Blog Hosting — Searching an Ultimate Home for Your Blog
Blog hosting is just like your virtual home in the cyberspace. The entire infrastructure, plus the blog platform, is what your home is made of. Most people have preference for one over another.
For instance, when it comes to blog platform, a lot of people who prefer WordPress won’t think twice when they are about to start a new blog. Movable Type may slightly involve a steeper learning curve, in their opinion.
Contrarily, Movable Type fans think WordPress is a bit less flexible. One would not want to quit using the platform of their choice and move to another one.
For blog hosting, it is more forgivable because they are just computers connected to the Internet. Some people prefer Linux hosting while others choose Windows but most likely hosting users won’t be able to tell the difference at all unless they have to connect to the server directly to maintain the server from the command line interface.
Blog hosting providers usually provide web administration interface. This is easy to learn and operate.
However, for power users, they take up memory and processing resources, not to mention that they are possibly at a higher risk to be exploited, from security standpoint.
Most bloggers start with shared hosting and then move to yet another, but better, shared hosting if one company happens to disappoint them. Only when they have grown their traffic level to a point that shared hosting can’t handle it — or the blog hosting company tells them to upgrade or go away — they consider to move to virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server.
This entire web site and blog is run by WordPress. I do a lot of stuff with WordPress nowadays but by no means I think it is suitable for everyone. While with a bit of design and technical knowledge, you would be able to build almost any web site with it, it is less suitable for people who just want to publish their personal thoughts online quickly, for instance.
Why bother learning the whole thing if a more simple and easy to use platform exists?
It becomes more complex if you are building a professional or business blog, of which the blogger will most likely prefer to use standalone / self-hosted hosting and blog platform that supports that.
Deciding otherwise often results in a regret. Many professional bloggers have gone through it, so you don’t have to. (But read the section about hosted blog platform below).
Don’t want to go through all the details? I have created a blog post specifically on how to choose a blog platform.
Cheap Blog Hosting vs Quality
Nowadays you can find great deals on web hosting everywhere. With less than $10 you will be able to transfer thousands of gigabytes of data from and to your blog. Without guessing, the company behind the hosting service is overselling their server resources.
If you need to run Movable Type, WordPress or any other blog software that are developed in PHP or Perl programming languages, and use database backend like MySQL or PostgreSQL, you need more power. A good shared hosting can handle a few hundreds of visitors easily, but there are times when you are bombarded with visits in a short time frame such as when one of your blog posts makes it to the front page of Digg.
Unscrupulous hosting companies go as far as shutting your account down and force you to upgrade first before they allow you to access your data.
Downtime in shared hosting environment is common, although I’ve seen servers that have never rebooted for more than a year. Note: The server software failed to respond a few times during that period but in every case it didn’t need a server reboot.
Consider yourself lucky if you never have server problems at all.
The Benefits of Standalone Blog Platform
In one word, it must be flexibility. WordPress, by far the most popular and commonly used self-hosted blog platform, have thousands of plugins. Extending the functionalities of your blog is often as easy as installing and activating a plugin.
WordPress and Movable Type also enable you to design the layout of your blog or site to resemble a typical web site. There are countless of sites running blog software as content management system (CMS). That makes it easy to manage content.
The thing is, without optimizing it, a standalone blog platform — in this case WordPress, Movable Type generates static files during the publishing process — is usually less than optimal. Although it may take only a fraction of a second to generate a page, there are a lot of overhead and redundancy in code execution and generation.
If you’d prefer optimizing rather than buying a bigger and better server, which may cost hundreds of dollars, fine tuning your server can be very rewarding. Not only because you can improve the response time, but also the good feeling about using server resources efficiently. It is amazing how much you could do with a server if you optimize. For people who care about environment — hey, you should! — that also means less power consumption.
About Hosted Blog Platforms Like Blogger.com
Personally, I think Blogger.com gets a bit of unfair reviews from a lot of bloggers out there. When you read a story, often a blogger started with blogger.com (using whatever.blogspot.com as their blog url at first) and then moved to either Movable Type or WordPress later on.
It is often said as the reason is because Blogger.com can’t support hosting a blog on a blogger’s own domain. Nothing is further from the truth. The feature has been there for years.
Nowadays, Google’s Blogger doesn’t only support publishing to your own domain via FTP publishing, but also SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) and CNAME mapping (DNS mapping).
Note: WordPress.com also has the feature to map an existing domain name for $10/year, excluding the cost for domain name registration.
Back to Blogger.com, if your needs are not particularly complex, it is a powerful yet easy to use solution. The fact that it publishes static files mean that your blog can easily survive any surge of traffic, be it from Digg, Stumble Upon, or other sources, even if you host it on a shared hosting environment — it has to be a good one though.
Try this for a standalone WordPress installation without any optimization. You would crash your server in no time because of the cost of MySQL queries and PHP execution, which are memory and resource intensive.
Add to the fact that Blogger.com maintains everything for you, this solution may be more suitable for some bloggers. If you research a bit before starting your blog, you should have saved a lot of time in the process.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand about your options. If you’re still confused, feel free to continue here for web hosting reviews.
Return to Blog Tips for a Better Blog — Blog Building University.