Webspace Providers: Finding the Perfect Home for Your Site
By The Small Lady
Sometimes, the hardest step in creating a website is finding the right home for it. Webspace comes in all shapes and sizes, but can be broken down into four main categories. The choice of webspace provider can be a confusing one as they have their advantages and disadvantages, and even the most appealing one, the FREE webspace provider, has a set of disadvantages that may make you to consider paying for space. This lesson will provide an overview of each type of webspace provider.
Webspace w/in Internet Provider (e.g., AOL, Netcom, Mindspring, Prodigy)
Usually free with your ISP e-mail account, or available for a additional small monthly fee. Often, your web address would be short (http://www.provider.com/username/). The servers are quite reliable. You have few restrictions on the content of your page.
With many internet providers, the amount of space is limited (1-3 MB) and the cost for extra space on top of that amount can start getting really hefty. Most providers will require you to use FTP to get your files uploaded, meaning you have to have, configure and learn a FTP program.
Free Webspace Provider (e.g., Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire, FortuneCity)
No cost at all. Lots of space to offer (averaging 11-20MB), with more space available for an additional small monthly charge. Many have "File Managers" allowing you to upload files without using an FTP program. For those inexperienced at webpage creation, there are usually a variety of template pages and page generators to choose from.
Because of the large amounts of people using them, servers can get very slow. In exchange for the free space, your site has to provide some form of advertising, whether by a banner, pop-up page, control panels, link(s), or other methods. Also, you are more limited in the content of the site: no using the site as storage for remote files, no commercial sites, no adult material (no matter how artistic or clinical), and no controversial writings. URLs run from very trim (http://www.tripod.com/~you/page.html) to tediously long (http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Ginza/0000/your page.html). If you don't want the advertising to appear, you have to pay an additional monthly fee.
Free Webspace Provider - Private Server (e.g., Anime-Manga.Net, AnimeCity)
No cost at all. Normally offers a good amount of space (20 MB) per account. URLs are quite short (http://username.server.net/), and many are anime-related, which can add a nice touch to your site. Often there are no restrictions on the content of your site.
Because they are private, the performance of the server can be more unpredictable. If outages do occur, the help force handling the server is significantly smaller so problem resolution will be longer. Waiting lists to get accounts are long, and often the number of applicants accepted is limited; many server owners prefer to give accounts to friends and those with established sites over newer authors. Many require knowledge of FTP to upload files. Also, since the server is privately owned by someone, if they decide to close up shop and take down their server, there is nothing you can do but start looking for a new home.
Your Own Domain or Server/Purchasing Large Blocks of Space on a Server
You can have anywhere from 50MB, 100MB, to unlimited amounts of space. URLs are short, and if you decide to get your own domain or server, you can call it anything you want (http://www.yourname.com/). No limitations as to what the content of your site can be about.
Can get very expensive. Your choice of a domain may not be available; if it is, you will need to pay a fee for registering that name every couple of years (last check had it at $70 every two years, on top of what you pay for hosting. Server performance, help and technical support can vary from very reliable to very unreliable. You will need to know the basics of FTP to get your site online. If you decide to create your own server, you will be purchasing a lot of hardware and spending a lot of time and effort it.
Basically, the trend is this: Money = Creative Control. The more money you spend, the less restrictions you will have to deal with in terms of content, advertising, nightmare URLs and the like.
For the average person who is starting out a Sailormoon page, the Free Webspace Provider option is probably the best bet for many reasons. First of all, it costs no money. Second, it is more friendly to the beginner HTML writer by offering templates, code generators, previewing features, and other tools designed to make site creation easier. There is a technical support staff on call who is used to helping out new authors, so your question is never too stupid. Also, it is a good place to hone your HTML skills before you decide to apply for space on a private server (that is if you decide to--remember that having a site on AnimeCity or Anime-Manga.Net does not guarantee the site's success; your own hard work does). Lastly, there is no commitment. You may decide that you enjoy website design and make that your future; or you may quickly tire of it and want to give it up for line dancing. In this case, you are not obligated to pay a monthly fee for website space that you aren't going to be using.
Some of the more popular Free Wesbpace Providers are:
http://www.tripod.com/ - Tripod
http://www.geocities.com/ - Geocities
http://www.angelfire.com/ - Angelfire
http://www.dencity.com/ - Dencity
http://www.stas.net/ - Stas.net
http://www.freeservers.com/ - Freeservers
http://www.fortunecity.com/ - FortuneCity