Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

So Many Free Web Hosts, so Little Time!

I thought it might be useful to list some free web hosts. Personally, because I host several sites, I shell out a few bucks a month for what is known as a reseller plan. For those who don’t know, this means I rent a chunk of a server that I can divvy up as I see fit. It’s not that expensive and it makes sense for me, especially when it comes to having Perl modules or PHP libraries installed … that is, since all my eggs are in one basket, I need only load a module or library installed in one place. It’s a consistency / convenience thing.

That said, I can see several reasons for signing up for a free site. One I’m tempted to enlist with is BeigeTower, for 2 reasons. First, because I’ve been thinking of tooling about with Python … second … because it would be nice to have a place I could mirror the Redland site … using the free site for ‘development,’ then porting changes over to the ‘production’ site. I know, it sounds like a pain, but that’s how real programming works.

Zope … how I’d love to spend some time learning Zope … once I get Python under my belt. And what better place to learn and love Zope than FreeZope.org?

Speaking of real programmers. If BSD is your dialect, are comfortable around authors, teachers, students, researchers, hobbyists and
enthusiasts … and have a site that’s into public education, cultural enrichment, scientific research and recreation .. then Super Dimension Fortress is your haven. In other words, this might be a good place for an Apolgetics blog.

I’ve got this project I’m doing for Chuck Holton where we need to convert the huge PHPBB database to VBulletin. This means gobbling up huge amounts of database and associated memory, albiet on a temporary basis until the transfer is made. One way to get around this problem is with Unlimited-SQL, a service which is exactly what it says it is … “free remote mysql database hosting for users all around the world. There is no limit on number of databases you can register,no restrictions on what you install and no space or bandwith limit.” This too might also be a good place to keep a mirror of your precious data.

For those of you more comfortable with the Microsoft IIS solution … or perhaps just wanting to get a bit dirty with .NET, 24by7data.com might be the answer … and if nothing else, appears to have everything a small church web presence needs.

Similarly, if you’re just starting to figure our your church or charity’s web presence, and are thinking along the Linux lines, then perhaps 50 Free or the FreeGuy is more to your liking. Just make sure you read the fine print.

How about you? Got a free web host experience (no advertisements, but experiences)? Good, bad, not sure … leave a comment (not and advertisement).

3 Comments

  1. I have been reading this blog for quite some time, and appreciate the time and effort that Dean takes to share his hard-earned experience with us. I am currently working on a redesign of our church’s website, which I inherited from our previous webservant [1]. I wish to offer my two cents regarding free webhosts:

    1) I see little reason to sign up for a free webhost simply to create a development website. Assuming your current webhost supports what I am about to suggest (and that may be a big if, but a reseller account should do so), create a subdomain to house your development site. For example, if I manage the website at http://www.example.org, I would create beta.example.org, which would serve files from a directory separate from that which serves the production site. The development site can then take advantage of libraries and modules you have loaded for the production site.

    2) free services are worth about what you pay for them. Don’t put mission-critical files on a free service, since it — and your files — could disappear without warning. I would be especially reluctant to put sensitive information, such as membership data you might store in a database, onto a free service, even in a back-up or mirrored capacity. And if any of your scripts contain passwords, for goodness sake, make sure the development passwords are different than the production passwords (a good practice even if you don’t use a free webhost).

    That’s about it. I hope I haven’t overstepped my bounds in posting such a long comment.

    – sdg

    [1] The website was “state of the art” in 1998, but much has changed since then. Fortunately, my predecessor had the good taste not to include any “Jesus junk”. Still, it breaks many of today’s design rules, so it’s time for a remake.

  2. I use GeoCities for a site I developed for my family and I. After reading the previous comment, I, too, see merit in using purchased space for other things, such as a church website.

  3. I had experience with http://www.freewebz.com, and then I decided to spend some money to have a good service. Now I think that everything that is free is valueless. I’m satisfied with http://www.citizen-hosting.com – they offer excellent service for a reasonable price.