There are a few new ways to get a website up on the internet without having to pay for additional hosting.
Now, these solutions are for those that want to create and maintain their own site from scratch, they are not based on a Content Management System like WordPress, so they may not be for everyone.
One reason that I can see that I will use this feature is for legacy or historical content. If I have created a new site, and I have some old pages with static HTML, I could quickly publish them. (Of course there are a few challenges to this – getting any links to the old content redirected, and then getting the content showing up in search engines).
So here are some of the options:
Today, Google announced the Site Publishing feature of Google Drive.
This is so simple and it takes a few minutes to get a site up. However, you can’t have a custom URL for the site (you could redirect, but it would still end at the site with the very long and ugly URL).
And remember that you can install the Google Drive app to your PC or Mac so that you can drag and drop files into the folder on your desktop.
It is unfortunate that you can not edit the HTML files directly in the Google Docs interface. (if you are using Chrome, you can drag and drop files into the web browser, but annoyingly it does not overwrite files of the same name).
UPDATE: I love being wrong about this sort of thing and finding new ways to do things. There are a heap of plugins for Google Drive that you can use to view HTML files and edit both HTML and text files. Have you tried any? Let us know in the comments.
There are a number of solutions for doing a similar thing with Dropbox.
The quick-and-dirty way is explained here – Just place the HTML files in Public folder, generate a unique link to the main page (eg index.html) and there you have it! Great for a very simple site. Again, here is one I prepared earlier.
As with Google Drive you can’t edit the HTML files on the website, so just drag and drop the files into the folder on your desktop.
Other Dropbox solutions
There are other tools that work with Dropbox also. These are a bit more structured, have themes that you can choose from (which makes it a mobile friendly site also), and some have custom URLs/
http://scriptogr.am/ is an interesting one as it allows for editing in Markdown, which is a great way to make HTML when you don’t want to write out all those tags. James Dellow uses Scritpogram for his blog and wrote about the reasons why.
We are heading into the more geeky territory here, and this one doesn’t really qualify because it’s not free – but Amazon S3 storage is cheap, especially for very large volumes of data.
Here is slide deck with a bit more information on how to use Amazon S3 for web hosting. The full documentation is at http://docs.amazonwebservices.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/VirtualHosting.html
This one was recommended to me by Will Hughes (@willhughes) and it would appeal to developers, but you don’t have to have a Github account to use GitPages. To me it looks a little geeky and it looks like you would really like it if you used Git already.
Similar to the dropbox sites, they have themes and custom URLs. It is designed primarily for documentation pages for your Github project.
See http://pages.github.com/ for more details.
I think that is enough of a round-up of some of the options out there. Do you have any other options or favourites? Let us know in the comments.