Web Hosting

If you are taking courses in various aspects of Web site construction,
you will need to have some Web space to upload your work, make sure it works
on a real server with various Web browsers, and share your work with your instructor
and your fellow students. You have a number of options worth looking at here,
from free to various cost levels, depending on what you want and what tradeoffs
you are willing to make. There are certainly tradeoffs, because providing Web
space costs real money. The company providing them has to purchase data lines
to connect to the Internet, servers to store the Web pages on, salaries for
staff, etc. So they need to charge you for the site, or they need to find some
other way of making money off of your site, such as by putting advertising on
your pages. Know what the tradeoffs are, and make the choice that works best
for you. Here are some options you might want to try.

Your ISP

Most of us have accounts with an ISP, which you we use for dial-up
access to the Internet, e-mail, etc. In most cases, your ISP account includes,
as part of the monthly fee, some free Web space. Ziff-Davis provides a guide
to ISPs that is worth a visit, at:


Some examples:

  • Earthlink – 6MB of free web space with your account
  • AOL – 2MB
  • Compuserve – 5 MB
  • Prodigy – 2 MB

Check with your ISP for the details. If you are paying a monthly fee for your
Internet account, you probably have some free Web space, and why not take advantage
of it.

Your best bet is an ISP that offers a plain vanilla Web-space that you can
FTP files to. Support for CGI is a plus. Watch out for online services like
AOL that want to do everything in a special way that only they can ever understand.
I get a lot of reports of problems from them.

Your College

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at a college or university,
chances are you can get free Web space on their server. Some colleges even offer
free web space to alumni or affiliates. I am a staff member at a religious college,
and we offer Web space to parishes, schools, and church members, free of charge.
Look for something like this, you never know what you will find.

Free Hosting Services

There are a number of places offering free Web hosting. Bear in mind that there
has to be some way for these places to make money, and this will impinge on
what you do with your “free” site. They may place JavaScript or Banner
ads on your page, they may rewrite the HTML in ways that you would not want,
etc. Look before you leap, in other words. But if the price they ask you to
pay is something you can live with, this is certainly a viable option.

To see some of the most current options, go to http://personalweb.about.com/.

Paid Site Hosting

The About.com site given above also lists a number of paid site hosts. Why
would you want to pay for something you can get for free? Actually, there are
several good reasons:

  1. You can have your own domain name. Free sites generally make you list your
    site as part of their domain, like www.geocities.com/peterpan/. If you want
    www.peterpan.com, you will want a paid host.
  2. You can get additional services, like e-mail, as part of the package. This
    way you can have peter@peterpan.com as your e-mail address.
  3. If you want to have database access, e-commerce, or in some cases CGI scripting,
    you will probably need a paid account.
  4. With a paid account, you don’t have anyone putting frames, JavaScript, or
    banner ads on your pages.
  5. It looks more professional if you have your own domain name on a professional
    hosting server.
  6. If you have your own domain name, you can take it with you. If a particular
    host goes out of business, or tries to charge a much higher fee all of a sudden,
    you just move your site to a different. After a few days for the DNS servers
    to update, you are in business with the same Web address, same e-mail address,
    and no one will ever know.

I found these advantages to be compelling, particularly when I discovered that
the cost was pretty moderate. I have used a company called WebServePro (http://www.webservepro.com/),
which I use for my own domain, as well as for several clients. I just set up
an account for a client, and the total for registering the domain name, plus
one year’s service paid in advance, was $124. That was for 20MB of storage,
CGI, and 5 POP e-mail accounts on a Linux server. If I want, I have access to
MySQL databases, SSL, etc., for an additional fee, which is modest (example:
$2.50 per month for a MySQL database).

I hope this helps to clarify the various hosting options available to you.
If you want to discuss any of this further, please e-mail
me. I’d love to hear from you.

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