Well, if you are planning in taking computer course or you are doing it now, I would suggest you set up your own web and mail servers in your bedroom if you have a reasonably fast connection. You will get to learn on how those servers work and much more.
First of all, you need to have a domain name and then a DNS server to tell net citizens where are your servers located. I mean not in your bedroom but the ip number that is being used. If you have a dynamic ip instead of static ip, no probelm, it is all catered for. You can get a domain name and DNS server for free if you care to search. I got mine the last and only time I did it at DynDNS. It is good to know that they have flourished and the new name is Dyn Inc. and their new site is at dyn.com.
In setting them up the first time, trial and error will be the norm. But once you get it working, there is no denying you get the feeling of great satisfaction and that you learned something. Also you will get to learn how to code web pages, now that you have the web server running. There are many free web servers to choose from. Initially I ran Xitami which I later changed it to Apache. You can do the web pages the easy way, that is simple HTML coding, or the professional way. What I meant by the professional way is the use of Content Management System or CMS in short. My choice then was the open source Mambo CMS and it came, and still is, with Apache, PHP and MySQL. Lots of learning to do. Some people may dislike PHP but then, hey, you are learning.
For mail server, I chose Mercury Mail Transport System. You need to play about with the setting until you get it right. Same goes at the DNS server side. Still, if you want to go one up, you can set up your own webmail. You may want to try SquirrelMail. I did.
That’s a lot of learning and it does not stop there. One other factor that you will learn is security. Having had a web and mail servers running, you will be surprised to see that there will be attempts to hack at your little web server and attempts to relay email through your mail server. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the headache those system admins had in safeguarding big scale servers.
The database was run on a separate PC. The PCs were all behind a home router with fixed ips. Incoming traffics to the corresponding ports had to be allowed in the router setting.
There are more to tinker with if you so desire and make it an almost complete simulation of the real world.