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Finding a Website Host

What kind of website am I making?

When searching for a host for your website, the first question you should ask yourself is what kind of website you will be making. Different kinds of websites will require different kinds of webhosts.

A fansite is better off with a paid hosting provider - or a free hosting provider that caters specifically to fansites. These are quite easy to find since you can usually just search for "free fansite hosts".

A personal blog or collective is a bit more lenient. Depending on what you'll be doing with it, you could choose any type of host. If you think you might host other people, go with paid hosting and purchase a reseller or shared server. If you go with the reseller, you'll want to charge people for certain packages.

A design site should be on a private server. Most people with personal domains will be happy to host them.

Is it worth it to pay for hosting?

This question is a bit ambiguous. If you're looking to make a fansite, it depends on how dedicated you are to the fansite topic - but I'd advise you to just choose a free fansite host since they're pretty flexible and you might get a free domain out of it.

If you already own a personal domain, paid hosting is optional. You really only have to pay if you wish to host others. If you have no desire to do so, then go with a privately-owned hosting company that offers free plans. If you do want to host others, then search for companies that have plans within your budget.

Advertisements

The main reason anyone would choose the paid hosting route is because they want to get rid of the advertisements. Most people can tolerate a small link back to the hosting provider, but huge banner and pop-up ads are absolutely ridiculous. Make sure to research the marketing and advertising policies of your chosen hosting provider if you go with paid hosting. You don't want to waste money on a company that will make you clutter your website with their advertisements.

Advertisements are required on free fansite hosts. They usually list their advertising policies inside their hosting terms and conditions - you won't have to worry much there.

When it comes to personal sites, most privately-owned domains will be okay with a small text link mentioning that they're hosting you. There's no need for large banner advertisements. You can typically remove the link altogether if you pay your host, but make sure to check whether or not they'll allow you to remove the link back if you pay.

When paying for your host, you also gain the ability to use your own personal advertisements - just make sure that you follow the ad networks policy.

Adult Content

Some people will pay for hosting in order to post adult content on their websites. The worst thing you can do, though, is assume that everything that qualifies is allowed. Before posting any kind of mature/adult content, familiarize yourself with the host's policy regarding content. For example, my own host doesn't allow the following:
  • Pornography
  • Torrent Sites
  • Image Hosting Scripts (similar to imgur, photobucket, and tinypic)
  • Proxy Scripts
  • Stolen Content
  • Hateful/Racist/Harassment sites
  • Inappropriate/Disturbing Content/Images
  • Video/Music files (please contact, exceptions can be made)
  • Copyrighted Materials
Make sure that your site content is in line with what is allowed by your preferred hosting provider. Also, make sure that you understand "Fair Use" laws if your going to be posting materials that aren't completely original.