For a lot of new businesses and developers, some hosting options can be overkill. Maybe you just want to test out your code first and make sure nothing breaks before committing to the best web hosting solutions. Before contemplating your options with a fine comb and forking out the money for top notch hosting services, let’s take a look at some affordable hosting solutions that will get your site up quickly so you can start testing.
Static or dynamic
What kind of website you have plays a pretty big role in what kind of hosting you could benefit from to test out your code. While websites come in all shapes and sizes, they can ultimately be divided into two types: static and dynamic.
A static website only consists of HTML files that represent the physical pages of a website. So when you visit the homepage of a static website, you are viewing the actual homepage file. It’s pretty straightforward and was how most websites were initially built during the nascent years of the world wide web.
A dynamic website has HTML files, of course, but also makes use of server technologies such as PHP to dynamically build a webpage when a user visits the page. What’s happening behind the scenes when a user goes to a web address is the server is finding different bits and pieces of information that it then writes into a cohesive webpage, which is what the user sees. Dynamic websites deal with more flexible data and can utilize things like databases.
Cheap or free static website hosting
- Github pages: Whether you’re learning to code, or just need a fast, easy, and free way to host your projects, Github Pages is a great solution. Github has been around for awhile. In a nutshell, it’s a website and service that provides an open-source, version control system, aka Git. When developers create a website or application and need to make constant changes to their code, Git allows them to release new versions up to and after the first official release. Developers can also store their projects on Github and review the open-source projects of others, making it a great dev community.
Github will host your static site for free using a custom domain. This is a good option mostly for developers, as it requires having knowledge of and using Git. To publish a website, you simply create a git repository, add your files to it, and then push your updates to Github’s copy. One setback using the free version is that your website is open-source by default. You can also create a private repository by upgrading your account.
- Amazon’s web services offer a powerful infrastructure for hosting a static website by using their AWS S3 service. The first year is free and after that, it’s only pennies a month. Most hosting providers charge a monthly flat rate fee and put a limit on resources such as bandwidth or file space. With AWS, there is no upper-end cap, making it easy to scale. They charge by usage, perfect for a small site to test out your code! Their interface can be a little confusing to navigate, but they have some handy tutorials if you’re not as tech-savvy.
Cheap or Free Dynamic Website Hosting
Hosting a dynamic website might not be as cheap and plentiful as a static site, but there are still some affordable and even free options you can make use of for your next project.
- Digital Ocean: For only $5 bucks a month, you can launch all kinds of environments and test things out with full root access fairly quickly using hosting platform Digital Ocean, an American cloud infrastructure provider headquartered in New York City. It’s also very easy to scale your environment up or down if you require more computing power.
- Firebase: Firebase Hosting is ideal for web developers looking to test their code. It offers production-level web content hosting so you can easily deploy static content or web applications to a global content delivery network.
With Firebase, you get a secure connection, fast content delivery, rapid deployment, and one-click rollbacks to undo mistakes. You can also store and sync your app’s data with their NoSQL cloud-hosted database.
- InMotion: For the non-devs out there, InMotion is one of the largest independent web hosting companies in the world and is a great hosting solution whether you’re looking to test your website or not. They’ve been around since 2001 and offer very affordable solutions.
InMotion offers all accounts with a temporary URL that you can use to test your website if your website’s domain name is not yet pointing to their servers. This is a nice option to have and lets you essentially test-drive their platform to see if it fits your needs.
There are tons of web hosting solutions out there that make testing easy. The best one for you really depends on what kind of website you have, the requirements it will need to get it running, and how tech savvy you are. Some platforms, like AWS, GitHub Pages, or Heroku, might be more tricky to navigate if you aren’t a programmer. But remember that there are many popular hosting providers like InMotion who are much more user friendly and even offer customer support.