Top Alternatives to GooglePages

With GooglePages suffering a slow and controlled death, it is high time to look at hosting alternatives. We even include a section for Blogger’s who only want to host their .js scripts.

As most BlogSpot bloggers found out, with the transition of GooglePages to GoogleSites (or vice versa, can’t remember), javascript (*.js) files can no longer be hosted there, nor can html files that were not created by the Google creator – and the “Creator” does not allow arbitrary code to be inserted. So we have to find alternatives.

 

1. Get your own webhost

Once you have the service, you FTP the file or files to your account, then get their location (file-url) and use it to call the script. You can control who is allowed to use it either through .htaccess tricks or through modifying the script itself.

Getting webhosting service may be your first step toward taking your website to the next level. While there is a lot that you can do for free with Google Apps and Blogger, a domain name will cost money, and these days you can get basic webhosting for a little less than the cost of the domain which is usually included in the package. 1and1, for instance, has frequent promotions of hosting at $1-3/month and a few years back they had a promotion of free webhosting for 3 years. These days, their promotions are only free hosting for 3 months. Dreamhost and Jumpline (and probably most other webhosts) have similar promotions, though they don’t go as far in terms of discounts. I recommend 1&1 not so much because I’m happy with them, but rather because their competition is far worse. Some of the features in the graphical interface – for instance, restoring a mySQL database – do not work in phpMyAdmin and need to be done from the shell – at least in my old Professional account. Sometimes, I am forced to deal with particularly obnoxious support, who is trying to pressure me to upgrade to a more expensive package. I refuse and immediately after a nicer CSR calls me and offers to help. I am then sent an email form to rate the performance of the nicer CSR Shame on you.

If you are not ready yet for this step, you might want to consider free webhosting, as a first step toward paying for webhosting. With very few exceptions, the levels of customer support are congruent with this service having been commoditized. You may find more external reviews in the More Info section.

 

2. Free webhosting

Although the biggest and best known free webhosts are ceasing their operations (Yahoo’s GeoCities – which Yahoo purchased for a fortune a few years ago – or GooglePages, meant to be a competitor), some smaller players will probably always be around.

a) Basic free webhosts

Here are a few sites to consider (cf. anshul-free-js, and others):

  1. Fileden: 1 GB webspace, 5 GB monthly transfer, 50 MB file limit
  2. Sigmirror: 5 Gb webspace, 7 Gb monthly transfer
  3. Hotlinkfiles: 1 Gb webspace, 4 Gb transfer/month
  4. Ripway: 30 Mb webspace, 150 Mb transfer/day or 4.5Gb/month
  5. Boxstr: 5 Gb webspace, 1 Gb transfer/day
  6. Fileave: 30 Mb webspace, 1 Gb transfer
  7. 110mb: 110 MB webspace (also, PHP & SSI but no FTP upload)
  8. AwardSpace: 200 MB webspace (also: CGI, PHP, SSI, FrontPage Extensions, Perl)
  9. 50Webs: 60 MB webspace
  10. AtSpace: 50 MB webspace
  11. Trap17: 500 MB webspace (also: CGI, PHP, SSI, FrontPage Extensions, Java, Perl but forum posting required)
  12. Biz.nf: 150 MB webspace, 4 GB transfer (2 subdomains, PHP 4/5, MySQL, CGI/Perl, SSI)
  13. FreeHostia: 250 MB webspace, 5 GB transfer (10 sub-domains, PHP, CGI/Perl, SSI, MySQL, 404 error pages)

NB: this is an extremely chaotic space. A free webhosting service has to pay for bandwidth, computers and support and this could end up being quite expensive for any upstart. As such, many of them go belly-up in a few months from starting or simply discontinue their free offer.

b) Advanced site-builders

While the following sites are not so much suitable for hosting of individual files, they are similar to GooglePages / Geocities and we include them for completion (labnol-site-building):

  1. Office Live Small Business – Microsoft MSN outfit, tons of templates, everything free
  2. Weebly – start with a canvas and drag elements onto it; support for AdSense, free 100 MB storage, unlimited bandwidth.
  3. Snap Pages – is a basic Flash-based editor where you are limited to only one page as long as you don’t pay for service.
  4. Edicy Pages – excellent for the power user, it allows JavaScript code and you edit it much like you edit a WordPress template.
  5. Synthasite – you can embed AdSense in this completely free service and they have an excellent tool to edit images.
  6. Many others: WebOn, WebSketch, Viviti, Wix and Webs.

While most basic free webhosts do allow .js hosting, do not forget that a javascript file is, in essence, a text file. Nothing (apart from some service agreement that you should always read) prevents you from changing the extension to .txt and hosting it as such. You will then modfy the calling code in your blog from <script type="text/javascript" src="file-url.js" /> to <script type="text/javascript" src="file-url.txt" />.

Obviously, you can change the extension of the file into .gif or .jpg and host it in one of the many free image hosts, but though I haven’t tried it, I would assume that most of them check the file header for such abuses, so I don’t recommended it.

 

3. Host your file(s) on your own computer

This is probably the worst idea, compared to the others and we include it only for completion. To self-host, you will need, as a bare minimum, a computer with a live internet connection.

a) Dynamic DNS

Since most ISPs do not assign a static IP, you have to use a dDNS service, which will give you a 3rd level permanent domain name and sometimes will let you use your own domain name. You will then have to run a software client that will update your IP with your dDNS provider whenever your IP changes. Also, the computer hosting the files has to be on permanently, and your ISP must allow this type of server, otherwise you risk losing your Internet service altogether.

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OpenDNS does not really fit with the rest, but we had an empty box and we love what they have to offer. Whistling

The best known and perhaps most used services are TZO, yi, zoneedit, cjb.net, afraid.org, DynDNS and ChangeIP. Prices and features vary wildly so do your research, or wait for us to do it for you in a future article. Some routers allow you to specify your dDNS service, rendering a desktop update client unnecessary.

Last but not least, you will have to install and configure a webserver. While this is not as difficult as it used to be and there are now options that can be run even from a USB stick, unless you really know what you’re doing, you are inviting hackers to take over your computer.

b) Opera Unite

Opera Unite is a new service from Opera, the Norwegian makers of the fastest browser on earth, who stood up to Microsoft bullying and resisted Google pressure. The Unite service, newly introduced in the version 10 Beta – their latest browser - makes sharing files on your computer extremely easy. You no longer need to run dynamic DNS and a webserver, you simply choose which files to serve to the world and then give your friends the URL – Opera does the rest. To use the service, you will have to download the version 10 of the browser. Note, however, that the service is a bit slower than a regular webhost, though in all likelihood, faster than what you could do through dDNS and your own webserver.

In the next instalment of this series, we’ll be looking at specialized webhosting for scripts and multimedia.

Sources / More info: anshul-free-js, labnol-site-building, free-webhosts, 100-webhosts, top-20-webhosts, pr-freehosts, lifehacker-readers-best-free

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