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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FSK Asks - Good Web Hosting?

I'm starting to get more and more frustrated with Blogger. There are annoying bugs interfering with my ability to use it. More and more often, Blogger is eating my drafts. Blogger hasn't had any substantially new features since I've been using it, even things I think are needed. For example, people have asked for the ability to implement standalone html pages, but Blogger hasn't implemented this simple feature.

I've heard horror stories about people getting locked out of their gmail accounts, and losing their blogs. I keep a backup on my HD, but it'd be annoying to lose my blog. If a spammer successfully phishes, guesses, or hacks my gmail password, I'm SOL.

I looked around, and noticed that hosting is dirt cheap now. I looked a year or two ago, and even lousy packages were $20-$50/month. Now, there's a lot of options under $10/month, and they offer much more storage and bandwidth compared to 1-2 years ago.

If it's only going to be $10/month, I think I can get the expense past my parents. Also, I'm working as a PHP/LAMP developer now, and I'm more confident about configuring and developing in a LAMP environment. (LAMP = Linux, Apache, Mysql, and Php)

A lot of people have said "Stop acting like a loser and self-host your blog FSK". With the price of webhosting crashing, that looks like a serious possibility.

Here are my requirements for hosting:

  • I want the ability to fully configure my environment.
  • It'd be nice to get LAMP configured for me, but that's not a requirement because I can do it myself. It'd also be nice for it to come with WordPress preconfigured.
  • I'd like to be able to install a forum engine, or roll my own PHP/LAMP forum engine.
  • If necessary, I'd like to be able to install my own C/C++ applications, if PHP winds up being to slow when I roll my own forum engine. (One of my ideas for a better forum engine would be CPU-intensive, so I might need to use C/C++ for performance. I'd like to be smarter about suggesting interesting posts than sites like Digg, which assign a unique global score to each post. I'd probably do version 1.0 in PHP, and convert to C if performance is an issue and it's popular.)
  • I want competent tech support for basic configuration questions. E-Mail or chat support is fine.
  • I'm not solely looking for cheapest price. Quality of service and reliability also matters.
  • I want a host that won't screw me over if I need to switch to another host.
  • Should I register my domain and buy my hosting separately, facilitating a switch if needed? I'm thinking that's not necessary, because it's supposed to be easy to switch domain registrars.
  • I don't want to get screwed over if I exceed my storage or bandwidth or CPU allocation. I want it to be easy to upgrade, if necessary. I don't want my site going down if I'm "slashdotted". I'll be serving only plaintext, which makes that outcome unlikely. For most websites, "no traffic" is a more serious concern than "exceed bandwidth limit".
  • I don't want a service contract longer than 1 year. Taking into account Moore's Law, what's a good deal now will be a lousy deal a year from now. Some hosting vendors automatically upgrade older customers when more CPU/bandwidth/storage is available to new customers.
  • I'd like to use "Google Apps" so I can get a gmail account with my domain. Some sites offer their own webmail service.
I did some research, and it looks like I should make the switch to self-hosting. Prices are really crashing. I'm gaining experience as a PHP/LAMP programmer, making me more interested in self-hosting. For example, in a LAMP environment I can just upload a static HTML page. I can't do that in Blogger. I'm getting disgusted with Blogger, and I'm concerned that I could lose my gmail account.

If it's only $10/month, I think I could talk my parents into allowing the expense. I don't think I could have talked them into $50/month, which is what the price was a year or two ago. (I really should be able to spend money without their approval, but they're annoying. It isn't worth the hassle.)

I'm getting pretty good at judging "These guys have a good website. They probably offer good service." I did my own research and picked a promising candidate, but I want to see what other people suggest.

The hosting vendor I'm considering isn't the absolute cheapest, but they answered my questions. You'd be surprised how many businesses refuse to answer questions from a prospective new customer. They don't currently support WordPress, but they offered to install and configure it for me, which is a good sign. They also only offer a monthly agreement, with no service contract.

8 comments:

Matt said...

Several of my friends and I use Linode. The basic $20/month plan should be enough to serve your needs.

DixieFlatline said...

Oh geez. Get a Text Link Ads Account, and use that to make money directly into a PayPal account your parents will never know about.

h--p://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/12/text-link-ads-support-blogger-platform.html

As far as configuring LAMP, you won't get root access for $10 a month unless you are willing to use a VPS without a control panel. You'd need to be very competent with *nix.

For what you do, go to A Small Orange

h--p://www.asmallorange.com/services/hosting/

You can get an account for $5 a month that will probably cover your needs now.

A word of advice, don't spend money unless you have a revenue stream. Install TLA on your Blogger blog for now, You should be able to easily bring in enough to pay for $10 or $20 a month hosting within 4~8 weeks.

barry b. said...

Hey FSK,

Glad to see your coming around... I pay 5.95 a month and get plenty of extras from internetplanners.com.. I'm sure there's plenty out there that offer the same. I use wordpress but it may not be any better than drupal or the others...

This blogger shit sucks.. at least in my opinion. I hope you'll create a site which will lead America to complete and utter chaos.. at least that's what I'm hoping for. And you know what.. washington D.C. is doing the dirty work for us.. well them and the media. The media of course being nothing more than a full time propaganda machine. Along with our public schools.. etc, etc..

Ah the horror

well good luck and happy blogging

gilliganscorner said...

canaca.net

It's Canadian. You get a discount as long as your dollsr is stronger than ours.

Nice Admin UI at: h--p://cpanel-demo.canaca.com:2082/frontend/x/index.html

Username/passwd: demo/admin

Have a look, let me know what you think.

John Petrie said...

Hostmonster.com and Wordpress.org. (Not wordpress.com; that's like blogspot.com. Wordpress.org is the FOSS blagging software that you upload to your new domain yourself. You probably know that.)

Perhaps my blagmate Kel could tell you more about the features you want since he is also a computer programmer. But one thing I remember him being excited about was that Hostmonster gives us the ability to do cron jobs, which wasn't offered by his previous host and other hosts we looked into. We pay like $6 or $7 a month for more space than we'll ever use.

Dirkson said...

Hey! I'm root for the webserver of a small company, and we could likely get you an account for $25(us) a month or so. I can set you up with a shell account, a decent webpanel, and I'm very flexible about installing things for you. We're more expensive than a generic shared host, but you generally can't email the sysadmin and ask him to install X program on the server for you on one of those.

Drop me a line at jeffreystewart [atsign] frogstar.ca if you're interested.

Also, that idea for adsense is a very good one - It's easy to set up, and while Google /is/ sort of semi-evil about it, they do generally pay you /most/ of what they owe you. An extra hundred (They only pay when your account hits $100us) in a private account every now and again isn't a bad return from a hobby.

Cheers!
-Jeff

Josh said...

You want a host?

I'll help you. I run a host that's starting at $55 a year. LAMP, cPanel, wordpress ..etc.

And no, I didn't just come here to advertise, I am a libertarian/agorist/Ron Paul supporter. And I love the way you defended Hunt brothers, and explained the best way to argue against taxation.

I'll answer any questions you have, even adjust my packages if necessary. My e-mail is on my site and I've done this for over 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Try nearlyfreespeech.net. - "Pay As You Go" hosting.
I end up paying about 8 cents/day.

This Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved. Check out my new blog at realfreemarket.org.