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Choosing a Web Host: A Guide for Lefties

Posted on December 21, 2010 by ari

If you want a carbon-neutral, worker-owned, ultra-progressive web host, you’re not alone. I’d love to get our site hosted on a handcrafted biodegradeable server powered by wooden windmill, personally! After interacting with many web hosts and registrars, here are our picks for top lefty services.

  1. Dreamhost – employee-owned, carbon-neutral (via reducing consumption, purchasing Renewable Energy Credits, invested in offsets, member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership program). They charge $8.95/month so be prepared to spend a little over $100 a year for a single website and domain (a free domain registration is included for the life of your account). Discounts are available if you pre-pay for multiple years in advance. This is a very easy-to-use hosting service; WordPress can be installed with just a couple of clicks. This makes it a very handy option for those who have less experience with techie stuff. Later you might find yourself wanting multiple sites and you may find that extra fees make this option too expensive – that could be a good time to move to May First.
  2. May First / People Link describe themselves as radical techie progressive hosting providers, and our experience with them has been that that is very true. They charge individuals $100 per year and organizations $200 per year for membership, which comes with hosting and technical support for as many sites as you want, with WordPress or Drupal on them if you like. They don’t handle domain registration, which can be set up first with Dreamhost or another registrar. (You would then update your DNS at Dreamhost so your domain points to your site on May First’s server.) This option is best for folks with some experience with SFTP, file permissions, updating DNS entries, and other techie stuff. It is an ideal solution for those who have or intend to have multiple websites.

Thanks to May First for hosting Shirari.com and our other websites not hosted by WordPress – I’ve found these folks to be really genuine human beings who care about the same issues I do, which means a lot in these days of corporate culture and cookie-cutter “customer service”; and communications. (Hm, that is a lot of words beginning with C. That was unintentional.)

What do all of these words mean??

Web hosts a.k.a. hosting companies, are the folks running servers. Servers are computers that are on all the time. Your website’s files are stored there so people can access them 24/7. You should choose a host that can handle the kind of software you want to use – for instance, you can find hosts that are approved by WordPress. You pay for hosting on a monthly basis but many hosts allow you to pre-pay for a year’s service (or more), which can save you money and bother. Hosting can be really cheap; pay attention to companies’ politics and environmental and business practices to make sure you’re choosing a company you really want to support.

Domain registrars are the folks who reserve websites’ custom web addresses. If you want your website to be accessible at MyAwesomeNewSite.com you would register that with a registrar, and pay a yearly fee, usually $10-$20.

Some companies (like Dreamhost) can both register your domain and host your website. This can be really convenient, though some say it reduces your control over your web presence to give one company so much power. Personally, I choose an ethical company that can handle both if possible, and I figure they’ll do right by me. You have to decide what’s right for you given your privacy and autonomy concerns.

See also: Choosing between Facebook Pages, Groups, and Causes

Related posts:

  1. Choosing between Facebook Pages, Groups, and Causes
  2. Choosing a printer – and whether to print at all | Shirari Industries

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