Personal Hosting

The world wide web is growing at a tremendous pace and one of the main reasons for this growth is the explosion of personal sites on the web. Just about anybody can start a blog, photo album, or other personal site to share with family and friends. While running a personal site may be fun, finding the correct hosting for it may be a tedious task. In this article, we will look at the kinds of hosting there are for personal sites and look at a few hosts that may be good for personal hosting.

The first thing you need to decide before starting a personal website is what kind of website you want to start. If you just want to start a blog, you might want to go for a service that is specifically geared towards blogs. If you want to start a photo gallery, you may want to go for a image-gallery only service. There are plenty of good companies that offer just that kind of hosting and their plan might suit you well. Overall, personal sites don’t require the CPU/RAM usage or bandwidthusage that other sites do because they generally do not generate too much traffic. Technical support, while still important, is not as critical for personal sites as it is for business sites because you aren’t losing any clients and contracts if your site goes down for a while. The main things you should look for in finding a good personal site host are server stability and uptime, disk space, and the availability of certain scripts.

Server stability and uptime are still important for a personal site because its just frustrating when your site goes down for no reason at all. While a personal blog or photo gallery is not loosing hundreds of dollars for every hour the site is down as business sites are, it may prevent you from accessing your pictures when you want to.

Unstable servers also have a large probably of data loss so you could end up loosing a large portion of your Album that has been acquired over many years of work. Before buying a host, you will want to check their uptime guarantee and monitor their uptime by using sites that track hosts’ uptime over the last month, six months, and the last year. This will give you a good idea of how the host is currently performing and will give you an idea of the quality of hosting you will get after you buy.

The next thing to look for is the amount of disk space you get. Some personal sites can eat up many GB’s of space because of the large photos that people store in these accounts. If you plan to use your webspace to store tens of thousands of photos, make sure to get a host with at least 10GB of storage space to store all your data. You should probably also look for a host that backs up all your data so you don’t loose all your photos if the site goes down. You need to look for a host that has 99.5% uptime over the last year if you want a stable host. If you are looking for a free host, you should look for hosting with at least 97% uptime.

The third thing you should look for in a personal host is the kind of scripts they have for you to use. Most people who run personal sites do not know too much programming and do not write their own script engines or modules. Instead, they rely on already made scripts to run their site for them. While there are a variety of good scripts out there, here are a few of the key ones to look for when hosting a personal site:

1. WordPress – If you are running a blog, this is the script you want. You will need PHP/MYSQL to use this script but this script is easy enough for an everyday blogger to use but has enough features to please even the most demanding of Journalists out there. With the ability to archive, separate entries into categories, time-based posting, comments, ratings, and more, there is hardly a feature you want that WordPress doesn’t already have. If there happens to be something you want that WordPress does not have by default, there are numerous plugins for WordPress to cover your needs. If you are starting a blog, make sure WordPressis available.

2. Coppermine Photo Gallery – One of the best photo galleries written in PHP. Coppermine lets you categorize photos, sort by author, rate photos, and have users leave comments. Coppermine can support multiple galleries and is very scalable up to several thousand photos. There are also many user-written plugins for Coppermine that can be downloaded and used if you happen to need more features.

3. Joomla – If your going for a more portal-based personal homepage, then you’ll want to use Joomla. While not the most efficient of PHP scripts, Joomladoes have everything including the Kitchen sink all wrapped into one large package. Like WordPress, there are numerous(although crappily written) add-ons for Joomla made by users that are free for you to use. Many options including forum integration and more are available with this content management system.
Now that we have looked at the features that you should look for in hosting for personal sites, lets take a look at some hosts that might fit the bill. These will be divided into blog only hosts and general hosts.

I. Blog hosts

1. WordPress Hosting– Free WordPress hosting from the creators of WP. WordPress hosting lets you have a free WordPress journal with all the essential WordPress customization features. You’ll be able to write posts, archive posts, and allow users to comment as well as choose from a variety of different themes. Plugins will be limited but if your looking for a stable blog host running the best blogging software, this is the place for you.

2. Xanga– This is sort of like the official Asian blogging site or something as many of the members here are Asian. Its not a bad blog hosting service as it does allow for some image storage and user comments but the ability to customize your blog is sort of lacking and overall I don’t like it as much as some of the other blog hosting services out there.

3. Blogger– Blogger has been integrated with Google but that does not mean it is
not a great service. Blogger offers users a customizable personal blog with ability to change layouts and gives visitors the option to post comments. It is one of the most popular blogging services online and has a large user community. The service is stable and allows some image storage and features a variety of other options
4. Live Journal – Live Journal is a fast-growing online Journal service with a large base of users. It allows public and private blogs, the ability to store pictures, user comments and more. Live Journal’s community also allows you to stay in touch with friends via IM or SMS and even has connections to let you share your Journal with Facebook. Live Journal is open source and supported by a dedicated group of people to love the service.
II. General Hosts

1. Zoomcities– If your looking for the best in free hosting for your personal site, Zoomcities is a great place to start. You have to post in forums to keep your hosting but 15 minutes of posting a month is well worth the quality of service you receive. The space and bandwidth offerings are small but should be easily enough to get a simple blog or photo gallery started. They have great uptime and technical support and a dedicated community of IT professionals to help you with your site.

2. Hostgator– If your looking for paid hosting for a personal site that is plentiful in space and bandwidth then hostgator is the host you are looking for. For $4.95 a month, you get all the space and bandwidth you will ever need plus the ability to install many scripts with a simple click of a mouse.Hostgator has good uptime and decent tech support should your site run into trouble.

3. Downtownhost – Downtownhost offers regular shared hosting starting at $4.95/month and special blog hosting starting at $5.95/month. The blog hosting comes with 1GB of space, full FTP access, a pre-installed blog, 50 GB bandwidth, 999 email accounts, and much more. Downtown host is also known in the industry for their excellent uptime and technical support. If you don’t mind paying just a bit extra, this is the host for you.
That concludes our roundup of hosts. No matter what kind of personal hosting you are looking for, one of these hosts will probably fit what you need.

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