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Web Hosting Help

BalgairBalgair Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So I find my self compelled to build a personal website, the nature of which is still a bit unclear. I do some amateur photography and figure I could benefit from an online portfolio. I'd like to make prints of photos available as well. Apart from that, I'd probably want to throw in a blog and maybe some music of mine (I write and compose a bit as a hobby). Now--I know--there are sites where I can blog or post photos and music for free. The point is to consolidate my work into one online location. It just makes things easier. Plus, it seems more legitimate...at least, in my mind.

Anyway, I've done some preliminary web hosting research, to no avail. I really don't have any experience with this sort of thing. I took a basic web design class in high school, and that was the extent of my training in the field. However, I'm fairly certain that I don't need anything too fancy. No terabyte of storage space, ungodly amounts of bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, etc. The basic hosting plans of most major vendors seem to meet my needs easily. Price isn't a major concern of mine, as long as it's competitive. What does concern me is quality of service, customer support, reputation, ease of use, and reliability. With that said, I'm not sure where to look. On the surface it seems I have too many choices, but when I read through awards and reviews that seem a bit suspicious (possibly paid for by the hosts themselves), and customer horror stories, I get lost. So here I am, looking for some opinions.

Based on my needs, and your personal experiences, I'd like to hear your suggestions for web hosting--and any advice you may have for me regarding this entire endeavor. It's much appreciated.

XBL:VOS THE VARG
Balgair on

Posts

  • TachTach Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I've used 1and1.com, who have been alright for personal hosting, but were crap for the fan-based community site I run. I switched that hosting over to Dreamhost.com, and they have been fantastic.

    Both are competitively priced, but from a customer service standpoint, I've been happier with Dreamhost- even though most of their CS is done via e-mail.

    Tach on
  • BalgairBalgair Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Really? One person has used a web host before? Don't get me wrong--I appreciate the input, Tach, but seriously... No one else has any suggestions?

    Balgair on
    XBL:VOS THE VARG
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I rent a Linode. It's the best thing since sliced bread. For me. For you, it would probably suck. For $20 a month, I get a whole virtual server sitting on the Internet. I can SSH into it, install my own Linux distribution, configure it however I want, run whatever software I want (including my own custom software) in any language, host Subversion repositories with very fine-grained control, host Trac or Jira instances, you name it. Reliability has been excellent and the community is small but growing. You'd hate it.

    DrFrylock on
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I currently use 123-reg, and I cannot recommend them at all. If I actually maintained my website in any way then I know I would be severely pissed off with them.

    Willeth on
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  • DeathPrawnDeathPrawn Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    On the opposite end of the spectrum as Linode, I use Nearly Free Speech for my smaller sites. They're not really appropriate for high-traffic sites or business ventures, but it sounds like they'd be perfect for what you want. Instead of charging you a flat monthly fee, they charge you based on what you use. Most months cost me less than $1. Their customer service is great, too. Unfortunately, they don't really let you use any fancy languages other than CGI languages or PHP (so no Ruby on Rails or JSP or whatever).

    DeathPrawn on
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  • KVWKVW Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I'd like to point out, even though you've kind of ruled out free sites, that Blogger and Wordpress are very powerful and free webhosts. Wordpress makes you pay money to adjust templates and CSS, so they're not quite as good, though I love their interface and other features they use, but Blogger is where I've run my site and compared to my old webhost that I paid for, I've gotten just as much use out of the Blogger one and it runs / loads just as fast, even though my site is much more image intensive than before.

    Unless you were looking to show off some amazing web design skills or wanted to have some php / mysql type of database for something, I'd really recommend just jumping in with Blogger, seeing what you can do and what you want before you go out and spend a $100 for a yearly plan at some other host. You can still buy a $5 domain name and have it point at the Blogger address, and that's what I do with mine, so you can get rid of the ugly blahblah.blogspot.com/21084720/387y912/home.html type addresses.

    Blogger also lets you adjust the template however you wish, including CSS. You can even remove those Blogger bars at the top of the page where it has the Blogger name, search box and login. Combined with the domain name and a decent layout and you've got a site that no one would be able to tell is run on the free Blogger service.

    Remember, you can create static pages for Archives or Galleries or About Pages and just use CSS to place a tab or position an image link to those sections.


    What I'm trying to say is, paying for it doesn't make it better. Blogger and Wordpress have excellent WYSIWYG editors and allow you to be a code monkey if you wish. The only thing they don't have is the database and PHP options. You also get nice storage space, around a gig or so, and near 100% up time. If you use a lot of large images, you can easily make an imageshack account or photobucket or your preferred account and host all the images on those. If you ever migrate to a new server, you can migrate all your old Blogger / WP posts and layouts to the new host and not lose a single link or post.


    Something to think about. At least give it a try to get your feet wet. You said you took a basic web design course a while backa nd aren't looking for too much fancy and I think you may end up regretting spending the money on a webhost (I know I did for what little I ended up doing with it my first "portfolio" site) if you eventually grow tired or find it too difficult or just grow bored with the site after a month or two.

    KVW on
  • DavaDava Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I have two domains at the moment. One is hosted with GoDaddy, which is about as no-frills as you can get. It wouldn't withstand the bandwidth needed to share your photos and music. I also use LunarPages (http://www.lunarpages.com/) and I've had nothing but wonderful experience with them. I host a webcomic on my LP domain, and I haven't had any downtime or bandwidth issues.

    I hear good things about 1and1. IIRC, this is the host the Foglios are using for Girl Genius right now, and Kaja has said good things about them. I also hear good things about Site5.

    I think what you'll want to look for, since you have only basic experience, is a webhost that offers Fantastico. It installs and updates scripts for you, so you can easily install things like blogs, galleries, shopping carts, etc.

    Dava on
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  • BalgairBalgair Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    10-4 on the appeal of Blogger. I definitely get it. I currently use it for other purposes, so I'm pretty familiar with their setup and ease of use. Unfortunately, it just doesn't quite meet my needs. Of course I'm not so naive as to believe I couldn't achieve my goals with a free service, I just haven't found one that does the trick. Like I said, I'm looking to combine all of my work and writing, all in one place, with a personalized feel. As for my awesome web design skills, I'm not worried. I've got friends with experience willing to help me out. It's really just the host service that I'm having trouble with. (Fantastico is desirable, agreed.)

    Anyway, I'll be looking into everyone's suggestions. They're appreciated.

    Balgair on
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