In addition to Dreamhost's free offerings, it's worth mentioning that they just started doing managed WordPress hosting, called "DreamPress": www.dreamhost.com/dreampress
If you use WordPress for your organization and need a high-performance WP site, I'd recommend giving them a try. Very affordable - I use it for my own site, and I've always had positive experiences with Dreamhost.
Just wanted to mention that the service that I referred to (DreamPress) is $16/mo for a limited time.
I'm Andy Adams: Web consultant and founder of Whistling Duck, a simple non profit donor database.
What is "managed WordPress hosting"?
Also, I'm leary of any offers of free web hosts - I've heard from too many nonprofits left in the lurch when the company that offered the free hosting goes away, or won't let the organization move the site to a different host, or won't let the organization change the domain name, or won't let the organization change the content themselves, whenever they want. What protections do organizations having using a "managed WordPress hosting" against these kinds of things?
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
I would like to address Jayne's concerns about having your site "held hostage" or otherwise less under your control than you would like.
There are really two main parts to any web site that you need to understand so that you can maintain control when things happen that you were not expecting:
1) The domain name. This is your "address", but unlike a home that you can move and it's address changes, the domain name is more like your phone number that you can change locations or phone companies and the number can stay with you (in most cases).
Your domain name will work for your site no matter where you are located on the Internet. As such, it is the single most important thing to maintaining your web site. You don't really ever "own" a domain, you just rent it by the year. You should have 100% control over your domain and don't let someone else be the registrant of it. Have the other contacts listed on your domain someone that you trust and make sure the information for all the contacts is current. Check them at least once a year and make sure the contact emails work. If you miss email notifications, you could lose your domain.Some hosting providers offer a free domain name with their hosting packages, but may point out restrictions should you want to cancel or move to another provider.
2) Your web site. All your site consists of really is a bunch of files for the pages, images, and scripts. There may also be one or more databases. All of these files are located on a computer that is your web server. There are a number of ways in which you have have a copy of these files on your computer or on many computers and this offers you backup copies that can protect your site from being lost, should something happen to the web server.
Since you have all of the files from your web site (and if you don't you need to find out why - ASAP) you have the power to get another hosting account and upload your files so that your web site can be moved if you need to. Once the files are in place correctly, there is a setting you can make with your domain to "point" it to the new web server and then your site move is complete!
Some free hosts may offer you templates or a CMS (content management system) for your site. These can be tempting, but they may not work with another hosting provider so check into that first.
Using one provider for your domain name registration and web hosting means that should there be a problem or dispute, you may not have the control you need to move your site to another provider. It is rare these days, but it can happen.
With anyone that provides free hosting, you need to keep in mind the two parts of your site and ask if you are lacking control in any area?
- If you lose your domain then you may still have your files and can host elsewhere, but you will need to get another domain and may lose traffic that is still looking for you at the old domain.
- If you lose your free hosting, but have your domain, then it's less of a problem to set up the site somewhere else and change the domain settings for the new host.
Given that you can get a nice shared hosting account starting at $2-$5 a month, there is really no reason to take on the risk of free hosting UNLESS it is with a larger provider such as DreamHost. Read and understand the terms and you may have no problems. If your NP doesn't feel it can afford the hosting fees, then try to find a larger ISP that has a program to support NPs like yours.
Sorry, I should have clarified. When you install WordPress on a regular web host, you're not running WordPress on an optimal environment. If your site is low-traffic, you are probably OK. But if you get lots of visitors or expect spikes in traffic (say you're running a 24-hour fundraiser) WordPress can choke if it's not running on the right hardware.
That's where DreamHost comes in - "Managed WordPress hosting" means that DreamHost manages all of the difficult parts of hosting a WordPress site in a highly optimized way. It gets kinda technical, but they manage things such as caching and asset (image) hosting for you, so you don't ever have to worry about your site slowing down or crashing. It's a "peace of mind" for people who don't have the know-how or time to optimize their server for WordPress.
Finally, to address your concerns about holding content hostage - on most major providers, this won't be an issue. With WordPress especially, you always have access to your content, and if you're running on DreamHost, you have full access (over FTP) to all of the files on your installation. So, should you decide to pick up and move somewhere else, you're absolutely able to.
Domains can also be transferred to different hosts, and DreamHost makes it pretty easy (it's a bit of a process to switch registrars, no matter what). But you even have the option of keeping DreamHost as your domain registrar while hosting your website elsewhere. It's kinda confusing if you don't know all of the pieces, but the short of it is that you have full control over everything you own with DreamHost (and most other respectable hosts).
I hope that clarifies!
" the domain name is more like your phone number that you can change locations or phone companies and the number can stay with you (in most cases)."
If you own the domain name. I've talked to a few individuals and nonprofits that wanted to move their web site, including the domain name, to another host, and the host said that they couldn't take the domain name - that the web host owned it, and would keep it. They came to me for help and, when I looked at the WhoIs database, the domain name was registered to the web host, NOT to the person or nonprofit that thought they owned it.
And Andy, thanks for the clarification. What would "high traffic" be? 1000 visitors a day?
That's one of the more important points I was trying to make with my long post.
"You should have 100% control over your domain and don't let someone else be the registrant of it."
Many hosting plans some with a "free domain name" but as once happened to me it turned out that the hosting company registered the domain for me, but not in my name. When I wanted to move my site they informed me I would have to pay $30 to keep my domain.
The problem is that these providers do not make it clear what their terms are and surprise people all the time with this nonsense. In my case I raised hell with them and told them I would post about my bad experience with their company. They realized that the $10 price they paid for the domain was not worth $$$ in bad publicity and released the domain to me.
Don't get a domain name from the same place where you host your site. You may never have a problem but if you do you will greatly regret not taking this simple piece of advice. :-)
Now that you ask, I realize that "high traffic" is pretty ambiguous even to me :). Most developers wouldn't consider a site high-traffic until they were seeing 1 million visitors per month.
However, as an unoptimized WordPress site begins to hit the 1,000 visitors per day mark, you're going to see usage spikes during the day. If your site is utilizing proper caching and is serving images efficiently, you won't see any slowdowns. If you're running on a shared host and you get 3 visitors at the same instant, they all might see a degraded experience - slow load times, timeouts, etc.
So my statement about high-traffic was only partly correct. Managed WP hosting also can benefit lower-traffic sites by providing a consistently fast experience even during periods of higher traffic. Let me know if any of that doesn't make sense :).
Thanks, Andy and Christian, for replying - and letting me push you a little bit so I can make sure everything is clear to the various nonprofit folks who, like me, are not-so-techie.
I've been building websites for non-profits for a couple years now and build them on dreamhost because of this. you get a free domain name and hosting for life. pretty nice. You just have to submit your 501c3 determination letter.
2719 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood FL 33020
For verified and dreamhost - approved 501c3 non profits, yes, they get free hosting.
I also recommend checking out this post:
List of Companies Offering Free Web Hosting to 501(c)(3) Nonprofits and other Charities
Yann ToledanoForum Moderator, TechSoup.orgDigital Marketing ConsultantYTConsulting.com@MarketingYann
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