2007/02/03

Self-hosting Guide

The Blognonymous No Fuss Guide To Self-hosting

Step 1 - Find A Host and Plan

Self-hosting is, unfortunately, not without cost, and most of the money will go to your hosting company. This is the company that actually provides you with space on one of their servers to place your blog's pages, scripts, images and whatever else you need. Typically they will also provide you with email, and all sorts of other nifty services that free you from having to use Gmail all the time or some crappy mail service from your ISP (Comcast, AT&T, or whomever).

There are a billion plans and a billion hosts, but the most basic will usually cost about $8 a month and will include everything you need to host your blog. You can go with an uber-reliable, industrial strength company like Hostway, or a uber-cheap, unreliable, "hoster to the world" like 1&1 Internet. In between I've heard good things about Startlogic, Bluehost, iPower, and LunarPages.


Step 2 - Get A Domain, The Mysteries of the Registrar

Normally people list this step first, and certainly you can acquire a domain separately from acquiring a host. For example, I own six domains and none of them are tied to 1&1 Internet (my host company), but almost all hosts partner with a company called a 'Registrar' to identify, get the status of, and acquire domains on your behalf. Why do I register and manage my domains separately? Long story. I'll go into it later. What you need to know is that part of the process of signing up with a host is getting a domain, and they'll usually include the domain in the package you buy. Do you want "harrysblog.com"? Well just supply that name when you sign up for hosting, but be ready...Harry may already have registered that name. So you better have some backup choices ready.

Once you have a domain and a plan, that domain is yours as long as you keep "renewing" it--more money here. The initial term of ownership is 1 year, and your host may keep renewing it for you as part of your plan, but you need to check because if you let your domain lapse, someone else can grab it. Talk with your hosting company about this.


Step 3 - "Tell Blogger" or "What the f*ck is FTP?"

OK you've got the domain. You've got a host for your blog. What next? Move your blog to your new host/domain, that's what. Under "Settings", Blogger has a tab for "Publishing" and this is the place where set up your host and domain so Blogger knows where to send your posts. The way this happens is that Blogger connects to your host using FTP (the (F)ile (T)ransfer (P)rotocol) and moves your posts and indices from their servers to your host's servers. What you need to do is tell Blogger how to make that connection and where to put things. I'm not going to go into detail here because Blogger's help pages on this are pretty good. Make sure to look at them and talk with your host about the specific values. Or...email me if you get in a bind.

And there you have it. You're up and running with your own host and domain. No more Blogspot outages for you.