So please help me into the Internet age

So I’ve gone ahead and registered a domain name (4 actualy, three for a certian page I want to start and one for my name, my real name that is).

So what do I do next to build a page, I know I need hosting but I have no real sense of what that is or what I’ll need from a hosting provider, I’ll need some kind of software to build and edit web pages but I have no idea what to get. What’s the next step to build a page and have people be able to access it?

Well what kind of page do you want to build? You coudl use a content thing like PostNuke or Wordpress (blog software) or Movable Type, or you could open up notepad and start typing in the HTML. There are also a few HTML programs like Frontpage (blech) or Dreamweaver (nice).

Figure out what kind of usage you’ll expect. I recommend http://www.2mhost.com/ , and a lot of people on this board will recommend poehosting.com .

Once you get your hosting set up, it should have allt he shit installed on a bunch of directories, whatever is in the /www directory is what will be accessible through WWW.

If you don’t know your HTML from your FTP, starting off with something like typepad might be an easier way to go.

I decided to set up hosting yesterday (primarily because I got scared at the prospect of having no working e-mail when my school f’d up how long my account was supposed to have until it decayed). I checked multiple places, and ended up going to dreamhost.com. They registered my domain name for me, let me map 2 names to my space, gave me 4.8 GB of storage and something like 120GB/month of bandwidth, and gave me two years of service for $100 (although I guess I’ll have to pay a bit extra to extend my name registration past the first year).

My main requirements were secure e-mail access. YMMV, of course. Setting up the e-mail accounts has been utterly painless so far. One day maybe I’ll even get around to actually setting up a real website of some type.

Is Dreamhost one of those places that actually charges you on a month-month basis, as opposed to fooling you into thinking your paying a monthy fee but instead just divides the lump payment into 12?

No clue… I’d imagine they do charge month to month, but I had no interest in that. Seemed foolish to pay $8/month + a setup fee when I could pay $100 for two years of service.

I’m not exactly sure how paying a lump fee one month at a time isn’t paying a monthly fee, either. Unless you mean “can you truly go month to month, or do you have to buy a year of service at a time, at which point you can choose to pay monthly or up front”. The former, if I read their site correctly, but I have no firsthand experience.

It’s a question of commitment; if you were simply paying a monthly fee for space, you’d be able to back out at any time losing no more than one month’s fees.

As others have said, it depends on what kind of page you want. But yeah, Step #2 wil be to get hosting. I use Verve Hosting (http://www.vervehosting.com/) for my two blogs, though I hear good things about Dreamhost, too. There are actually several threads on QT3 where people talk about hosting services they’d recommend. Do a search for those if you want more opinions.

(By the way, you could have handled the “Resever domain names” at this step, too. Most (all?) hosts will register one for you and handle the renewals along with the other stuff. But you’re still fine, as they’ll also handle things if you already have a domain.)

Most hosts offer a variety of payment plans and options. The more bandwidth (this is roughly the same thing as traffic for your purposes at this point), storage space, and other features (think SQL databases, extra e-mail accounts, etc.) you want, the more you’ll have to pay. My advice: Start bare bones and upgrade if you find you need to. Upgrading is usually seamless and as easy as sending an e-mail to the host.

Most hosts offer a variety of billing plans, ranging from monthly to quarterly to annually. You may get price breaks with quarterly or annual billing.

Step #3 will depend entirely on what kind of site you want. If it’s just a blog, go with a blogging content management system. I’m a fan of Movable Type (Movable Type - Content Management System, Blog Software & Publishing Platform), but others like DrCrypt have recommended Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/). These are free blogging tools or content management systems that allow you to set up a blog, make new entries, and maintain archives of old entries. They come with default templates that you can get up and running very quickly if you don’t mind them. Again, there are several QT3 threads debating this topic. Here are 3 sites I’ve created using Movable Type:

http://www.jmadigan.net
http://www.selectionmatters.com
http://www.sdiop.org

The only thing that can be tricky is that you have to install them on your website, which takes an FTP program (available for free on places like download.com), knowledge of how to use it, and substantial skill at following the written directions. If you can’t pull it off, Movable Type offers an installation service for a fee, or you can use one of their paid services like TypePad (same URL). Not sure about WordPress.

Step #3b is customizing the blog templates if you don’t like the defaults. By and large, this will require knowing or learning basic to intermediate HTML and CSS, though. There are many books and online resources for this.

Step #5 is MASSIVE PROFITS.

Dreamhost has gone down unexpectedly twice in the past week, both coinciding with critical rollouts with lots of customer attention. Last week their root cause, provided only after I requested one, was “because of the OS upgrade”. Having spent time in the IT world and in customer service before that, this response was a culture shock for me.

So I’m curious to find out if anyone else has been having DH problems and what they are doing about it. At this point I’ve begun to look around for alternatives. Would appreciate input on good experiences, if anyone has any. Disaster Recovery options are also likely to become a requirement in the near future, and hosting costs are likely to become less of a concern in the next few months.

I’d suggest buying the O’Reilly (X)HTML quick reference booklet, no matter
what you end up using, plus any relatively large book on (X)HTML.
CSS is nice to get some basic knowledge of, also. Helps you avoid making
frame-based abominations :)