Cheap domain name registration (by price)
Go Daddy Software: This company, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers .com domain name registrations for $7.95/year. Other top-level domains (.net, .org, .biz, .info, .ws, and .us) are available at various discounted prices. Domain name transfers are $7.95 and include a one-year registration renewal. The online management system includes DNS, and domain name forwarding is free. An Economy email account with one mailbox and up to 25 MB of storage is $9.95/year; the pricier Deluxe email account has five email addresses and up to 1 GB of storage. The online FAQ is extensive and very clear; technical support over the telephone is offered 24/7 via a Phoenix, Arizona phone number. Website hosting starts at $3.95/mo with no set-up fee (see hosting section below). Unlike the other companies here, Go Daddy tracks the link source; I am not an affiliate.
GKG.net: This company, based in College Station, Texas, offers .com,
.net, and .org domain name registrations for $9.99/year for 1-2 years, and $8.49/year for up to 10 years. Domain name transfers are $7.49 and include a one-year registration renewal. The online management system includes DNS. For an additional $5/year, the Deluxe Parking package includes URL forwarding and a POP3 email account with up to ten custom aliases (sales@, info@, etc.). Support is exceptionally good. Website hosting starts at $4.95/mo plus a $29 set-up fee (see hosting section below).
eNameCo: This Houston, Texas-based company offers .com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info domain name registrations for $16.99/year, but that drops to $13.99/year if you pre-pay for five years, and $12.99/year if you pre-pay for ten years. Registration includes free URL forwarding. I used eNameCo to register my .biz address, which is forwarded to my main website.
DollarHost: This company, based in Burnaby, British Columbia (Canada), offers .com, .net, and .org domain name registrations for $25/year in US Dollars. If you register for five years the cost drops to $18/year ($90 for five years); if you register for ten years the cost drops even further to $15/year ($150 for ten years). URL forwarding is $10 to set up, with no monthly fee. 10 email addresses are $10 to set-up and $30/year. One DNS change is free, subsequent changes cost $10 each. Website hosting starts at $4.95/mo (see hosting section below).
Network Solutions: This registrar, one of the first, became VeriSign and recently went back to being Network Solutions. Yes, its a full-price domain name registrar with fewer bells and whistles than most, but this Mountain View, California-based company is rock solid. They also finally made their pricing page more-obvious. The base price is $34.99/year for domain registration with discounts up to 70% for pre-paying for a number of years. Currently Network Solutions offers a special of $24.99/year for three years. Email accounts start at $2 per month. Support is generally good.
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Ad-supported (free) website hosts (alphabetically)
Except for DotEasy, I no longer recommend free website hosts for business websites. First, having ads for other companies popping up on your website is less-than-professional these days. Your potential customers expect more from your business website. Second, free website hosts are placing ever-tighter restrictions on free use, particularly on business and commercial users. The changes, catches, and caveats are not worth the trade-off. That being said, most free website hosts offer quick uploading to the web and site-building features like templates and guest books. Be aware that website design templates and free images are all copyrighted works; if you use them, you wont be able to move your site intact if you change hosts. Some free website hosts (as noted) offer pay options to get rid of the ads and certain restrictions, but the rates seem to reflect the fact that the paying users are subsidizing the free users. My recommendation for small business: use DotEasy, or look for the better bargains in the next section.
DotEasy: This company, based in Toronto, Ontario (Canada), offers free website hosting with no ads, no banners, and no pop-ups. For that reason, it should be your first choice. You get 100 MB of webspace, up to ten email accounts, FTP access, and a traffic allowance of 1 GB per month. When you accept the free webspace, you agree to receive daily email newsletters from DotEasy, which promote its affiliates and advertising partners. If you tire of the emails you can always delete them (you only agree to receive them, not to read them). Also, all your emails have a footer with a DotEasy link. If you use any of the free website plug-ins (counter, guestbook, email forms, polls, and more), there will be a DotEasy footer associated with the feature. So, like the other free website hosts in this category, your webspace is ad-supported. Unlike the other free website hosts, your webspace is dedicated and your URL is your domain name (www.yourname.com). There are two possible (and minor) negatives. First, uploading is via FTP, which requires an FTP program - the other free website hosts here include point-and-click uploading. Its not hard, but if you havent done it before it is at least unfamiliar. Second, you must have a domain name, which adds cost and takes a day or two to kick in before you can start uploading your website files. DotEasy offers domain registration for .com, .net, and .org URLs for $25/year in US Dollars, but if you pre-pay for five years the cost drops to $18/year ($90 for five years). This makes DotEasy the bargain in becoming a real dot-com, at $18-$25 per year. Domain host transfers cost $35, but the fee may be waived if you refer two people who sign up within 45 days. I moved my wifes business website here after we decided that her paid website host was overkill for the amount of business she had time to bring in. It took about four days from initial sign-up, through the transfer, to a live website on her DotEasy host. Site reliability has been solid.
Tripod: You can get up to 20 MB of webspace for free, along with a traffic allowance of 1 GB/mo. You also get site-building tools and templates. I used Tripods free service to host the website for a club I belong to, until the pop-up ads got a little too specific for comfort. Free sites have a Hosted by Tripod.com frame with a banner ad at the top of the page, plus one pop-up ad that can be closed. As your site popularity increases, the ads become increasingly targeted and eventually may feature competitors. You can use Tripods templates and stock images for free, or design your page in HTML and upload your own image files. FrontPage extensions are enabled - often an extra-cost option. Your URL will be http://yourname.tripod.com (note: no www). Tripod (and its former corporate stablemate, Angelfire) has a good history of stability in partnership with Terra Lycos. One note about the late Angelfire service: many years ago, Angelfire permitted (or did not prohibit) adult-content sites. Later, such sites were prohibited and shut down. As a result of the confusion arising from this change in policy, Angelfire-hosted sites were banned from a variety of search engines, directories, and web rings, both adult-oriented and non-adult-oriented. I suspect that Tripod was created to get around that - and why it survived and Angelfire didn't. You can eliminate the ads and get 1 GB of webspace plus 100 GB/mo traffic allowance by stepping up to Tripod Plus for $4.95/mo (about $60/year). One other usage note: the current Tripod Terms of Service (section 6u) prohibits using their webspace as a host for photos for download at non-Lycos websites (such as eBay). Tripod is based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
WebSpawner: WebSpawner offers free webpages with canned backgrounds, graphics, and layouts. You can write some of your own HTML and customize your meta tags (such as your website description and keywords). These pages are suitable for simple business homepages or online résumés. The Terms of Service permit business websites. To get the free webspace, you must choose either (a) one banner ad at the top of each page or (b) one pop-up ad which can be closed. In addition, there is a mandatory link to the WebSpawner website, and a small, animated promotional logo in one corner of each page. Your URL will be www.webspawner.com/users/yourname. You can link several WebSpawner pages to create a quasi-website. If you want a hit counter or a guestbook, you must register with a payment of $4.99/month which eliminates the ads and includes the ability to upload your own image files, but at that point youre paying about $60/year. WebSpawner is based in West Plains, Missouri.
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Free and cheap website hosts (sorted roughly by first-year cost)
These website hosts are supported directly - that is, one way or another you pay them yourself. For most businesses, this is the section for you. Not only are the hosts here cheaper than the ad-supported hosts once you pay to get rid of the ads, but in most cases they are also less restrictive of business use. In most cases, these website hosts are more commercial in nature, with fewer bells and whistles. In most cases, you are your own dot-whatever. An important note: there are lots of free and cheap business website offers from hosting companies based in places like Malaysia. Although Im sure most of them are stable and safe, Ive yet to find an offshore web host with clearly posted Terms of Service. Thats why Ive never used them, and why I dont recommend that you do so either.
Your own ISP: Your Internet Service Provider probably offers server space for free (or, more-accurately, as part of what youre paying for every month), and this should be the first place you look. Be prepared to do some digging, though - after all, why would your ISP want you actually using all the service youre allotted? Most offer between 2 MB and 10 MB of webspace, which is enough for several pages of text and photos. (This entire website is about 500 KB, and there are 1,024 KB in 1 MB. A photograph that shows up decently on a computer screen will require 150 KB or more.) Some superimpose a navigational frame for the ISP as part of your site, but very few place ads on your site. Some prohibit commercial sites unless youre paying for a commercial account (a fact that is buried in the fine print). In most cases, your URL will be something like www.isp.com/members/yourname. Heres a sub-$10/year dot-com solution: use one of the above registrars to buy your domain name. Use URL forwarding to re-direct people to your ISP-provided webspace.
P4HOST.com: This web host is based in Stillwater (near Oklahoma City), Oklahoma. It is the current high-value bargain in web hosting. I moved my family website here, and found that customer support is a strong suit of P4HOST: email, instant messaging, and forum support are available. The Yearly Plan is $24 pre-paid for the year, which comes to $2/mo. There are no set-up fees. It includes 150 MB of disk space with a traffic allowance of 5 GB/mo. It also includes a powerful control panel, up to 999 email addresses, web statistics, a shopping cart, and Front Page extensions. The price does not include URL registration, but P4HOST offers registration for $15/year, bringing your total first year out-of-pocket expense (registration + hosting) to $39, an incredible value. If you need more, an additional $6 per year buys you the Lite Plan, which provides an additional 50 MB of disk space and 5 GB of monthly traffic allowance. My own family website has gone through several plans, starting with the Yearly Plan several years ago. It has grown into the Extra Plan, offering 1 GB of disk space and 40 GB of traffic for $109 per year. You can buy extra storage space and bandwidth as-needed. Payment through PayPal is available.
Go Daddy Software: This company, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a Junior hosting package with 500 MB of disk space and a traffic allowance of 25 GB per month for $3.95/month with no set-up fee. Pay a year in advance, and the monthly cost breaks down to just $3.16 per month. Front Page extensions and 100 email accounts are included, as is 24/7 telephone support (Arizona phone number). The online FAQ, though, is comprehensive and clear. The next step up is $9.95/month for 2 GB of disk space and 100 GB of traffic per month. These prices do not include your domain name registration; if you use Go Daddy for that as well, your total out-of-pocket expense for the first year starts as low as $45.87. Second-hand reports I have on Go Daddy are good. Unlike the other companies here, Go Daddy tracks the link source; I am not an affiliate.
Pair Networks: This Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based website hosts smallest FTP Account (with a www###.pair.com/ username URL) gives you 200 MB of webspace and a traffic allowance of 3 GB/month for $5.95/mo plus a one-time $20 set-up fee. You can get your own domain name added for $1/mo plus a one-time $15 set-up fee. So, your hosting cost comes to $91.40 if you pay month-by-month, $84.09 if you take advantage of the 12-month pre-payment discount; add $27 to that for the first year if you register your domain name through Pair Networks. I have not used Pair Networks, but have heard very good things about its reliability. Support for low-priced, low-volume accounts is via web-based library, email, and open forums.
DollarHost: This company, based in Burnaby, British Columbia (Canada), is a paid website host partner to free website host DotEasy, above. DollarHost offers a DH Starter website hosting package starting at $4.95/mo for 20 MB of webspace, up to five POP 3 email accounts, FTP access, and a traffic allowance of 1 GB per month. A DH Starter Plus website hosting package offers FrontPage extensions, 30 MB of webspace, 10 email accounts, and a 2 GB traffic allowance, for $8.95/mo. There is also a one-time $10 set-up fee. DollarHost offers .com, .net, and .org domain registration for $25/year in US Dollars, but if you register for ten years the cost drops to $15/year ($150 for ten years). Note: if you pay with the American Express card, your monthly bill will fluctuate slightly with the value of the Canadian Dollar, and will generally be a bit higher. For the purposes of comparison, total first-year cost assuming a one-year domain name registration would be $94.40 for the cheapest hosting package. Support is via web-based library and email.
iPowerWeb: is based in Santa Monica, California. $7.95/mo for a year ($6.95/mo if you sign up for two years) gets you 1 GB of webspace, 500 email accounts, a 40 GB/mo traffic allowance, FrontPage extensions, and one free domain name registration (.com, .net, or .org) or transfer. There is no set-up fee when you contract for one year or longer, making the total out-of-pocket cost for one year (registration + hosting) $95.40. iPowerWeb also offers free marketing and promotional support, and a variety of dynamic content options such as news, contests, and jokes. Excellent support is provided via web-based library, email, and telephone (Los Angeles area code, Pacific Time). Reliability is predicted to be good.
GKG.net: This company, based in College Station, Texas, offers website hosting starting at $4.95/mo for the cheapest Savings package, which includes 10 MB of webspace and one email account, with a relatively low 100 MB monthly transfer limit. Uploading is via FTP; for FrontPage extensions, youll pay an additional $10/mo. There is a one-time $29 set-up fee. URL registration is $9.99/year. Total cost for the first year (registration + hosting) is $98.39 without FrontPage extensions. Reliability is predicted to be good. Support is exceptionally good, with real people at the other end of a toll-free number.
Homestead.com: is based in Menlo Park, California. Reliability is good, as are the packaged services, including site-building tools. The cheapest Starter Package is $4.99/month after the first 30 days. If you need site-building tools, then youll get a first-rate set with Homestead, including a bolt-on shopping cart - but youll pay for them continuously.
InfoQuest: Not cheap, but this is my own business web host. Ive used them for about nine years. InfoQuest just started offering smaller plans, starting at $4.95/month for 50 MB of web space and 5 GB of transfers per month. It costs about $20/mo for 500 MB of webspace and a traffic allowance of 25 GB/mo. Note that this web hosting package does not include domain name registration in the package. However, the site has almost never been down, and 24-hour support via a toll-free number is courteous and exceptionally competent. Its that last bit of reliability and personal service that costs you the money, but if you need it this website host is top-notch. InfoQuest is based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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Free and cheap photo hosting services (alphabetically)
Why would you need a separate photo host? Well, maybe you're running out of bandwidth on your website plan, which you can conserve by hosting some of your images somewhere else. Or, maybe all you need is a place to host photos of stuff for sale. The listed services have all proven pretty reliable over the years. All allow direct linking to images from commercial sites, including the major auction sites and for-sale bulletin boards. All do go off-line periodically for scheduled maintenance; in most cases, the photo host will email a notice to whatever email address you used when registering. All prohibit the uploading of copyrighted, illegal, or pornographic materials. Most have limits on file sizes.
ImageShack: This company, based in St. Louis, Missouri, offers free photo hosting. It is claimed that you can upload an unlimited number of images, but each can be no larger than 1MB in size. Bandwidth use is limited to 100 MB per hour, which sounds like a lot until you start uploading lots of animated gifs. Registered users can pay for the ability to batch-load a bunch of images; otherwise you have to upload one at a time. ImageShack is one of the larger and more-stable free photo hosts around.
PhotoBucket: This photo host is one that I've used extensively myself. The free plan is one of the older and more-restrictive on offer: 50 MB of storage space and 2,500 MB of bandwidth per month, with each image being no larger than 512 KB. The paid plan costs $25 per year, increases your storage space to 1 GB, removes the bandwidth restriction, and allows FTP uploads. I've found the free service upload system works fine, and it allows the uploading of multiple images at one time which is very nice. PhotoBucket is based in Broomfield, Colorado.
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