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.


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.

micro.blog is highly recommended. It provides almost complete hosted IndieWeb. It supports articles, notes, photos, replies, podcasts custom domains, microformats, micropub, webmentions, and IndieAuth out of the box!

Tumblr is also recommended as a second choice because:

  • It has beautiful, usable, mobile friendly default templates
  • It has a friendly posting and admin interface
  • It has many posting options (web, mobile apps, email, instant messaging)
  • It supports user-centric site icons (your profile icon/avatar is automatically hosted as your personal site icon)
  • RSS feeds provided by default, and h-feed/h-entry are fairly straightforward to add to customized templates

Advantages of custom domain silos

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


  • 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).


  • 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

Main article: static web 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.


See IndieWeb static hosting users for community examples.

Shared Hosting

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

  • Dreamhost supports PHP, CGI/FastCGI, and Python via Passenger/WSGI (although it's easy to run afoul of their process limits)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Reclaim Hosting
  • HostGator is based in Texas and has decent support.
  • Hostinger is based in Lithuania, has good PHP shared hosting as well as cloud and VPS offerings. Plans are well priced, especially if you do multi-year deals. Managed TLS previously cost extra but appears to be free as of 2022
  • ...

Previous Recommendations

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 of Shared Hosting

  • 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
  • Limits in what stacks you can run (e.g. usually just PHP, maybe CGI or FastCGI; support for WSGI/node/Passenger/etc. is extremely rare)
  • ...

IndieWeb community members using this approach

Platform as Service

High-level language-specific runtime environment

Advantages of Platform as Service

  • ...


  • ...

IndieWeb community members using this approach

  • Ryan Barrett with Bridgy on App Engine
  • fluffy runs the Publ CMS example/documentation site on Heroku, mostly to demonstrate the feasibility
    • However this would not be a good match for a larger site as Heroku has fairly significant storage limitations (by design)
  • ...

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

  • Bytemark (UK)
  • Flosoft (DE)
  • Hosteurope (DE)
  • Linode
  • Gandi provides simple pre configured virtual machines with PHP / NodeJS / MySQL / PgSQL / MongoDB starting 5$ a month. Servers are both in Europe and in the USA.
  • Digital Ocean is similar to Linode, but starting at $5/mo.
  • Atlantic.net is similar to DigitalOcean and Linode, but offers a "GO" plan for $0.99 a month.
  • Pair (see above)
  • Google Compute Engine
  • Amazon AWS
  • Rackspace
  • Prgrmr
  • LowEndBox is a site for reviews/offers of inexpensive VPS services from various companies. Your mileage may vary.
  • Vultr Vultr is like AWS but simple.
  • Dreamhost also offers a VPS-like thing that is a middle ground between shared hosting and a full VPS
    • Advantage: still has the nice Dreamhost service/site/etc. management tools, and lets you run your choice of service stack
    • Disadvantage: the way they manage the memory utilization is by hard-killing your container if you ever allocate too much, and they count kernel cache allocations against that but there's no way to limit the cache size; end result: Google indexes your site, your site goes down because the cache size spiked

Advantages of a VPS

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


  • 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


  • 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

Appliance Server

Similar to a VPS except the server is pre-configured to run an application for you. The appliance server is chosen based on the application you want to run. This might help less technical users get started with their own server.


  • More expensive than a VPS


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


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.

Q: I get a server 5XX error when visiting my website which uses PHP. What could be the issue? A: It could be many things, but it should be outside the the request and requester control. When using PHP, you should try to find a common place in your program to add the debugging statements `ini_set(‘display_errors’, 1);` and `error_reporting(E_ALL);` which should notify you where problems are coming from. It can be better to test changes on your own machine instead of doing this on a live site, as secrets may be leaked and attackers or potential attackers could gain insights to help them attack your site or the application you use.

See Also