This is a guide to different categories of web hosts, and some specific recommendations. It is intended for a someone who doesn’t necessarily have much experience, though I think others can find helpful stuff here too. In the chart, I explore many different free options, and a couple of paid options too. (Note: some of the links are affiliate links.) To see this page as flowchart, see the Web Host Flowchart.
Types of Web Hosts:
- Static Web Hosting - A web host that can just send files without running any “back-end” code. See Guide to Building Websites I for more info.
- Dynamic Web Hosting - A web host that can run back-end code and databases. This will let you run scripts like WordPress on it. See Background to Dynamic Websites for some background and Finding a Web Host for many more details. These are the different types of hosting you can choose from:
These don’t allow HTML uploads, but provide Website Creation tools. If you just want a quick site without dealing with any code, this is a good way.
- Google Sites - Simple way to create sites. Easy to collaborate with other people.
- Wix.com - Create nice HTML5 Sites.
Uploads + Site Creator - Webs.com - While they’re free plan is somewhat limited, you can use both their site creator or upload your own files.
Upload Your Own Files
The alternative to using a site builder is to create your own files and then share them on the web. You can do this either by writing the code from scratch or by using a WYSIWYG editor that creates HTML files. (I review using Microsoft’s WYSIWYG program here.)
Upload Files Easily:
- Staticloud.com - Super-quick way to upload files.
- site44.com - Automatically uploads files from a specific Dropbox folder to your website.
- Coming soon – Google Drive Options
Programmer Way – Its a bit more complicated to setup your files and domain name with these methods.
- GitHub Pages – Free. This is intended for programmer’s projects, but can be used for anything. You can upload your files with the version control tool known as Git. See Lifehacker for some directions.
- Amazon S3 – Very cheap hosting in the cloud. They’re free for a year and then charge a low-rate based on usage afterwards. You can read about setting up a domain on StackOverflow.
- BlueHost.com – I used this web host for two years. They were reliable and had good support. See my fuller review here.
- iPage.com or avaHost.net – These are very cheap, though I don’t know how good their support or reliability is.
- A Small Orange – They are well-recommended online, though they don’t offer “unlimited” hosting. If you don’t need a large site, they have cheap prices.
- DreamHost.com - Nice interface, generous limits, honest web host. They’re script-installer isn’t as extensiveas some other hosts’, and certain things took a bit longer. They’re standard signup discount is $50, though they sometimes have steeper ones. They let users create their own coupons (up to $97), so I created some of my own coupons for them:
- Save $75: 75OFFHOST
- Save $65 & Free Lifetime Domain: FREENAMEZAPPABLE
- If you need multiple domains or a unique IP address, you might be interested in these:
- Save $50 & 2 Free Lifetime Domains: 2DOMAINSSAVE50
- 5 Free Domains for life: ZAP5DOMAINS
- Save $30 + Free Lifetime Domain and Unique IP: IP30DOMAIN30
- GoDaddy.com – Giant company. They offer low priced hosting which they say is the power of the cloud but the convenience of regular hosting. I only tried them out a little, and they seem fine. They don’t have the best user interface though.
Cloud Hosting is a more recent development, where a website isn’t restricted to one specific server, but could easily scale to handle a large amount of traffic. Conveniently for smaller sites, some of the Cloud Hosts offer free tiers that can handle a decent amount of traffic. Since they’re intended for programmers, they don’t offer so many beginner-friendly tools. However, both hosts below provide easy one-click installations of programming frameworks or WordPress or Drupal. Their free tiers are also pretty generous so they could be better than shared hosting for many things.
- OpenShift – Works well for me. On the free tier, you can create up to 3 apps, each with 512MB of RAM and 1GB of disk space. Paid tier starting at $42/month.
- AppFog – Looks good, though there was some issue with it when I used it. Can create many apps and easy to add custom domain. Includes 2GB of RAM and 50GB of data transfer. Paid tier starting at $100/month.
Cloudflare – Security + CDN. Whatever web host you use, it’s a good idea to signup for the free Cloudflare service. They help prevent attacks on your website, and also act as a CDN to deliver your website’s content faster without using your web server as much. They also provide optional ‘apps’ that can be installed in one click on your website. Cloudflare works with any web host, but they are have an ‘optimized‘ connection with BlueHost and Dreamhost websites.