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Need Googlepages replacement: free, no ads, javascript. Amazon S3?
May 2, 2009 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Googlepages webhosting shuts down in June. Help me find a replacement. Requirements: free/almost free, no ads, javascript, css, custom html upload, at least 50Mb storage. Would Amazon S3 work?

Not needed features: mysql, php or similar server side scripting.

There are of course many commercial webhosts. But are there any reliable free (or almost free) services around similar to Googlepages (Google Page Creator)?

I've glanced at Amazon's S3. If I understand their prices then hosting a small site with very modest monthly data transfer would be very inexpensive. But I've also read claims on blogs that S3 can't autoload index.html and various other skeptical posts. However I find no clear info on the official S3 site regarding the index.html issue. So maybe it does work now. Or there might be some smart way around it. So I ask:

question 1: can S3 satisfy the requirements above?

I here hope for feedback from people with experience of S3, maybe even as a html web hosting solution.

question 2: if S3 doesn't satisfy the requirements above then suggest some other interesting free/almost free alternative that does.
posted by nolnar to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know anything about Amazon's S3, but I can suggest/recommend x10hosting for free, no ads hosting.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2009


Google Sites? IIRC, Google Pages is being automatically transitioned over to Google Sites anyway...
posted by misterbrandt at 4:03 PM on May 2, 2009


The webhost I use, nearlyfreespeech.net is really cheap, but not free. It might satisfy your needs, and if your site is low traffic and requires little storage, without buying a domain, a dollar would go pretty far for hosting.
posted by msbrauer at 4:31 PM on May 2, 2009


Seconding nearlyfreespeech.net. I've had great service with them for a small site.
posted by BryanPayne at 4:37 PM on May 2, 2009


RE Q1: nope, S3 is not a web hosting solution. It can store data to be loaded & presented via a webserver elsewhere (which many sites do) but it's not capable nor intended to be a stand-alone website.
posted by jpeacock at 4:47 PM on May 2, 2009


The thing about S3 is that it stores files in buckets. There is no hierarchical filesystem.

You could upload all of your stuff to S3, and then write up a new index.html with the new S3 URLs. If this seems like too much work, you might want to look for a different solution.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:05 PM on May 2, 2009


You don't want to use S3 for this. While you may be able to make it "work," it's not a webhost and will be far more trouble than you want. Really, you want Google Sites, the free replacement for Googlepages. Oh, hi misterbrandt! What he said...
posted by zachlipton at 6:05 PM on May 2, 2009


Thirding Nearlyfreespeech. 50 meg of storage & 500 meg of traffic would cost a buck a month.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:23 PM on May 2, 2009


Guys, if you haven't used Google Sites, then why are you recommending it? To quote: "Google Sites does not support custom JavaScript or CSS ... If this is a critical part of your site, we recommend exporting your content to another service."

and

"Google Sites does not support arbitrary HTML files. We recommend exporting your content to another service."

OP says they need JavaScript, CSS, and custom HTML, so obviously Google Sites will not work for them.

I'm nthing the rec for Nearlyfreespeech. Excellent host, very flexible.
posted by timepiece at 9:44 PM on May 2, 2009


4thing the praise for nearlyfreespeech. I love them. Not only are they cheap, but they are a bunch of pro privacy crazy libertarians.

If you do expect a decent amount of traffic, you could do what I do, and combine both nearlyfreespeech and Amazon's S3. All of my static files (images, .pdf, etc) are hosted on S3, and then referenced from html files stored on nearlyfreespeech.

It works very well. My S3 bill is usually around 10 cents a month, and I never pay more than 50 cents a month for nearly free speech.
posted by genome4hire at 2:29 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


misterbrandt, zachlipton: as timepiece pointed out Google Sites does not support javascript and uploading of custom html files.

msbrauer, BryanPayne, Pronoiac, timepiece, genome4hire: Great! I love it when multiple people give the same recommendation. If you'd all suggested different webhosts then I would have to research and compare them. Now I feel confident enough about nearlyfreespeech to just sign up and testdrive it for a while. Thanks!

I haven't ruled out the possibility of using S3 yet though. So please comment further on that.

b1tr0t pointed out a problem with S3 as webhost: no hierarchical filesystem.

But that is no problem if all uploaded files are named in a clear and consistent way. All files are in the same "folder" so the index.html can display images through "img src=image.jpg" i.e. complete image path is not needed.

The main problem with S3 as webhost still seems to be that it can't autoload www.yourdomain.com/index.html when you enter www.yourdomain.com (assuming you've set up CNAME for yourdomain.com )

That problem can be bypassed if the domain provider has an option to redirect to a specific webpage. But a drawback with that might be that the adress field will then contain the long and ugly S3 bucket URL.

I found a very useful post about S3 followed by extensive comments here: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000808.html
The mentioned http://www.s3fox.net/ FF add-on seems to make file handling very easy.
Details on S3 for webhosting here:
http://zeroflux.blogspot.com/2007/01/hosting-website-on-amazon-s3.html
http://www.howdoimakeit.info/amazon-s3-hosted-website-using-interarchy.html

I searched some more for a free alternative and found this about Dropbox as webhost:
http://andothernoise.blogspot.com/2009/05/using-dropbox-as-host-for-static.html
The site can be updated through the locally installed Dropbox client (drag and drop updates to a folder) or through the getdropbox website. This alternative has the same index.html problem as S3. But it is completely free.

Can anyone give feedback based on experience from running a Dropbox website? Are there any special drawbacks? Dropbox's terms does not seem to rule out such use of the service.
posted by nolnar at 10:37 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not qualified to make any useful comment about what everyone else has suggested, but I've had nothing but good experiences with Free Hostia, which is free, ad free and allows for all the things you requested above, including 250mb of storage. It sounds a lot simpler than using dropbox/s3 :)
posted by teraspawn at 10:53 AM on May 3, 2009


5th-ing nearlyfreespeech.net. I've been with them for about a year and have never had a problem.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2009


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