I have a domain name. Where can I host a PLAIN WEBSITE
April 2, 2018 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I was lucky enough to get firstlastname.com but the domain company (Hover) does not do website hosting. I looked at Squarespace and similar but I don't want a fancy template, I want a completely clean slate that I can just FTP stuff that I create, and I don't want to buy a domain name from the hosting company. I am fine with paying $5/month or whatever. Can I get an account at Squarespace and just delete all their crap? Or what's a better site?

I don't need to do ecommerce or monetizing or any of that garbage. It will probably get minimal traffic. I just want a static page (at first) and a sandbox to use to improve my design skills. I have searched and searched my options are: 1. use our template for people who dont know what they're doing, 2. transfer your domain name to us, 3. have a free site but use our subdomain.

I don't want to run my own server or program a rocket. I just want to upload HTML like I did on geocities. nearlyfreespeech is too complicated to set up.
posted by AFABulous to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
You can use either Github (free) or Amazon S3 hosting (just a few pennies a month if you're only getting minimal traffic).
posted by roll truck roll at 8:03 AM on April 2, 2018

Response by poster: No, that's not what I want, github says "Fire up a browser and go to https://username.github.io." Plus there's something about a repository and cloning some code I don't understand.
posted by AFABulous at 8:08 AM on April 2, 2018

I urge you to give nearlyfreespeech another look. Yes, the bar to entry is a little bit higher than some other providers, but since you know what HTML and FTP are you're already ahead of the game. For the stuff you don't understand, there are plenty of step-by-step guides. Trust me; if a bozo like me can set up a site with nearlyfreespeech, so can you.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:15 AM on April 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

1&1 always used to get good marks.
posted by theora55 at 8:18 AM on April 2, 2018

FTP is now more of a "premium" type of thing in some place that want to push you towards CMS-based interacctions. I, too, find the github stuff confusing even though they're one option. I think BlueHost is what you are looking for. Pretty basic. Decent prices. If you decide you want a blog type thing you can always go with WordPress.org and get a blog that isn't a blog, they will put it on a subdomain but then you can point your actual domain at them and they handle it pretty smoothly. If your website is really teeny, you might also want to think about asking friends if they have any shared storage space (that is where I host some of my stuff) because that's totally free and simple if you have friends who are nerdy.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on April 2, 2018

Just use Pair. They've been doing this forever, they're super reliable, and their cheapest plan is $6/month. I've had no trouble with them and I've been a customer for over a decade.
posted by hijinx at 8:20 AM on April 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Dreamhost will also do what you are looking for - they used to advertise on this site, not sure if they still do!
posted by unexpected at 8:30 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

nearlyfreespeech is absolutely the cheapest for a very low traffic web site. For the next step try Hole in the Wall hosting for $19/year. https://holeinthewallhosting.com/
posted by WizKid at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2018

You want "shared web hosting." Dreamhost would meet your needs (see services). Look online for coupon codes.
posted by lukez at 8:42 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: what is a "wordpress install" - do I have to sign up for both sites then?
posted by AFABulous at 8:44 AM on April 2, 2018

hover is a domain name provider. It is not a hosting provider.

You are looking for a hosting provider. Dreamhost, nearlyfreespeech, are shared hosting providers (this is what you should google). Bluehost is another option.

You will need to sign up for accounts at both places.

Wordpress is a CMS system. It's usually a one-click install at places like Dreamhost and Bluehost. You do NOT have to use it, and can use your shared host as you see fit.
posted by unexpected at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2018

No. If what you really wanted was a blog, you could get a Wordpress site and then have it hosted somewhere. Didn't mean to complicate things, just wasn't 100% sure what your ideal situation was.
posted by jessamyn at 8:47 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You need cheap hosting with cPanel.

If you choose a hosting company that offers a free domain name, ask if you can instead have a $5 discount from the first year's hosting.

WordPress (from wordpress.org) is just a software - you install it on the space you rent from the hosting company - cPanel makes that very easy for you, the "famous 5 minute install" (it's more like 30 seconds to be honest).

Wordpress.com is Automattic's money making version of the free, open source software called WordPress.
posted by humph at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

A quick google brings up this beginner's guide to cPanel.

If you'd rather create static sites or use a different cms (content management system, which WordPress is), then cPanel has plenty of other options.
posted by humph at 8:51 AM on April 2, 2018

I use A Small Orange for hosting my firstnamelastname website. It's $5/month, uses cPanel, and, since no one ever actually visits my site, has not ever had any problems.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:56 AM on April 2, 2018

You can use your domain name with GitHub, too, it just defaults to working with a subdomain.

I can totally get if you don't want to bother with it, but learning enough Git to use their hosting is not actually that bad, and is a useful skill to go alongside learning HTML/CSS/JS. You can learn basically all the Git you need for this purpose through Try Git, if you're so inclined. I like GitHub Pages hosting because you get the advantages of having a Git repository (tracking your changes and such) and then you don't even have to mess with an FTP client, once you're set up you can get your changes uploaded with just a couple commands.
posted by Sequence at 9:25 AM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I use Dreamhost for several websites. They have never been any trouble.
posted by w0mbat at 9:27 AM on April 2, 2018

I always recommend Pair.com -- although they have redesigned their own site and I can't find the information I want about hosting configurations or their green energy policies, so now I'm worried. Also there's a lot of gratuitous animation for some reason. What is up, Pair?
posted by amtho at 9:36 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

What I've done for self-hosting over the years is run a Dreamhost account (they provide the raw webspace that I can point my domain to, and an administration panel for configuring stuff, FTP access, installing software like WordPress and a handful of other things), and then set up a mix of CMS installations (usually a Wordpress blog) and hand-written little html/css pages for simple static projects or algorithmic toys in various subdirectories.

Upsides: for your needs, this would work—you'd be able to pretty easily point your domain at your webspace, and FTP a barebones index.html in the root directory, and go from there. And if you decided you want to sideline the "I'm writing this from scratch" bit in favor of putting up a styled blog, it'd be a quick five minutes to use their one-click stuff to set up a WordPress install on the account. You've got control without a ton of fiddliness for the basics. And DH is pretty generous about the disk space you can use and the traffic you can have, so for modest needs you will never run into a limitation.

Downsides: it's relatively expensive (on the order of a $100/yr for a basic DH account), and you're in charge of everything. Which means if you do go down the line of installing WP or any other third-party software, the setup may be a cinch but you are in charge of making sure it's kept up to date, script-kiddies are kept at bay, etc.

There is definitely cheaper hosting out there. If you really just want to upload hand-written html via FTP, what you're talking about in its most simple form would be a "shell account"—a barebones unix log-in, basically—with web hosting. If there's a service that offers that, and allows custom domain names, that sounds like it might be the minimal take on what you're after? But I don't have a specific recommendation, others might.

If you end up wanting to go more of a CMS route without any fiddliness—basically decide, eff it, you want a nice static page powered by someone else's software and security/maintenance updates handled by someone else whose job it is—my take would be sign up for a Wordpress.com account. Pile of templates, including options of a static front page rather than a blog-oriented format. It's essentially a somewhat locked down version of the self-installed Wordpress install on DH I talk about above: same software, just more of a top 40 pop charts version of the free-jazz possibilities of DIYing it on your own hosting. They have free accounts, but to use a custom domain name you'd need a "Personal" tier plan which is half or less what a DH account would cost.

It's possible that your best solution for getting a barebones shell-account type situation going up to let you have the total control but minimal bullshit you want at a cheap price would be to pay someone for a couple hours of time up front doing fiddly configuration on one of the more nerdy/raw solutions and then handing off to you once that's done. Could be a good way to get what you want while skipping the frustration of having to learn some sysop/webmaster bullshit you're not interested in.
posted by cortex at 9:40 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You really should have a look at Amazon S3 "bucket hosting," it is stupid-easy to just do a drag-and-drop upload, and it provides just about everything you want. The cost is likely to be almost zero.

I assume FTP support is somewhere in there too but I haven't used it. (For programmatic interactions the Amazon AWS CLI tools are pretty convenient. A natural thing to do would be to keep a copy of your website on a local disk and then update the live version with the rsync-like command aws s3 sync . s3://mybucket.)

S3 docs on static website hosting

If that's not what you need for some reason I am also a long-time happy customer of Nearly Free Speech, they are fine and affordable.
posted by grobstein at 9:49 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've had pretty good success with atlantic.net.

You can get a minimal Linux installation for $8/month (3 year term, $10 on demand) which gives you 40GiB of disk and 3TB of bandwidth. You fire up a distro of your choice (debian, fedora, centOS, arch, among others) and you're good to go. I had Apache2+SFTP up and running in half an hour.

Technically you're supposed to also pay for a static IP so you can correctly point your CNAME a stable address but I've been running for 3 years now on the same inbound IP and it never moves.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:53 AM on April 2, 2018

Echoing everyone above, you're looking for a shared hosting provider ("shared" meaning the host runs and manages the server, and you share the server's resources with everyone else who has an account, typically dozens-to-hundreds of other hosting customers). Based on your comments about GitHub, it sounds like you're not interested in any of the more technical options for this type of hosting mentioned above, like cloud/VPS hosting or Amazon S3.

For your purposes, it sound like you'd be fine with any of the lowest-tier hosting plans from the major webhosting companies mentioned above; Dreamhost, HostGator, Bluehost, etc. This should get you access to a hosting control panel (usually cPanel) and FTP/SFTP access to your web space to upload your content. At current rates, you can expect to pay between $2 and $6 per month for this level of shared hosting if you pay for a full year up front, and between $5 and $10 if you pay month-to-month.

You don't have to register your domain name with your hosting provider, but it may make things simpler; you should be able to edit your domain's zone file using hover.com's DNS settings and point it at your new webhost; both Hover and your webhost can provide support on getting this set up. Hover has a nice article about how DNS works if you need a primer on some of the terms being thrown around here.

Faint of Butt: "I urge you to give nearlyfreespeech another look. Yes, the bar to entry is a little bit higher than some other providers, but since you know what HTML and FTP are you're already ahead of the game. For the stuff you don't understand, there are plenty of step-by-step guides. Trust me; if a bozo like me can set up a site with nearlyfreespeech, so can you."

WizKid: "nearlyfreespeech is absolutely the cheapest for a very low traffic web site. For the next step try Hole in the Wall hosting for $19/year. https://holeinthewallhosting.com/"

Just a note about nearlyfreespeech, they recently changed their pricing structure; they used to charge strictly for bandwidth on static sites, but now they include a mandatory base $.05/day charge per site, with various other à la carte charges for things like storage, PHP, database processes, DNS, etc.

For folks hosting a single site with them, the change will probably be negligible (they have a nice pricing calculator that shows a single, small static site with external DNS coming to ~$20/year). I used to use them to host a dozen small static vanity/joke/experimental sites, and would end up paying $20-40/year for everything on my account, but with the new changes I was suddenly paying over $10/month, which finally motivated me to move all of that content over to a cheap VPS on SSDnodes.
posted by drumcorpse at 10:18 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Namecheap has hosting with cpanel for ten bucks for the entire first year, and about fourty for the renewal.
posted by Sophont at 10:31 AM on April 2, 2018

I use Amazon Lightsail for that kind of stuff... really basic VM for only $5/month.
posted by ph00dz at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2018

I was going to post the same link as grobstein to Amazon S3 static hosting. There are a number of FTP-like programs that allow you to connect to a S3 bucket to move files, and if your traffic is minimal, the cost will be negligible. I wanted to serve up a static page with a few images and was able to do so using that exact walkthrough. I've seldom paid more than $1 per month, since it's a single-use site.
posted by mikeh at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2018

Pair.com has offered too-notch hosting for longer than most people have known what the Internet is.

If you like cPanel, I know of a MeFite who works there; MeMail me and I will put you in touch.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:19 AM on April 3, 2018

As far as I know, Chrome will begin putting warnings on non HTTPS sites sometime this summer.

Most of the really cheap shared hosting platforms won't allow you root access, which effectively blocks you from installing a (free) self-signed SSL certificate. This means that in a few months you are going to have to buck up some extra cash to the cheap hosting site or deal with the fact that lots of people will be scared off visiting*.

For that reason, I think using a cheap lightsail instance or sw3 will actually work better for you.

*It seems like they are going to put a warning on the browser tool bar and not one of those scary, red full page warnings, but who knows.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:24 AM on April 3, 2018

I use gitlab.com (similar to github.com) to host a couple static sites . Here, for example, is one: davecompton.net . Note that I use my own domain name and that it is an https site signed with a (free) ssl certificate.

I used letsencrypt.org to generate the ssl certificate.

With the possible exception of the certificate, all this can be done on github just as easily.

The only cost for this site is the domain name itself.

I'm using jekyll to generate the site but it should be possible to handicraft your HTML/CSS/JS/(whatever) and upload ( git push ) it.
posted by metadave at 7:25 AM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: As far as I know, Chrome will begin putting warnings on non HTTPS sites sometime this summer.

They do now, which is where I got stuck on nearlyfreespeech, because Chrome would not let me visit my own site. The host's instructions for SSL were incomprehensible to me and I couldn't find a hand-holding tutorial, so that's why I won't go back.
posted by AFABulous at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I moved from GitHub pages with my own domain to S3 bucket hosting on that same domain. I find S3 simpler to use (I am mostly a command line jockey though).

In order to have legit SSL with your own domain for S3 hosting you have to use CloudFront, IIRC. I've done that and it works for about $1.50 per month for everything. I haven't bothered to disaggregate all the other random crap I store on S3, and I don't get traffic (I just have a firstlastname.com with my resume) so I hope those two cancel out a bit.

If it's a static site, I would seriously recommend taking some time and fooling around with AWS.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:28 PM on April 3, 2018

Ok, so for whatever reason this question has been bothering me so I have been poking around. As far as I can tell, if you want to host a static webpage with low traffic and SSL, you can do it for free (totally free, I think, but I haven't tested it yet) using a Firebase Spark account.

It looks like you don't even need to enter a credit card number or anything, but the startup seems to be a little bit confusing. I will test it out when I get home, though, and let you know if it works.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:12 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

It is _incredibly_ easy and inexpensive to set up a security certificate (HTTPS hosting) with a Pair.com account. Like, you log in to the control panel, turn on an option, and maybe pay a small fee. The simplest anywhere I've heard of.
posted by amtho at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2018

Ok, so I followed the directions on the Firebase site and uploaded a simple html webpage with very little difficulty. It is apparently all command line, but following the directions wasn't difficult for me (I am moderately computer savvy, but by no means an expert). I didn't attach a domain name to the project because I don't have one, but I looked at the process and it seems simple. Best of all, it is totally free, and you get 1gb of storage and 10gb of traffic a month for nothing.

So, the reason I would choose this route over using AWS (which I actually do use for another project) is that there is no credit card needed for the Firebase site. On AWS they bill you after the fact and there is no way to limit the charges (you can set an alarm, but what good is that if it is in the middle of the night and by some fluke occurrence you wake up to a three thousand dollar bill?). So yeah, I think that Firebase is definitely the cheapest option and is also easy enough to use.

If you want to try it and run into trouble, feel free to memail me. Like I said, I am not an expert, but I managed to upload a simple Hello World! site without difficulty.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:37 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Plus one for Pair: they just recently added literally one-click support for Let’s Encrypt, which gives you a free ssl certificate (for https://) that auto renews. It’s magical.
posted by Zephyrial at 11:19 AM on April 9, 2018

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