Five Best Personal Web Hosts

The web's full of services happy to host your photos, blog postsand other online data, but if you're control- or privacy-minded, you can do better. If you're thinking about hosting your own site, check out these five popular personal web hosts.

Image a composite of photos by ilco and Linuxgeek.

A few things are worth noting about nomenclature used by web hosts, especially those catering to individuals doing small-time hosting. The term "unlimited" is bandied about a lot in the small web hosting circles. The key to understanding what "unlimited" means is to read the terms of service for your account. Unlimited almost never means "You can use our service as a file dump and share enormous files with your friends" but almost always does mean "We won't slap you with overages if your legitimate web site racks up some serious bandwidth usage". With that in mind, we'd urge you to carefully read the fine print of any host you're considering.

Oz ed note: Unsurprisingly, most of those hosting companies are based in the US. For a personal web site, that's unlikely to be a major issue (and won't stop you using a .com.au domain if you wish). My own researches into the local web hosting market suggest that few offer quite as good a price/features combo as those listed here, though of course that equation shifts depending on the exchange rate. If your favourite hosting provider does operate from Australia (with $AU pricing), give them a shout-out in the comments.

NearlyFreeSpeech (Starting at $US0.25/month)

NearlyFreeSpeech is a host that takes an interesting tact. You're not promised a massive (and oversold) plan that you may never fully utilise; instead, you're billed incrementally based on usage. If you're hosting a simple personal landing page site to showcase your resume and some place you can be found online, you may never pay more than a buck or two a month for the tiny amount of resources you use. NearlyFreeSpeech isn't the easiest personal web host to get started with—they say as much in their FAQ file, and there's not a "single click" web setup application to be found—but the prices are rock bottom and you'll be out less than a cup of coffee a month for a simple personal web site. You can view the services offered by NearlyFreeSpeech here.

Bluehost (Starting at $US6.95/month)

Bluehost offers unlimited disk storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited hosted and parked domains, and a free drag-and-drop web-based site editor. You can have up to 100 MySQL databases, 2,500 email accounts, and 1,000 FTP accounts. Bluehost offers one-click installation of forum, image gallery, blogging, and content management tools. Check out the details of their hosting features here.

1&1 (Starting at $US3.99/month)

1&1 hosting starts at $US3.99 a month and even the basic package includes a free domain name. The basic plan comes with 10GB of storage, unlimited monthly transfer, and hosted email. All accounts come with the 1&1 Webspace Explorer a web-based tool for managing account files and site organisation. Basic accounts don't include any one-click application installers, but all accounts above the basic tier include site templates and applications like forums, blogs, and task management tools. You can compare hosting plans at 1&1 here.

HostGator (Starting at $US4.95/month)

HostGator packs in quite a few freebies for even their lowest-tier plans. The basic "hatchling" plan comes with unlimited disk space and bandwidth, access to their site building application, unlimited email accounts, and dozens of one-click applications like information portals, forums, and more. Upgrading from the basic plan gives you additional features like unlimited domains, domain parking and SSL. You can compare plans here.

Dreamhost (Starting at $US8.95/month)

Dreamhost has made a name for itself with frequent promotional sales with outrageously good prices. Even if you don't catch them during a promotional window, the $US8.95 per month plan includes unlimited storage, bandwidth, email accounts, MySQL databases, and domains hosted. Every account comes with a free domain registration, and additional domains are $US9.95. Dreamhost accounts include one-click installation of popular blogging tools, forums, and wiki software. You can view everything included in a hosting package here.

Have a tip or trick for getting started with your first web site? Want to give a nod to a host not listed here? Let's hear about it in the comments.


Comments

    I like JaguarPC (http://www.jaguarpc.com/r.php?a=106094.68) - shared hosting is less than $5/month based on a 3 year term - with no limits on diskspace, databases etc.

    Probably why I haven't changed web host in over 10 years.

    For us Aussies, I've found Jumba (http://www.jumba.com.au) to be a great host.

      I'm happy with Jumba too. They give you the choice of having your website hosted in either Australia or the US.

    You could try StudioCoast.com.au
    It's easily the best value local AU based hosting I've come across, and is so full featured and reliable that I've convinced my employer to move their clients' web sites to StudioCoast hosting. If you don't need .NET support, Jumba.com.au is another great value local option. I've had a plan costing me about $30/year for the last 5-6 years for hosting minor things like email and an NRL tipping script without any issues.

      studiocoast is awsome i have 2 websites with them and couldnt be happier.

    Or do what I do and just use one of the blogging sites :D

    My pref is wordpress.

    I've built a website on that without needing to pay any hosting fees.

    Bluehost here - for the most part good quality hosting, and most importantly a pro-rata refund if you chose to leave.. Extremely important I think to ensure that there's a reason for a host to keep on providing a good service beyond the usual 30 day initial refund period..
    Pricing tends to yo-yo though - Sometimes $6.95/mth is only the price if you prepay 3 years, but at the moment it seems to apply to 1 & 2 year terms as well..

    Can anyone recommend a free web host that allows FTP? Its just for a small HTML assignment, but it would be cool to be able to update it as I'm designing and see the real-world result.

      If you don't want to spend any money and it's for an assignment, you could always set up a LAMP install and just run it all locally. This will give you the benefit of anything that's usually processed serverside still :)

        Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into it!

    LOL

    I believe this article in a reactionary piece to Customs new search powers.

    Can life hacker answer if that our data is stored in America - the data is granted some form of protection? Or preferably stored in a country where the data has rights? I think Sweden or somewhere near there is setting up the legal framework for Wiki Leaks to operate.

      Certainly a reason why I've set up a PHProxy install on my Dreamhost account, I don't need it yet but could in the future.

    I just had to give Best Blog Host (http://bestbloghost.com) a rave, they sprung up pretty recently. First month was free, and service has been pretty sweet so far. Still using Hostgator as well, they just have such impeccable support.

    i use an australian company which is pretty reliable and have cpanel n stuff. no contracts.
    their datacentre houses google n yahoo
    www.spiderhosting.com.au

    Great comparison. But one thing you forgotten is about m6.net. They are providing expert services and cheap hosting services comparatively. I give guarantee for m6.net

    I'm using http://www.opticempire.com.au and they have been great for years. I noticed in this list most actually all of them are US based web hosts.

    Try Netstorm Hosting, these guys will jump through flaming hoops to support there customers, they are reasonably priced considering there are no bandwidth limits and if you are after something custom setup that other hosters dont touch Netstorm will set it up for you on the spot.
    they also do monthly and yearly hosting plans so you can pay by the month.

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