7.9 Hosting

Once you have a domain, you have to decide where to host it. This means finding a service that provides servers and bandwidth. Many registrars do both, and this is certainly the simplest way to go. There are hundreds of hosting companies to choose from; the key is to find one that meets your needs and offers the best combination of price, reliability and service. As with registrars, your options range from companies like Yahoo! to boutique services like the one I use, where, again, I know and trust the owner.

A good hosting company will give you easy ways to create your site on its servers. My hosting company, for example, will set up a WordPress blog for me, and gives me online tools that let me create sites using Drupal and many other, more flexible content-management systems (CMSs). You’ll also get email services when you sign up with one of these companies. This has its own value. Rather than using the email from the Internet Service Provider where I live, I get my mail at dangillmor.com—a domain that stays with me even if I move and change ISPs. Of course, services like Gmail and Yahoo! mail also offer this portability, but I’d rather keep my mail archives (the messages I choose to save, far from all of them) on my computers than on someone else’s.

Hosting may sound like a pain. And to some degree it can be. You may not need to get complicated in any way, though, if you just want to create a simple home base using platform-specific software.

For example, you could start a blog at WordPress.com, which offers hosted blogging services and gives you excellent flexibility in terms of the look and feel, though you can customize even more if you have your own WordPress (or other CMS) installation. Then, when you’ve created your blog, you can point it—for a fee—to your personal domain. Outsiders who go to your domain address will see the blog, which is hosted by WordPress, but they’ll see it as part of your own domain. If you do this, be sure to get a backup drive that backs up all of your data on a regular basis.

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