You are here

Part 2 - Choosing Your Environment

There are three ways to host a Counter-Strike Source server:

  • Game Server hosted
  • Partially hosted (Dedicated/shared servers)
  • Roll your own

Game Server hosted

This is the most popular method of hosting game servers. A server owner rents space on a game hosting provider's box for a monthly fee. This fee is usually based on the number of player slots available. Some game hosting providers include:

In this type of environment, the hosting provider takes care of most everything. They manage the server's operating system, firewall, and install the game files for you. You start/restart the server from a control panel and only have FTP access to upload files. Prices range from $1-$4/slot.

This is the least-expensive option and the recommended server environment for beginners. It allows beginners to focus on CS:S server and plug-in management without the headache of general server administration.

Partially hosted (Dedicated/shared servers)

This is the most structured server hosting environment. A hosting provider sets you up with a dedicated (or shared) server with an operating system pre-installed. You are given Remote Desktop or SSH access and set up everything yourself from there. Depending on your hosting provider, they may also provide Plesk or other services. Some dedicated server hosting companies include:

This is the most reliable method of running your own server. It also the most expensive. Dedicated/shared servers typically start at $100/month. I would recommend this option if you are looking for a rock-solid server environment or are unable to roll your own. The primary benefit of a hosted environment is that the hosting company has power backup, redundant internet connections, server backups, firewall, technical support, etc.

Roll your own

I consider myself an computer enthusiast along with being an IT "Professional". I'd rather learn the technology (and have fun figuring it out) than pay someone else to do it.

The basic criteria for you roll own your include:

  • A suitable high-speed internet connection
  • A capable router
  • A capable server

With the roll out of fiber optic internet in many parts of world, it has presented server administrators with new options for hosting their own servers. I run CS:S servers from my house with minimal administrative overhead and cost.

The remainder of this guide assumes the following:

  • You have your own server hardware
  • You are in complete control of your internet connection
  • You have a basic understanding of server installation, administration, and maintenance
  • You have a basic understanding of the internet
  • You have a basic understanding of CS:S servers
  • You have a basic understanding of administering a CS:S server

One thing to keep in mind about setting up your own server is that no one cares. No one will answer your configuration questions and no one will help you go over your error logs. If something doesn't work you have to keep trying until you fix it yourself.

Your favorite search engine will help you solve almost all issues that arise during the process. Read package and plug-in documentation very carefully - they almost always leave out a step or two. I highly recommend skipping HLstatsX if you're new at this.

Infrastructure considerations

While my budget for CS:S servers is not high, I do purchase reasonably reliable hardware and protect myself from basic failures. I highly recommend the following:

Battery backup
- You'll want a battery that protects your router and server from brief power outages
- Purchase a unit that will cover your equipment for at least 5-10 minutes (look at the battery's run time numbers)
- Do NOT purchase APC units at retail (Best Buy, Staples, etc). They lack critical under-voltage protection!
Quality power supply
- I buy Antec power supplies
- Cheap/unreliable power supplies can kill your entire server
Redundant hard drives
- Many AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA based motherboards have basic RAID1 functionality
- Having 2 hard drives makes the loss of a drive something you can replace on off-peak hours
- It also helps protect against data loss