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Free Web space

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Where to get it
The Internet can be compared to a new frontier in many ways, and one of is that thereís any amount of space out there going free to anyone who wants it. And unlike the real world, the amount of free space out there is increasing all the time.

All ISPs who charge a monthly fee offer free Web space, most of those who donít charge also offer free Web space, and a surprising number of online businesses now offer free Web space. Indeed, many of the ISPs will offer you a sizeable amount of free Web space. For example, Direct Connection offers 20Mb and Global Internet 50Mb, but king of the hill is EasyNet - if you can think of a use for it, you can have as much free Web space as you like.

The other sources of free Web space are the many providers of free email services. They hand out both for free in an attempt to build bigger online communities, thatíll in turn generate more advertising revenue. Most of these services offer you between 2Mb and 10MB per user - though since you can be as many users as you like, thereís no real limit. Check out Angelfire at www.angelfire.com and the biggest of them all, Geocities at www.geocities.com.

Geocities is interesting as it themes its usersí Web sites. You set out your stall in an appropriate area full of like-minded folk. It seems to work. Angelfire hands out free email addresses along with its free Web space, and lets you to have a fairly sensible Web address.

The right address
If you register your own domain name and have it hosted, you could end up with a personalised Web address in the format www.yourname.com, which is pretty cool. Itís also drop dead simple for people to remember. But as you move into the free Web space world, the addresses get less obvious and less memorable.

For example, on Pipex you might get an address of the form http://ds.dial.pipex.com/yourname, which doesnít even start with the usual www. This type of address is somewhat less personal. ISPs that give you a unique URL for your email address, such as Demon, offer more memorable user Web page addresses in the form www.yourname.demon.co.uk. This looks a lot better and is easier to remember.

If Web page creation is one of your primary reasons for being online, then the format of your address counts. Look for an ISP that includes your name as part of the main domain name. The only real advantage to UK users of free Web space from companies such as GeoCities which donít provide Net access, is if you get your Net access via your company or university and donít have an ISP account.

OK, so some people also use companies such as GeoCities because, despite what they claim, you can set up a Web site without divulging your true identity. If youíre heavily into cross-dressing, for example, and want to construct a Web site championing your hobby, you might not want to make it obvious who you really are.

Some ISPs provide cgi-bin services for usersí free Web space, but many donít. Check it out before signing up

Free Web site services
Some Web pages are effectively little different from a printed page. They donít do anything. Theyíre just there to be looked and read. If youíve got this kind of site, it doesnít really matter whoís hosting it.

On the other hand, if you want to use forms on your Web pages, youíll need access to cgi-bin scripts. If youíre having your own domain name hosted, you can put up whatever scripts you like, but the situation is different with free space.

Many ISPs do provide a standard set of scripts for Web pages, which you can use, but the only way to find out is to check the ISPís Web site or phone them up.

The other popular type of Web page support is for anyone using Microsoft FrontPage for their Web design. This provides a lot of active services you can embed in your Web pages, but to work the ISP has to be running FrontPage Extensions. Some do, and some donít, and a few say they do when they donít. Assume nothing. If you need specific services, make sure you ask about them first.

Other ISPs will handhold you through the whole site-making process. The Web page wizard at Pipex lets you to choose a template for various simple personal and business sites - all you have to do is fill in a series of simple forms, and your Web site magically appears.

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow
Obviously, companies donít make money by handing out free Web space. Itís a come-on for their other - paid-for - services. And as with everything free, you often only get what you pay for.

ISPs host lots of Web sites, both commercial and free, on one Web server. Sometimes it can be thousands. The ISP might tell you it has ultra-fast connections to the Internet, but that doesnít mean people on the Internet will have ultra-fast access to your Web site.

Web servers are just computers, albeit fast ones (we hope). They handle requests for Web pages one at a time. Itís not unusual to find an ISP delivering pages from the usersí free Web space noticeably slower than it delivers pages from its commercially hosted Web sites.

This is because the commercial Web sites are sitting on a top of the range, screamingly fast Unix based Sun server, while the free Web pages are huddled forlornly on an NT based 166MHz Pentium PC the company receptionist used before being upgraded to a 300MHz machine.

Unfortunately, from the outside, you canít easily get information about the physical setup at the ISPís site. What you can do is try out existing usersí Web pages at various companies before committing. At the slightest hint of sloth, cross them off your list.

Setting it up
You might just want to establish a simple Web site as a contact point on the Net. You might have no interest in building a fancy themed site or even learning anything about creating Web pages. In which case, you should choose one of the ISPs or online communities which provide Web page wizards.

These - as in the Pipex example above - provide simple online templates where you type in the information you want to include on your page. They also usually supply a collection of artwork, icons, buttons and backgrounds you can use.

Which brings us to one, final point. Usually, you can run a Web browser at the same time as youíre editing your Web page. Every time you make a change, you can upload the new page, refresh the browser view and see the changes immediately.

Well, thatís the way it should be, but it isnít always the case. There are ISPs where changes can take from minutes to days to become publicly available. For anyone running a topical or frequently updated site, delays are unacceptable, so always ask how long it takes new pages to appear on the Web.

Some places to get free web space from....

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Get a free Web site from Bigstep - No ad banners
Bigstep, premier hosting provider, was awarded as one of PC magazines Top 100 Web sites for the second year running. Create and manage a web site FREE and your Url would be Http://yourname.bigstep.com Or http://www.YourSite.com. You also get Unlimited access to our do-it-yourself Web-building service and can create an unlimited number of Web pages. Search engine and directory submission is also included, and best of all its all free!

VidaVision Free Homepages!
Get a Free 50 Megs of space for your homepage, it comes complete with guest books, webmaster tools and a web board system. Easy to use uploads, file manager, fast servers, and no traffic limits!

Keep your free hosting account!! iReg.com
offers cloaked forwarding technology that enables you to forward your domain name to your free hosting site, while users see only www.yourname.com .iReg.com : Domain Registration, Domain Hosting, Domain Forwarding & Unlimited E-mail @yourname.com

20 MB FREE Web space. Choose from over 13 sub-domains or host your own. Free email, instant messaging and more all built around your online community. Upgrade service available.

Offering 10 MB in free hosting with email and more. Can upgrade site for small monthly fee. Speedy network.

About.com Homepages
Join About.com and build a home page within your area of interest!

50 Megs
50 megs of free Web space... all the tools and a short sub-domain!

Free online community dedicated to technologies of all kinds. We offer 20MB, unlimited e-mail accounts, and a variety of tools to build and maintain your site.

Offering 20MB, a domain name you can be proud of, unlimited free email accounts, and a plethora of tools to build and manage your site. Let us prove to you that we're the best!

Get your own subdomain on any of over 20 domains, such as 00me.com, 00sports.com, and fanspace.com. Also, get free e-mail, stats, guestbook, counter & more.

Build your hobbit hole in eshire.net for free, a great community for hobbits and non-hobbits alike. Gobs of space, and more amenities than you could shake a stick at, very respectable INDEED!

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