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Free Classifieds

Free Classifieds Free Stuff Newsletter
Weekly articles bringing you free stuff resources

This newsletter is supported and owned in part by David Moore
of Gener8Wealth  


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Vol. 1 issue #3 Mar 17, 2002


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Choosing a Free Web Site host
Copyright 2002, By Daniel Irvine 



In this article I'll be looking at how to choose a host for your web site. I'll look at the factors you need to think about before deciding on a final choice.

First, you need to think about what your web site is going to do. Let's keep it simple; it's either going to be an information web site or an interactive site. An information site contains only static pages of (useful!) information. For example, you might design a site providing users with information on radioactivity. An interactive site builds on the information site, and provides a mechanism (or mechanisms) that your visitors can use to add their say. There are many ways of doing this, such as guestbooks, polls, message forums or link pages. For example, F-Free has not only useful information, but also a message forum where our visitors can discuss the information presented on the site.

Once you have an aim for your web site written down, you can pick a host. Take one, and evaluate it against the following factors to it:

Factor 1: Reliability
Make sure your web site will be up 99.99% of the time (if not all the time). Make sure the servers are quick to respond to page requests also. This is the single most important issue that can be addressed.

Factor 2: Usability
Can you actually use the service? If you're just a beginner, you'll want to find a host that can help you out as much as possible - but make sure it provides advanced features too! Beginners should look for guides to designing web pages, home page builders and other tools that save time. If you're more advanced, can you perform updated and upload files quickly? Is the process a hassle for you? Does the web site annoy you?

Factor 3: Features
For information web sites, you might just need somewhere that will be home to your web pages. Even so, can you upload via FTP (File Transfer Protocol)? Are there bandwidth limits (limiting your visitors per month)? For interactive sites, can you use your own CGI scripts? If not, then does the host supply free guestbooks, polls and message forums, ready for you to use? Try to find a host that provides many pre-made scripts for your use. Even if you don't get access to many, there are plenty of remotely hosted sites available for use. However, this option requires that you spend more time and effort setting the features up. These third-party tools will be harder to install and operate, and may also include extra advertising.

Factor 4: Limits
How many pages does your host allow on your site? Can you upload sub-directories? For general use, make sure you get at least five megabytes of space. If you plan to use message boards, make sure you get at least fifteen megabytes. Are Java applets allowed? Make sure they don't limit their services so that it cramps your style.

Factor 5: Advertising
How many ads will they place on every page? Try to avoid pop-up banners if you can - you visitors will really hate them! Also, if you plan to include paid advertisements, are there any restrictions that your host puts upon you? Make sure you find out before you start.

Factor 6: The URL
What sort of URL (Uniform Resource Locator) do they give you? Avoid sites that go something like http://www.boringcities.com/mytown/myhouse/me/1245/, and instead try for sub domains: http://me.myhost.com. Remember also that if you're in the UK, some providers offer a free domain name (http://www.yourname.co.uk), such as NetDirect-Online. Note that if a service gives a poor URL but scores highly in other areas, there are URL Redirect services available.

So, OK, you want my opinion? If you're a beginner, and aren't really looking for professionalism, try FreeServers or Tripod. If you want professionalism, try NetDirect-Online (UK Only). For CGI scripting, and no ads, try ProHosting, however their servers can be slow at times.

Daniel Irvine writes articles about free stuff and maintains site at http://f-free.net/ 
To contact Daniel write him at dan@gamebox.net


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