self-host for free

29/08/2010

with a little thought, i have found a way to get sites hosted online for free. there is a catch, the url of the resulting site isn’t user-friendly, it will look something like this:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/lotsofnumbershere/your_account/index.html

also i’m not sure about the bandwidth limitations if you’re looking for viewing rates of say, a few thousand a month, so this won’t be a true public website.

however, if you’re looking to create an online cv or portfolio, then this is perfect. the chances of someone finding or even looking for your url are minimal, so you can put up data that you are happy to share with clients or employers etc, give them the url + thus private access to your fully working site.
the best thing is that this is quite easy to do + only takes five or ten minutes.

step 1
sign up for a dropbox account here. you’ll need to download the software + set up your account, i advise watching the video to better understand the concept. it’s a great little program + i would suggest it to anyone.

step 2
once that’s all done, go to your new dropbox folder. inside it there will be a public folder, go into this + create a new folder which you should name in relation to your website, eg ‘web’.

step 3
now i’ve done this with iWeb, it may be different with other programs, but basically you’ll want to change your web making programs host folder for the site. obviously you’ll have had to make + save your website first.

go into iWeb + click on the site folder in the sidebar which brings you to the screen above. under ‘publishing’, click the ‘publish to’ dropdown + select ‘local folder’, also enter your site name + email. in the ‘folder location’, click ‘choose’ + select the folder you made in the public folder of your dropbox folder in step 2. in the example below i’ve named mine ‘krae_on’.

step 4
you’re nearly finished. make sure you’re connected to the internet, go back to iWeb + click ‘publish site’ from the bottom task bar of the program. this will now publish the folder to your online dropbox cloud, + should take a couple of minutes depending on connection speed + the size of your site.

step 5
once that’s done, go to your dropbox account online. go into your public folder, then the folder you created in step 2, + within that folder there will be an ‘index.html’ file. click on the drop down next to it + select ‘copy public link:’.

it will bring up a box with a url in it which should look a little like what i put at the start of this post. this is what you will give to people to allow them to see + use your site, but before you go giving this out, copy it + go back to iWeb. in the large empty box which says ‘website url’ paste this link + re-save + publish. doing this makes sure that all the links + images work properly.

step 6
use the url to go + admire your handiwork. this could be used to show clients commissioned websites before they’re sent for being properly hosted, or as a cv/portfolio to show employers etc.

it’s not a solution, but it’s great for what it is, + is a great way for testing + sharing ideas before you shell out for a proper domain :)

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One Response to “self-host for free”


  1. Good times – definitely a good option for anyone who hasn’t got any hosting at the moment and wants to get something online quick. You should be able to insert Meta Data into the html on your index page so that the URL would be searchable in a search engine anyway. Aslong as your content is worth reading, people will visit, regardless of URL address. A great domain name does make a difference however. You would need a seperate webserver to re-write the URL (‘http://dl.dropbox.com/u/lotsofnumbershere/your_account/index.htm’) to a custom domain. This not very simple… a lot of work really.. don’t know whether it’s worth it when you consider the bandwidth limitations? This is definitely a very simple way of setting up your own server however! WOOP WOOP


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