Free web hosting generous, abundant
This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on April 20, 2001
Building your own Web site continues to get easier and easier. While graphical Web editors (sometimes called WYSIWYG, for What You See Is What You Get) remain a bit difficult to use, they are improving. (It's worth noting that the Web is only just a decade old in 1985, most word processors still required you to enter printer commands to start and stop bold face and italic.)
Finding a place to store your Web page so people can find it is also easier than ever. No longer do you need to know how to use an FTP client or arcane Unix commands for a telnet session. Today, with user-friendly (and free!) web-hosting services such as GeoCities and Homestead (which make their money by selling advertising space on your pages), you don't need to know anything about building a Web site at all leaving you free to concentrate on the content of your site.
GeoCities was one of the first free web hosting services, and it remains one of the easiest to use. Now owned by Yahoo (which paid more than Ford did for Volvo's truck division!), GeoCities has two easy-to-use Web editors a PageWizard and a PageBuilder.
The drawback of using GeoCities' web editors is that the files reside on their servers should they ever go belly-up, you'll have to build them again from scratch.
For more advanced users who prefer to build their Web pages on their own computer and keep a backup copy on their own hard drives, there are instructions on setting up your FTP client or use their Web-based file manager. There is even a Web-based text editor (called their "Advanced HTML Editor").
At last count, GeoCities offered 15 megabytes per account more than enough for a site with plenty of photos and even a few sound clips.
In terms of ease of use, Homestead is probably GeoCities' closest competitor. The biggest drawback to the Homestead Web editor is how long it takes to download to your computer especially on a dial-up account. To get around that, Homestead offers a standalone version of its SiteBuilder program that you can download to your hard drive. Manage your account from your own computer, then click "upload" when you're ready to send your new or edited pages back to the Homestead server.
Last time I checked on my Homstead account, you got 16 megs of free space per site with no limit on the number of different Homstead sites you can set up.
As with GeoCities, there are plenty of how-to guides as well as clip-art and other pre-existing elements for your page (buttons, icons, links, etc.).
Lycos' entry in the free Web-hosting arena, Tripod is nearly as easy to use as GeoCities and Homestead. They offer both a Web-based site builder (a version of Trellix), as well as a Web-based file manager for uploading files from your hard drive if you prefer that route.
Tripod is the most generous of the major free web-hosting services with 50 megs of storage space per account. And you also get a personalized URL trageser.tripod.com, in my case.
A sister service of Tripod, Angelfire offers the same 50 MB file storage space as Tripod. Be aware, though both services tend to be heavy-handed with the censorship. A couple of years ago, pro-lifers were complaining that anti-abortion sites were being shut down under pressure from pro-choice groups. The Big Brother attitude seems to have eased a bit, but if you're a non-conformist, you might think twice about placing your site with Angelfire.
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