web hosting

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Web hosting can be the primary regular cost in maintaining an IndieWeb site; this page lists several options from free on up depending on your publishing needs, like a static, shared, private, or dedicated server.

Typical for-pay hosting services more expensive than most domain name registrations/renewals. Web hosting services serve web pages on a domain of your choice.

Contents

Criteria

Hosting providers aren't one size fits all. Picking one is in some ways like picking a cell phone provider. There are lots of factors that determine whether a given provider is right for you personally. etc. Here are some questions you'll want to think about to get started.

  • How much code do you want to write: none, some, lots?
  • How much are you willing to pay? Nothing, a little, or more?
  • Do you want individualized customer support?
  • Do you need any guarantees on availability, e.g. an SLA?
  • How much risk tolerance and security expertise? Will you keep up with patches, etc?
  • If you're technical, do you need a shell account? Do you need root?

See hostingnotes for some unstructured notes on the offerings of specific providers (in early 2014).

Services by Type

Here are various levels of web hosting service available from different providers, roughly ordered from easiest/cheapest/friendliest to most powerful/technical.

Custom domain silos

Some silos allow you to configure your profile to use your own domain name, thus at least giving you some ownership over your permalinks (that you can potentially transfer to your own web host later) and are thus worth considering as a content hosting service.

Tumblr is listed first (and preferred) over Blogger because:

  • Tumblr has much more beautiful, usable, mobile friendly default templates
  • Tumblr has a much friendlier posting and admin interface
  • Tumblr has many more posting options (web, mobile apps, email, instant messaging)
  • Tumblr appears to be better maintained (Yahoo purchased in 2013, appears to be supportive), whereas Blogger appears to be barely maintained by parent Google.
  • Tumblr automatically supports user-centric site icons (your profile icon/avatar is automatically hosted as your personal site icon.

In many ways, Tumblr's ease of setup, ease of use, ease of customization, and "pretty by default" appearance set a high bar for any indieweb project or solution to meet.

While not as fully functional as Tumblr or Blogger from a posting standpoint, micro.blog is an interesting choice for posting notes and photos as it provides the ability to map a personal domain while also supporting microformats, micropub, and webmentions (in a limited fashion) out of the box. It was designed specifically to allow one to own their notes while supporting Indieweb principles.

Advantages of custom domain silos:

  • Zero maintenance. No software or servers for you to maintain or update (e.g. security updates).

Disadvantages:

  • Choice of configuration typically limited to templates
  • Terms of service may limit your options for monetizing your site.
  • Maintaining URL permalinks may be challenging when you switch to another (more self-owned / self-run) solution.

Hosted CMS Software as Service

Some open source software is hosted on various domains and can be set up to serve your personal domain for you.

Advantages of hosted CMS software:

  • Regular security updates
  • Easier migration from hosted to your own web server / VPS (as compared to silos above).

Disadvantages:

  • Choice of software platform typically limited to plug-ins and perhaps javascript.
  • Terms of service may limit your options for monetizing your site.

Static domain hosting

Simpler and more portable to a dynamic content web hosting solution, static hosted domain solutions are (likely) even more reliable while still be free or very cheap:

File hosting services which provide serving static files over HTTP

Advantages of static hosting:

Disadvantages:

  • Complicated to set up.
  • ...

Dropbox

Main article: Dropbox
  • Dropbox (free)
  • See the main article for guides and services that help host a small static site on Dropbox.

GitHub Pages

Main article: GitHub

Amazon S3

Main article: Amazon

Google Cloud Platform

Main article: Google

IndieWeb static hosting users

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

Shared Hosting

FTP access with PHP or Perl CGI in a shared hosting environment

  • Dreamhost
  • Empowering Media
  • SollHost
  • Krystal UK Based, very good shared servers with incredible support. They have packages for both beginners and large companies alike.
  • Pair has been around forever, has lots of reasonable plans, and is generally very clueful.
  • freeshell.org aka the SDF Public Access UNIX System
  • Webfaction has lots of plans, supported languages and databases; runs Apache/ngnix.
  • a small orange has nice shared hosting starting at 250MB for $35/year. Good customer support. Kyle Mahan has had good experiences with them in the past.
  • Name.com
  • ...

Other opinions: HostJury is a crowd-sourced web host review service, though whether the crowd is sufficiently large and diverse to reduce the bias to a useful level is unclear.

Advantages of shared hosting:

  • no ads or other items on your page
  • Zero OS/LAMP maintenance. Shared hosting services will automatically handle updating your server's operating system, HTTP server, language support (e.g. PHP).
  • Ability to install your own backend scripts (e.g. PHP) to run your website
  • ...

Disadvantages:

  • Little to no choice of HTTP software. Typical shared hosts require you to use whatever HTTP server they maintain, e.g. Apache, Lightspeed HTTP, etc. HTTP server software then becomes another factor in how you pick a shared hosting provider.
  • Fixed bandwidth/storage limits (typically)
  • Very little configuration control, eg of domain setup
  • Usually no ability to use newer technologies like websockets
  • Unless you're relatively technical, apps are installed through stores like Installatron that are themselves silos
  • ...

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

Platform as Service

High-level language-specific runtime environment

Advantages of Platform as Service:

  • ...

Disadvantages:

  • ...

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

Virtual Private Server

Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a hosting model where you get root access to a virtual system and can install whatever you want


Advantages of a VPS:

  • full control over software stack
  • being able to run as many tools as needed or required

Disadvantages:

  • all maintenance is your responsibility
  • must be comfortable as a sysadmin

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

Dedicated Server

A discrete, physical server, on a rack or otherwise, which you get full access to, can optionally upgrade (for an additional monthly fee if the server is rented), and install whatever you want.

Advantages of a server:

  • Full control (as VPS) and speed; no need to share resources beyond bandwidth
  • large disk space could be used for online backup and server could be a host for a group of sites/peole

Disadvantages:

  • Price (although depending on load they can be more cost effective than a VPS)
  • See VPS

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

Home server

Home Hosting (or self-hosting) is the practice of keeping your personal data at home on a home server, typically on second-hand hardware or single-board computers.

Setting up a personal cloud allow unexperienced users to administrate their own server at home through nice user interfaces.

Hosting services on a dynamic IP address requires to use a dynamic DNS provider.

For more information about self-hosting, see home server.

IndieWeb community members using this approach:

  • strugee since 2011-12-19 (but only really started hosting real services 2014-08-19)

Articles

Articles about web hosting recommendations, problems, challenges. Newest first.

FAQ

Is using 3rd party hosting still indieweb

Q: If you use one of the 3rd party hosting options above (i.e. everything except for home hosting), you are still hosting your content on a webserver which is controlled by a third party, which thus could control your data. How is a setup where a 3rd party could control your server and data still indieweb?

A: Since it's the indie*web*, not indie everything, the important part is to own your web identity, which basically means owning the URLs. As long as you control the URLs, you can move between backend providers as you wish. You are in control of your online identity if you own the URLs.

See Also

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