Blogging Basics 101: Hosted or Toasted?

Free blogging package, hosted, or VPS? What’s a blogger to do?

I was speaking to another avid blogger the other day about doing the whole ‘hosted’ thing. (Incidentally, they don’t know anything about my Law Actually blog; they just loosely know that I have a blog floating out there somewhere in cyberspace). There were times particularly in the early days that I regretted going the blogspot route, though I’ve found it’s become less of a problem over time as blogger have added featured and removed the odd niggles. Plus, blogspot, is a convenient and straightforward option and it’s a nice price too – free. You get a lot for your money with Google.

Although I bought a domain for law actually back in April 2008, I already considered it too late to migrate everything over as my PageRank would have taken too much of a hit. Sometimes, I regret that decision and if I were doing it again today, I’d probably suffer the short term pain. As it stands, I just use it to forward to lawactually.blogspot.com.

While blogspot not as readily extensible or customizable as say, Wordpress, it’s cheaper and arguably just as flexible if you a) know what you’re doing and b) have a little spare time to experiment. Blogspot also allows you to use your custom domain whilst still being hosted by blogger free of charge, something Wordpress doesn’t allow you to do.

Interestingly, fellow blawger, Technollama, who last year opted to go the hosted route, suffered an outage a back in February after a couple of blog posts resulted in a spike of traffic his host just couldn’t cope with. The painful upshot being his blog effectively died. I also recently discovered that some hosts are very fussy when it comes to which package they’ll let you buy to host your Wordpress blog with, meaning the cheapest package is often not an option.

While the moral of the story might be to choose your host carefully, there might be a better option. For instance, serious bloggers could always look to VPS Hosting as an alternative. While some bloggers could exist just fine on a shared hosting plan, if you’re seriously hardcore, you may need to move out of a shared environment. Sitting nicely in the middle, though, is an option between shared and dedicated hosting called VPS web hosting (Virtual Private Server) and for some bloggers, it may well be the perfect fit.

3 additional reasons why VPS may be right for you:

1) Need SSH/Root Access – No hosting company is going to let you tinker with the server – there are too many sites that could be affected by that. On a VPS, however, you're separated from other sites, and therefore free to customize your server with software that you want and need.

2) Scalability – if your site is growing, or if you want to add more domains, a shared environment may not be able to accommodate you. Growth, whether it's an e-commerce site or a blog, is a major reason to look into a VPS.

3) Cost – A VPS costs much less than the other robust hosting option, i.e. a dedicated server. Before virtualization software made a VPS possible, shared and dedicated were the only options; now that VPS is out there, you can get many of the best features of dedicated hosting at a fraction of the cost with a VPS.

Comments

  1. There are a number of things that are slightly awkward about Wordpress.com but the big one that got me was that they have a stringent advertising policy (which is important for them as a brand but awkward the user) which is pretty much that you just can't. If you go the hosted wordpress blog route you're going to have trouble getting any money back under the TOS, so it's not for people out to make a profit.

    On the other hand it's an incredibly polished system with pretty epic support and I think they're really pretty good that I've used for a student blog since May 2008 and have never had a problem with, and if you host your own wordpress blog then this does not apply. The blog software, both self hosted and at wordpress.com, is really clever stuff.

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  2. Yeah, I know the wordpress software is very highly rated and makes a lot of blogger's offerings look a touch second-rate. Still, the blogger 'in draft' version (which essentially serves as a channel for upcoming features still in beta) has started to include a few elements which have been MIA up until now.

    I don't think I'll be jumping ship any time soon. :-)

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  3. Blogspot does seem to be the best free blogging platform in terms of customisation - you can customise everything. As far as I'm aware, you can only do the same in the commercial version of Wordpress...

    I'm so used to blogspot, I don't want to change anything! :D The only thing I don't like is the fact that you can't reply to individual comments. Maybe it's a good thing.

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  4. A huge pet peeve of mine is people disable email notifications for new comments on their blogs.

    I tend not to bother even commenting on those... really don't see the point if I can't keep up with the flow of comments. And who has the time to keep re-visiting a blog to check for new comments?! :-[

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