on the IE shortcut bar to point to the location on the server of the documents I want to post? This intranet won’t be interactive, just displaying documents for reference.

If I do need a web server is there one available other than Microsoft’s that is free and simple?

No, you do not need a webserver. You can point the shortcut to any shared file you like.


i would say you don’t need a web server, it just depends what you want to do with it. as far as simple and free web servers, check out or

If you have those locations mapped with drive letters you can certainly do that. IE will behave as it does when you’re exploring your local hard drive. IMO it’s become a clumsy tool for straight disk browsing as it kleeps opening new windows when you click a folder but a few strategic html indexes can make things easy to navigate.

It depends if you ever think your intranet will expand much. If it does you’ll find a fileserver or mapped drive very limiting while a proper server based intranet will give you much greater room for expansion.

You could simply put a shortcut to the main file on everyone’s desktop. If they click on it it will load IE automatically, and that file can have links to the others.

If you use a web server you’ll be able to track usage, set protection, add more complex pages, etc. And sure, you can use Personal Web Server. It’s actually quite powerful.

If it’s just a set of documents or simple text/picture pages, grab the 486 that’s been lying around the office, put Linux on it, set up Apache, and let it hum quietly in a closet.

More details please, lovelee.

What is Apache and is it also free-ware? Is it IP based? How far could that take you?

Duck Hook,

I don’t know as much about this stuff as the others here do, but I found this without too much trouble.

From a quick glance, it looks like a freeware http server.

lovelee, it looks like it can run on a WinBox, no?

Apache is the most widely used and likely the most powerful web server software on the Internet. It’s free and open source (GNU GPL). You can run it on Windows or any type of Unix.

Hey, you stealin’ my thunder? =)

Apache also comes with most Linux distributions. If you’re just starting out, I’d highly recommend Red Hat since it comes with thirty days free telephone support (if you buy the box version, which will run you about fifty bucks… but you get books too).

I suppose you could run it under Windows, but you’d be taking it out of its native environment… and one of the strong points of Linux is that it’ll run things quite nicely on hardware that Windows can no longer take advantage of.

You can find a roundup of web servers and other servers, freeware and otherwise, here:

Apache is certainly one of the most popular. Another freeware server you might look at for a small intranet on windows is Xitami. Very easy to set up, small footprint, seems pretty stable, though I’ll admit I’ve never really stressed the thing.

Here’s my take on the issue as asked.

I run three NT servers with over 40 users. Seven of which are located in California (I am in Colorado). #1 Server consists of our accounting software (network based) #2 is our power machine – Terminal Server with 36 GIGs of space and is the main file server #3 is our mail server.

There is a ton of document sharing but the main shared “drive” (documents, everything from Word to Excel) is set up in such a way that anyone working within the company should be able to find any document within a construction job with little problem.

The seven users in Calif. are on a peer to peer network connecting to our servers for network based tasks. The steel division (which is not connected to my servers) are four computers connected via a peer to peer network.

Drive sharing on a peer to peer is easy although the security is lax. But for a small network is a completely doable situation.

Purchasing a “web server” for displaying documents is cost ineffective. If you put protocols on how and where documents are stored on shared drives, then you eliminate about $3000 - $4000 in a server and an operating system.

Now, with all that said, you can still use Personal Web Server for your documents but those documents must be created with an HTML program. Office 2000 can easily create Word and Excel documents into HTML format for you but if you ever publish them to the web for whatever reason it will leave a bunch of crap behind.

BTW, I can access any HTML file created on my main machine with my secondary machine…all created with an HTML program with Personal Web Server located on one machine.

I recommend, for cost and ease, share drives, set up protocols for file structure at this time. If you are not getting into sharing a program (Like a network based accounting software or massive file sharing) then I suggest your best bet is scrap the idea of a separate server.

Other things I would suggest a server (can be combined or separate from another):

10 or more users
email server (stand alone)
mass file server (1 gig or more of data that is regularly accessed)
misc communications server like a fax server (can be included with your email server but depends on the traffic)

As a network consultant those are the things I personally look for. If you are simply sharing a few files, using a peer to peer network should be sufficient enough for you at this time and the most cost effective using the tools you have at your disposal now.

I did forget to add.

You should have a back up plan. Very, very important. That is one nice thing about having a central location to have all important documents located, aka a server.

However, there are programs out there that will back up shared drives so I suggest having one of your PCs (if you go with the peer to peer idea) back up all document folders on all the shared drives every night. (our schedule runs at 11:59 since we have people that work weird hours)

Take those tapes off site every day and rotate your tapes through a minimum two week cycle.

We have all three servers backed up on 30 tapes, a full back up every night.

YIKES, techchick68! I think the original post is regarding a small office intranet for sharing html files.

The term “web server” would seem to apply to any box serving html files, regardless of the OS, right? So, my Netware file server could also be my somewhat quirky intra-office “web server,” yes?

My question directed to those with related experience: On such a small scale, is the Linux/Apache solution really superior to sharing html files on an existing Netware or NT box? My old 486’s rarely “hum quietly in the closet” for any length of time. :wink: It sounds like I’d have yet another box in the office full of potential headaches.

Your NetWare server might just be all that you need. NetWare 5.0 and above ships with a copy of Netscape FastTrack Web Server. If you’re running 5 or 5.1, I’d be happy to walk you through the setup of that via e-mail, if you’d like (I’d love to do SOMETHING with this friggin’ CNE… :slight_smile: ).

From my experience: as long as everything installs OK, and is working when you start, then it should carry on with a small task like serving a few (hundred or so) pages a day until hardware failure strikes.

The last Linux server I set up doing any real work (logons, Samba shares, Web server) kept going for 3 years, was only taken down because they’d got a new one and was a P120.

Much better than paying loadsa money for a big machine and an OS that’ll crash every month or so… :slight_smile: