By David Strom
These days, it doesn’t make sense to pay a lot of dough to host your Web site. I am going to give you three alternatives that won’t cost you more than $5 a month. All three are great for people who don’t have a lot of HTML coding expertise and don’t want to shell out the big bucks to pay for graphic designers and programmers. I have built sites using all three methods and while they do have their limitations, they are all acceptable for handling the basics, and in some cases will do a lot more advanced things as well.
Let’s start off with GoDaddy. First, we choose whatever dotcom name your little heart desires, and hopefully is still available.. Next, we take a look at what GoDaddy offers for its own Web hosting plans. If you go to their sign-up page online, you will see lots of choices. Pick the Economy Plan for Linux. If you want to host more than one domain from the same server, you would pick the Deluxe Plan. You can get a better deal for two-year contracts if you call their customer support line rather than signing up online. Still, it works out to $5 a month, on top of the registrar fee to register your domain.
Why Linux? Because we will be using their WordPress..org installation, and that works better on Linux. You don’t need to know anything about Linux to run your site, you get the same great features of having a world-class blogging platform that you have with a WordPress.com hosted site, and you can do a lot more with it as well.
Included in the GoDaddy hosting account are a ton of free applications. Besides WordPress, you can install Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, PostNuke, various shopping cart applications, phpBB, and dozens more. The WordPress install is very straightforward and takes a few minutes, and once that is done you can use your Web browser to run just about everything that you require.
Using GoDaddy-hosted WordPress is great if your content can work within the blogging format, if you want better control over your pages than you would get with WordPress.com-hosting, and if you want to add ads and analytics to your site but don’t want to build your pages from scratch. One thing that the self-hosted WordPress isn’t as good as the dotcom hosted is the ability to stream video content. You are better off using the dotcom hosting and buying the 5GB space upgrade and running your videos there.
Let’s move on to the second method, using Microsoft’s OfficeLive Small Business hosting account. What I like about OfficeLive SB is that you can buy your domain name through Microsoft, although if you plan on moving it to some other provider later on, that might be difficult. Microsoft also doesn’t charge you for the first year that you have the domain, and then $15 a year thereafter. You can’t beat that price. You go to the following page to sign up: http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/pricing
The Microsoft plan is great if you have Windows and a relatively recent version of IE (v6 or later, running on XP or Vista) that you are going to use to build your site. They give you some simple templates for your page design, and if your site is going to be composed of a few static pages, then this is a really fast way to assemble a site and the price is rock-bottom. They will also hide your domain registration from public whois queries as part of the deal.
What about the third method? Check out the site Weebly.com. They offer free web site hosting, ties into Gmail and Register.com for domain registration as part of their package. I don’t care for Register.com because they charge $35 a year for registering your domain where GoDaddy and others charge less than $10, but what is appealing about Weebly is that you have a lot of control over page design and widgets and templates as well as integration into Google’s Gmail for your domain. The basic service is free, but if you want more than the freebie site – such as password-protected pages, audio players and support, it will cost the same as a more capable GoDaddy account, about $4 a month.
All three will give you more email addresses than you know what to do with, and all are good starting places for your own exploration for other hosting providers, which are overwhelming. Feel free to share your own recommendations here.
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