I first started hosting my own site with an old, used PC I bought for about $50 a number of years ago. I tried a variety of approaches including writing everything myself using a somewhat crippled version of Cold Fusion and an Access database. Eventually I rewrote my site with PHP and a Windows version of MySql. When the PC finally died, I opted to replace it with a Mac mini which had just been released by Apple. Before I settled on purchasing the mini, I tested running my site from my iBook, which worked without any problems--I was still entertaining buying a very inexpensive PC for my website. The mini is small, quiet, uses very little energy, and quite powerful. Once setup, one can operate it as a "headless" server, either on a local network or over the internet. I've upgraded my mini to 1 gig of ram but have done little else to it. I use Chicken of the VNC to manage the mini or I simply walk to a bedroom to access it directly. Everything related to the web site/blog is run as a system process--I don't have to be logged in or have the monitor on, which saves on energy usage. OS X unlike Vista or XP can be backed up completely. I clone my entire hard drive periodically (and do other backups) with a great inexpensive piece of software, SuperDuper! I make the clones bootable which means that I can boot off of my clone drive if something should happen to the internal drive, you can't do that with XP or Vista. Since OS X comes with SSH, one can access the server securely; there are many methods documented to do this but the features in Leopard may offer even easier options.
I use WordPress for my blog, mostly straight up although I've made a few modifications (really simply ones) to accommodate how I want to present some of my photographs and poetry. It is always a work in process. I still maintain a web page but most of my energy goes into the blog. I've neglected both lately as I'm venturing into genealogy research!
is the site of the service I use to be able to present content on the internet while still having a dynamic IP address. TZO is very reasonably priced and offers quite a few options, including mail service, hosting, etc. I wouldn't be inclined to use TZO as a hosting service as I think more reasonable pricing is available elsewhere. I don't have my own domain although I could, and I may still obtain one. The domain name I wanted was already taken so I've just never pursued securing another domain name. Since I am on cable, not as fast where I am as I've read about in other parts of the country and/or world, my upstream speeds are not fantastic. US company seem loathe to match up and down speeds. Since my site/blog is read by a small number of visitors, speed hasn't been a problem. I only get spikes occasionally,rarely, Doc Searls, makes a reference to something I've written. Doc and I went to college together and I only recently became aware that Dave Searls who was a classmate was the Doc Searls of internet fame. The mini (my old mini, the new ones veritably scream) can serve about a 1000 pages per second according to some reports that I read from a lab who tested its capabilities as a web server. The upstream speed is really the concern for serving content on the internet. I've bumbled on way too long and probably haven't provided usable information. The new minis with Leopard offer even more as a web or file server.