Monday, August 28, 2017

Options for Hosting a Web Site

How do you find a service to host your web site? I pondered this question many times in the past. Occasionally, I would get an idea and want to stand up an online presence. Nothing too important, mostly for fun and a challenge. There are many options available and a Google search will provide results for all sorts of companies.

One of the main goals that has been common among web sites I’ve done in the past was low cost. Even low cost isn’t quite right. The goal was really no cost! There is always the cost of your time to consider though. It is easy to spend endless hours looking at all the different ways and options for hosting. I would recommend putting down a short list of requirements to get started. Here are a few requirements I decided on for this blog:

  • Free
  • Easy to use as a blog
  • Limited maintenance required
  • Ability to use custom domain

Having a list like this helps to direct your search. Keeping yourself from going too many directions allows you to get started in writing posts and sharing data sooner!
Below are the hosting options I came up with for this blog based on the list above and my previous experiences.

Two of the above, x10hosting and Byet Internet Services, are extremely similar. If you review their free hosting plans you’ll see that for a personal blog or web site they provide quite a bit. The list of features includes plenty of storage space, bandwidth, databases, etc. A lot of flexibility exists in how you use the free hosting. There are many 1-click installation options for blog and other web site platforms like WordPress. Both allow you to use a custom domain and also don’t require forced advertising on your pages. The one significant difference is that x10hosting requires you to log in to your account portal at least once every 31 days. Byet Internet Services does not appear to have any similar requirement. Neither are particularly fast, but I suppose you get what you pay for. As legitimate hosting options these are pretty darn good.

I was unaware of GitHub Pages until recently. This seems like a nice choice since it is backed by infrastructure that is surely robust. One significant limitation is a restriction for static only pages. I don’t think this would have been a problem though since my main purpose is to post blog entries and share information. A number of static site generators are available to get a site going. A generator called Jekyll is recommended and also blog-aware. GitHub Pages seems to be a great option especially if you are already an active GitHub user. However, you need to know how to create files using Markdown or HTML. It is also a little bit more difficult to manage and include images in posts.

Blogger has been around for a long time having launched on August 23, 1999. It is now part of Google after being acquired in 2003. I expect that Blogger, like GitHub Pages, has a solid infrastructure backing its service. There are some limitations that apply if you blog with Blogger. In reviewing the list I don’t believe it will be a problem for me at this point. Setting up and starting a blog is very easy. A benefit with Blogger is that you don’t have to install anything.

In the end I chose to go with Blogger this time from the options above. A big reason was that I wanted to focus on actually creating posts. Blogger keeps me form getting distracted with too many options and add-ons. I also do not have to worry about software installations, maintenance, or security of the site. It probably isn’t as flexible as the other choices, but still allows for themes, selected widgets, custom HTML, and comments. Blogger seems to be serving my purposes well so far. Perhaps if I hit a limitation I’ll give GitHub Pages a try. As for now though, if you are looking to host a simple blog I’d recommend giving Blogger a try.