The first web host I ever used was CanadianWebHosting.com. It wasn’t for me, rather my father’s site, and we were looking for a Canadian-based web host for his small business. They offered domains for $15/year, and 100mb monthly storage / 5GB montly transfer for about $5/month.
A couple years later, I was looking to obtain my own domain name and web space for a small site. While searching for a host that accepted Paypal, and one that would be cost effective, I found GoDaddy.com – one of the more popular big name hosts, and ordered a domain for $1.99 and hosting (5GB space / 250GB transfer) for somewhere in the neighborhood of $4/month. I uploaded my site and was good to go.
All was well, and I didn’t really have problems except for one… Stats tracking. GoDaddy gives you poor tracking unless you pay to upgrade to their “Traffic Facts” for an extra $3/month. For a while I used a free online stats tracker called Ritecounter, but Ritecounter was slow-loading, and went down at times. A pretty fantastic tracker, free, but less than perfect. Looking at my father’s website still hosted with CanadianWebHosting.com, he had better stats tracking than what GoDaddy was giving me, so I started to search elsewhere.
Finally, while viewing the WHT forums, I came across a company called “asmallorange”. People seemed to like them, and they had a “tiny” hosting package for $30/year, which works out to under $3/month. It only offers 75MB of disk space and 3GB monthly transfer, but for my static eyeglass review site with pictures, that was plenty. They offered cpanel (as many hosts do, including my father’s host) which has a few stats tracking components in it.
Not long after signing up, things were set up and I was good to go. I changed the setttings at GoDaddy to point my domain to the name servers at asmallorange, and the website was up and running.
One thing that asmallorange.com provides for free is a lot of ‘unlimiteds’. These are things that seemingly don’t cost them extra to provide, and unlike many other hosts, they give them to you for free. These include (taken from their site):
- Unlimited POP3/IMAP Mail Accounts
- Unlimited MySQL Databases
- Unlimited Mailing Lists
- Unlimited Email Forwarders
- Unlimited Subdomains
- Unlimited Parked and Addon Domains
- Unlimited FTP Accounts
One day, I decided to start up a site providing free Warcraft Map information and downloads. While trying to decide whether to use static html pages (like the eyeglass review site), or go to something new, I came across “Joomla” while browsing through the Fantastico scripts offered through asmallorange. After reading up on Joomla, I thought I’d give it a go, and it installed quickly and easily through Fantastico, automatically setting up the MySQL database in the process.
Over the next while, new ideas started coming to me for other websites. The only cost of course were the domain names, since with asmallorange’s “Unlimited Parked and Addon Domains”, I could simply point whatever domains I registered to my space at asmallorange. I ended up with a total of 2 regular websites, 1 subdomain forum, 1 Joomla site, and 2 link directory websites. As you might guess, 75mb is a bit low, and I ended up upgrading to the $5/month plan, which happened quickly and painlessly.
Another option offered by asmallorange.com is “reselling access” for an additional $5/month, which I have also added to my plan. With reselling access, you can create other cpanel accounts using your existing web space and monthly transfer allowance. You can sell these other cpanel accounts, give them to friends, or use them for your own sites rather than creating add-on domains. With my own reselling access, I plan to create an account for my father so he can transfer his small business site. A brother of mine also has a band that is looking to set up their own website in the near future, and I will likely do the same for them.
When looking for a host, I have found that you must look far beyond the “$x.xx/month for x MB space and x GB transfer”. You have to see what else is included with the plan, and if you require any options, how much cost those are going to add. For myself, asmallorange gives me a lot for the money. Their email support has been very good, they don’t charge a heck of a lot, and they don’t give you a bunch of artificial limits.
If you had a bunch of small sites, you could feasibly host them all for $30/year. If you’re on their $5/month plan and wanted to start creating accounts for others, you could do so for another $5/month.
And even if you only have one site (which I did when I started), it’s still a great deal. Service and support are both there for you, and there’s no limit if you all of a sudden decide to run more sites, or create subdomains on your current site. You can always upgrade your plan if you need more space/bandwidth, and they also provide VPS and dedicated servers if your needs ever grow to be that large.
In short, a great host for now, and a great host for your future needs.