Web hosting tips solicited

Hi Everyone,

First post here – hoping to get some good advice. Here goes……

I need to set up a website for myself, for several purposes. Firstly to advertise my services as an experienced English Language teacher, secondly as an academic proofreader, thirdly to advertise my design projects (mostly epoxy resin so far), which I hope eventually to be able to turn into my main profession/activity, and finally just to have a blog for writing about whatever is on my mind at any given time.

I do have a reasonable amount of experience with web design, albeit a long time ago, and I’ll definitely need to brush up a bit. I had a web management job for a couple of years around 2010, which involved mainly using ModX (I wonder whether that even still exists!!!) I’m also not afraid of Linux servers, so I think I’ll be happy enough starting from scratch with a server and a CMS, even if it takes a bit longer. I was thinking first about taking the lazy option of using a company like Squarespace or Wix, but I’m now inclined against that by the thought that they’re probably pretty inflexible about expanding the space once you’re locked in. That plus the fact that for sure they’re presumably much more expensive and (I assume) it’s really difficult to migrate your site elsewhere once you’ve set it up with them. Please correct me if my assumptions are incorrect, but I think I’m better off trusting myself to be able to do it myself, and to have the flexibility.

OK, so here’s what I envisage at first. I’m OK with just the one domain (no need to multiply costs), but I guess I’d be wanting to have subdomains (teaching.abcxyz.com, proofreading.abcxyz.com, blog.abcxyz.com and design.abcxyz.com to start with, and maybe more later if I think of them). Possibly I would want each subdomain to be on a different CMS, just to keep things nice and clean, and to make it easier to differentiate them (but I don’t know if this would make sense – let me know please!!!) So I need a provider that is OK for that, and also flexible on space. I don’t expect to use a lot of space to start with, but maybe I’ll want to add demo videos later. So I need to have the option of scaling up the space. Also of course I need the right CMS. Not sure that Wordspace is up to all of what I’ve described, but again please correct me if that’s unfair. Needless to say that e-commerce is also going to be necessary at some point, but should I assume that all comes as standard these days?

Well, thanks for reading if you’ve got this far. I guess I would just appreciate pointers to the right CMS and a few suggestions about where to get webspace (I’m in the UK, by the way, if that is at all relevant to the decision).

  1. CMS #1. If you do not want to be a web developer, I suggest WordPress. Good enough and tons of sources for helping you out.

  2. CMS #2 There is a more environment friendly CMS - Hugo - that claims to be the fastest CMS available. Smaller footprint and faster than WordPress. Using less resources and you can use smaller VPS.

  3. Hosting #1. You could give IONOS or UpCloud a try. You get a VPS for 1 GBP to 7 EUR a month that should be enough for hosting one single site with some sub domains. And use Cloudflare as a proxy to speed it up. Cloudflare also has a cheap domains for sale. Managing subdomains is very easy at Cloudflare. VPS + Cloudflare is harder to set up but gives you more freedom.

  4. Hosting #2. A regular hosting with mail account etc. Way simpler, but more limited. Others may have good suggestions for this path as I have left this train several years ago.

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Haha, MODx does seem to still be around. There are so many CMSs out there. A lot that used to require payment now have a free tier, like ExpressionEngine and Craft, so they are worth checking out.

I think most web hosts would cater for what you described. Whether you really need a CMS or not is up to you, but in a way they have similar lock-in issues as hosted solutions like Squarespace, although in a different way.

Hi, and thanks for replying so fast!

In what way? I’m guessing that you mean that they lure you in with a completely free package, but then start to charge you once you need something very specific to plug into it. Well, of course it’s been a long time since I was in this game, so forgive any naive questions.

Hi, and thanks very much for replying in so much detail. There’s lots to take in here, so I’ll come back with more questions when I’ve had a look at all this!

Sorry, I probably used the wrong wording. I just mean that each CMS works differently, and your code and content are often broken into many pieces that aren’t easy to transfer to another system. So if you start with WordPress, you essentially have to rebuild your whole site if you want to transfer it to another CMS (or maybe try your luck with some script that allegedly does that for you).

Don’t be afraid to ask naive questions. Those are the only ones I can answer. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I would recommend Infinityfree for hosting. They support PHP and MySQL and give you 5 gigabytes of storage on their servers, and (the best part) is that you get all that for free! You can purchase a domain, configure domain extensions (example I purchased example.com I can configure test.example.com for free).
If you don’t want to pay for a domain, they’ve still got you covered: they have purchased certain domains, which you can get extensions of for free. For example, I can get all these domains for free:


Seriously, I’m not affiliated with Infinityfree in any way, but they’re epic!

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Ha, don’t worry, I prefer to believe in most people’s essential truthfulness, otherwise it’s all just toooooooo depressing! I’ll have a look at them. Hopefully I’ll get a few more comments yet, so I can take stock of all that in a day or two :smiley:

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Hey, I’ve just been having a look at this, and took one of the lovestoblog.com domains, which I’ll play around with for a bit to see what I think. Well, it seems quite nice, but I’m just wondering what’s in it for these guys!

I tried a free .tk tld. And when it expired, I had to pay for it. As I forgot to renew it (no reminder). So the free domain was not free anymore :slight_smile:

Now I pay $10 a year for .org from Cloudflare.

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That sounds plausible!!! Well, I’m still looking at your earlier recommendations, and I’ll be back in a couple of days :smiley:

I think there’s a saying about free and lunch… it still applies :wink:

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You have taken a subdomain on the top-level domain lovestoblog.com from InfinityFree.

I have had a similar subdomain from InfinityFree since November 2019. It is still active and, as far as I am aware, it will not expire.

Your subdomain is probably very poor for SEO.

Also I have had some indication that visitors to a website on a free subdomain may get a security warning from their antivirus software.

The free subdomains and free website hosting are great for messing about, especially as PHP and MySQL are supported. As you wish to advertise your services in due course you will need your own top-level domain for search engines.

They want to sell you their ‘Premium Hosting’ :grinning:.

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I’ve been using Infinityfree for over a year with no renewing (or any) problems. In terms of “what’s in it for them”, they put ads on their site and control panel.


Yeah, okay, I got it. Just for messing around, experimenting. That’s fine!

I’ll get on it soon! I need to come back and read all the comments properly in order to decide what to go for!

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I have no affiliations whatsoever but can recommend Hostpresto.com, a UK based company. I have a plan which is 6 GBP per month and allows for hosting 3 domains, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage and multiple databases. Since I have multiple databases I can host multiple Wordpress installations. Includes PHP and MySQL / MariaDB. The tech support is 24 / 7 telephone but I use the online support and they usually reply within a few hours. You also get free SSL certificates, free automatic backup of site and databases. I have been using for 2 years plus now and am most happy. I believe they also do a 9 GBP per month pack that allows unlimited domains and I think a 3 GBP per month pack that allows 1 domain


I’ll have to take your word for it!

And how about subdomains? That’s pretty important for my plan, I guess. I only need one domain, but (relatively) limitless subdomains are going to be a must. Four subdomains to start with, but I’ll probably think of others eventually!

Well, maybe I don’t need to be too fussed about databases for the time being. An earlier comment directed me towards Hugo, which I hadn’t heard of at all and which I still need to play around with, but anyway there’s no need for any PHP with that. I’m not planning any fancy e-commerce stuff as yet, so…

OK, the SSL certificate thing is useful, for sure. Is that not standard with the other servers like Upcloud and Ionos?

As for backup, I think that I’ve got just enough Linux knowledge to figure that out by myself, but maybe I’m overestimating myself!

Thanks for all your help anyway. I guess I need a bit more time to digest all the suggestions!

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Well, I have flirted with going deeper from time to time. I learned a reasonable amount of PHP and MySQL at one point, and I know a little Python. But I doubt that I’ll be attempting at any time in the near future to do jobs for anyone other than myself.

Well, I’ve been having a look at what this is. I had never heard of it at all (shows how long I’ve been away from this stuff), and I suppose I need a little more time to understand conceptually how it works. I haven’t tried installing it locally yet but I’ll get around to it hopefully this week some time. I suppose my biggest question is how easy it is to use it in the way that you can just quickly post something (a blog post, say) on a CMS.

I’ve seen IONOS advertising on TV (a very annoying ad, in fact, but I suppose it’s one of those that is more memorable for being annoying!), and never heard of UpCloud. The measure of how clueless I was about all this is that I hadn’t heard of Cloudfare. I got another comment about hostpresto.com, which provides SSL certificates. I suppose that there’s some advantage to a holistic approach (right?) rather than having different things dealt with in different places. Or am I wrong about that, and better to assign each job to the best place?

I’ll admit that I’m slightly intimidated by the idea of setting it all up the way you said with VPS and Cloudfare as proxy (no idea how that works - looking at Wikipedia while writing this!) How much would I be paying Cloudfare for being the proxy, and errrr (I need to try to formulate my question in a non-stupid manner!) … in layman’s terms would this mean that Cloudfare is the first port of call for a visitor to the site, kind of just an online signpost, and that the VPS would be functioning effectively as the storage space? And if I’m going for this method, would the SSL certificates be provided by the VPS or the proxy, or does it not matter? And would it matter if I got the domain name itself from yet another place??? Sorry if the questions are badly formed, as well as being too many, but it’s quite a lot to consider from the outset.

I suppose that that is more or less what hostpresto.com offers. Not sure about the mail part - I guess I can ask.

Do I take it that the VPS + Proxy route involves setting up your own mail server? I guess that could be quite a job, right?

Once again, sorry for any dumb questions. I suppose that I shouldn’t apologise, because I wouldn’t be here if I knew what I was doing, but of course I’m British, so deeply programmed to say “sorry” for everything :face_with_peeking_eye:

And do you like challenges? If not, use WordPress. If you want a bit more challenge, try Hugo.

Hugo is built using Go. Which means that the “engine” is compiled and hence faster, smaller and uses less resources. It is not a mainstream CMS. And works in a bit different way. No database used AFAIK.

All the traffic goes through Cloudflare. A guard sort of. It is the most used CDN (Meaning that your site is cached all over the word in order to load faster). But Cloudflare also have a “simple” certificate service that is installed by one button, sort of.

I have not heard of any “web host” that has a built in CDN. Maybe Google, but their CDN and hosting are different products. And generally speaking, many things on the web today consists of many pieces. I prefer to separate the butcher from the chef.

I use the free tier, so this may be affordable to you also :slight_smile:

Sort of. You can look at Cloudflare as wall that surround an old village. And only have one guarded gate. How you build your house within the village does not matter.

You can buy both domain and SSL from anywhere. And you can omit Cloudflare. If you must make your life more exiting.

Normally the VPS does not provide any SSL. You can handle this manually OR let the Cloudflare one-button SSL take care of it.

Yes, an own mail servers is a real challenge. Or you can use a separate mail hosting service.

Sorry if my answers is not clear enough (Sorry, I am not British)

I don’t mind an intellectual challenge, for sure, as long as you and others will be around to help out from time to time :grimacing:

Yes, I’ve already been reading a bit about Hugo. I got the idea. Instead of dynamically generated pages coming out of the database, a site of static pages which is entirely regenerated every time you change something on there. And yes, I’m curious enough to want to have a go at it!

OK, a Content Delivery Network :man_student: - a note to self, mainly! I’m starting from a place of relatively sparse recent knowledge!

***Free*** is very reasonable pricing, yes indeed :+1: Again, though, my immediate question has to be what’s in it for them. Are they profiting like Google and Meta, by hoovering up our information and building up a massive database? Or is it just the calculation that my site will one day be big enough to have need of their paid services? Maybe both those things, I guess, can be the answer to my question!