Whew! Did I take some heat
for talking about Onesite's domain and hosting deal
a few weeks ago. Clearly, the use of the word free,
in domain registration, as in politics, is charged with a lot of emotion. Judging by readers' responses, you'd think that offering kostenlos
domain registration and hosting was a bad thing. But the fact that it costs money to transfer out of Onesite and that each domain registered is subject to annual billing after a year (or five, for students) rankled with many readers.
Clearly, the use of the word free, in domain registration as in politics, is charged with a lot of emotion.
Fair enough. Not everyone wants to be tied to a particular domain registrar and hosting service. As the feedback we got from that column showed clearly, people are looking for a little more information about low-cost domain registrar and hosting options. In the interests of fair play, that's what we're going to give in this week's On the Dot. Assuming you want to establish a Web presence with your own domain, add some e-mail addresses, and avoid the URL redirection (in which visitors type in www.yourdomain.com
and get whisked off to www.tripod.net/yourpages/index.html
), here are some of the low-cost approaches available to you. This isn't an exhaustive list, but it includes four of the more reasonable domain-and-hosting companies we've found--with an annual charge of less than $40, all in, with no banner advertising on your Web pages.
These low-budget hosting options place restrictions that the charge-per-month hosting services don't; these include relatively small storage space and data-transfer caps, somewhat more limited tools and support, and generally fewer cool features. But for around half the cost of, say, a GoDaddy Junior or GeoCities Pro hosting account, you can't complain. (Unless, of course, you want to. And that's what the TalkBack forum is all about.)
If you want to dip your toes in the domain pool for $30 per year, your options aren't as limited as you might expect. In the case of two registrar/hosts of long standing, your choices can be quite acceptable.
Doteasy charges a $25 annual fee to register a domain, then throws in 100MB of storage and allows 1GB of data (not counting file uploads via FTP) to go across the transom every month. There's a free template-driven site designer for those who like such things, and Doteasy allows you to store media files of unlimited size, though at 4MB plus for a typical high-quality audio track, your monthly gigabyte of data transfer is likely to get chewed up fast. You can set up 10 e-mail accounts at no extra charge, which you can access by a Web interface or POP3.
If you want to dip your toes in the domain pool for $30 per year, your options aren't as limited as you might expect.
Another option in this price range is available from ICANN-accredited registrar DirectNIC, but it's a two-step process. First you need to register the domain, which gives you a 20MB space for $15. You can set up e-mail accounts at the domain, but at this price range, they must be forwarded to a "real" e-mail address. Then, you need to go through a second step and pay another $15 if you want a site uncluttered by DirectNIC advertising banners. When the ads go away, a data-transfer meter starts running. You get either one year or 2GB of data transfer, whichever runs out first. This is considerably less than the annual 12GB (1GB per month) from many other hosts, but it's surprising how far 2GB can go, even on a busy site. I have a site--granted, it comprises text-based, flat HTML pages--that gets several thousand page views per day, and I've always hit the one-year mark before the 2GB limit.
For $40 per year, your choices increase. You can, for example, add another à la carte option at DirectNIC to buy yourself a POP3 e-mail account at your domain. But other providers enter the fray in the $35-plus range and bring with them some interesting extras.
At $35.95 per year, AffordableHost throws a domain-and-hosting bean feast at the public. In addition to domain registration, its Single A package provides 100MB of disk space and 1GB of monthly data transfer. The company lets you set up unlimited POP3 mailboxes at your domain and--for the programmers out there--supports DGI, Perl, PHP, SSI, or C/C++ platforms at your site, too. AffordableHost is a domain reseller that packages services from an ICANN-accredited registrar and uses the popular off-the-shelf CPanel domain administration panel. This Web site management tool provides decent analysis of traffic to your Web site, which is helpful if you want to see what visitors find most interesting about your site. Most of the other companies listed here offer similar but more limited or hard-to-access diagnostics; but AffordableHost's CPanel stands out in this area.
At $35 per year, Catalog.com, purveyor of Onesite, provides a solid package of hosting options with its standard plan, adding 50MB of Web site space to your domain registration, with up to 3GB of data transfer per month. You can upload files using FTP or a Web-based file manager, set up five e-mail accounts using POP or Web-based access, and use a graphical template-based site builder to create sites in situ.
You have more options than these four companies, of course, even in this low-budget arena. I'm not a believer in a completely free lunch, but I'm not going to turn down a complimentary appetizer either.
Have a favorite low-cost domain registrar and hosting service? Tell Matt Lake and On the Dot readers in the TalkBack below.>