I would like to create and edit our organization web site, however, it is recommended that I run my edit work through a test web server before posting to the host site. Can I create a virtual server on my main system or do need to create a separate system? What software would I need to create a test server (virtual or separate system)?
A virtual machine would work quite well. That is a standard usage.
VMWare, VirtualBox, Hyper-V...all would work well. Note that the VM will need its own licensed copy of the OS and any applications.
Basically, it is a whole other PC, without the physical box. It lives in a file on your workstation.
Im going to make a guess to say your using a windows machine .. so setting up a dev environment on windows needs webhosting this can be microsoft's IIS or apache , its best to find out how your current site is hosted , and replicate this envrionment on your localmachine
If you are looking at just testing the web site code IE the site content etc without replicating the machine its hosted on i suggest installing the WAMP stack on your personal machine and copying the website code down to it. Wmp stands for windows apache mysql and php |
This would allow you to run a test web hosting setup of your localhost on you machine and treat a folder on you machine just like the location where the website is now
Copying the content from your current system may be more of an issue as some of may be referencing off site databases etc so this may be more of a challenge for you ... depending on how complex the current site is
If you go virtual route, you can find preconfigured VMware or VirtualBox machines with complete LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, Mysql, Perl/Php/Python).
Another option: If you are in Windows world, have a look at Microsoft' Visual Studio Express Web http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/dn629514. It contains built-in server you can use to host your test web site.