The way I see it, you have two good and one bad option to host your own website or blog. I’ll start with the bad one so we get that over with, which is hosting your site from a machine running at home over your DSL or cable connection. It’s cool if you want to show something to a friend or two, but unless you’re planning on running a dedicated server on a serious pipe this is a plan bound to fail sooner or later.
Don’t get me wrong. This could work, but you’ll have to throw a lot of money at it for it to be as reliable as a paid-for host. That’s what they are about after all.
So then there’s two ways to do it right. One way it to host your site at a free host, like blogger.com, wordpress.com or any other blogging platform out there. The other is to get in touch with a hosting company, decide on a formula, and get it running yourself by installing your own software. That’s what this post is about. One of the cons is already obvious, so I’ll start (again) with the bad news of hosting your own blog or site:
- You’ll gonna have to pay for it. Yep. Unless you want unreliable, cheap-ass hosting at Brinkster, you’re going to have to pay for it. So if über-cheap is what you are looking for, you should probably go for something big and reliable like blogger or wordpress.com. Nothing wrong with that btw. There’s lot’s of good stuff on those hosts in my rss reader.
- You’re going to be in charge of installing it yourself. If you’re a geek, this is a pro however. I love playing with new software and setting stuff up. I got all excited about installed WP on my site like it was the day before a trip to the zoo. Silly me. You might find people willing to do this for you however. But that will probably cost you. Unless you look like Jessica Alba. But I guess chances are slim you’d be reading this if you do.
- You’re going to be in charge or maintaining it yourself. If you’re a geek, this is another pro. But then again, sometimes even the geek inside has one of those off-days where you don’t feel like getting down to the nitty-gritty of yet another forum or blog software security patch or upgrade. You’ll have to do it though, or the chances of getting PWN3D by some no-good piece of spam lord is getting bigger and bigger every day.
Now let’s go on, and list some of the reasons why you’d want to live with those cons in the first place.
- You have your own site. If you went all the way, you even have your own domain name now. I recommend you to do this, and if you’re lucky it come with the hosting package for free. That used to be über-cool, nowadays it’s just cool. If you have a lot of non-geek friends they will be impressed. Or they will be staring at you, and not really getting what you are talking about. Never mind then.
- You’re in control. You decide what software you install and how you build your own site. You’ll have to decide about this before you start hosting though, because your demands will determine the kind of hosting package you’ll be needing. PHP, ASP, dot Net, MySQL, whatever it is, you can get it. So make sure you know what the requirements are before you sign for that hosting deal.
- Unlimited email addresses. You usually get these with your hosting too. This can be fun, and quite useful at times. Instead of having to create some fake gmail address as a cesspool for any kind of subscription that might be turn into a spam-gate you can create as much dummy addresses as you like with this. One thing that’s really handy is the fact that in most cases all email that gets sent to your domain gets delivered to the admin address. This means you don’t even need to create a specific email address to be able to use it. Something like .firstname.lastname@example.org works without creating. Simply filter on all the spam addresses in your email software (or gmail) and you’re done. Forever. Which brings us to the next pro.
- You have a place on the net forever. If you keep paying in time that is, so don’t forget. But with a domain of your own, you can rest assured you don’t have to worry about moving ISP’s again since you’re email address doesn’t have to change. Ever. Again. Sweet!
Forwarding your email is usually an option, so you can just forward it to your favourite web mail host. Gmail. Yeah, I know. It rawks.
- Access to your HTTP log files. At least, check if this is included in your hosting deal. Log access is so geeky, and so much fun to check what kind of traffic your site gets. Satisfy the stat-whore inside by running AWStats on your log files. It allows you to make some fun discoveries sometimes.
It also kills the need for all kinds of free-tracker button clutter on your pages. Which is nice.
So, that’s about all I can think of. If you know any more pros or cons, feel free to use the comments!