For the last five and a half years, I have run this web server as a free service for my friends, and for the world. I have provided free web, email, DNS, and other hosting services for my friends, as well as providing a lot of useful information on my web site. I have always provided these services for free, because I wasn't paying anything for the service itself- I had an arrangement with a friend who owned an ISP that I would help him with anything relating to his servers, and in return I was allowed to co-locate my server on his network, with his T1 line, for free.
In June 2005, my friend's ISP was forced out of business by one of the country's largest cable companies.
As a result, I have had to make other arrangements for co-locating my server. One of my requirements is that the server must be within reasonable driving distance of my home in Orlando, Florida. I also need several public IP addresses of my own.
Until December 2007, the best option I was able to find was with airwire.net, in Melbourne. It's a nice facility with 24-hour access, but it's about two hours' drive from the house, and of course it's not free.
In late December 2007, I was able to move my server to another facility in downtown Orlando. The pricetag is the same, but the drive is much shorter (and I don't have "unaccompanied" 24/7 access, although I can call somebody to let me in if needed... this is because the room also contains the computers and radio equipment for a cell phone tower.)
I've always prided myself on being able to provide the information I do, as well as the free services for my friends... however, now that I'm having to pay for the co-location, I am facing a choice: either pay the entire bill out of my own pocket, or start charging my friends for their services, which is something I would like to avoid having to do.
When I first explained the problem to my friends, one of them surprised me with a donation through Paypal, to help offset the cost of hosting the server. I hadn't thought of donations as a way to keep the colo bill paid, but in a way it makes sense- some people are better able to afford a donation than others, and this way people can contribute what THEY feel the service is worth, rather than my having to impose an arbitrary number on them.
So I'm asking for voluntary donations. I'm not REQUIRING donations from anybody, and there is no set amount I'm looking for... and as long as the donations keep up with at least half of the co-location expenses, I'm happy.
If you choose to donate, thank you in advance.