Today we have a huge number of options for hosting things online with ranges in pricing, complexity, and on-going maintenance.
“Hosting” something online can mean different things, but this page is written to answer “how can I run/publish a website for others to use”.
Cheapest Hosting: Static Websites Link to heading
Static Websites are the cheapest hosting you can get: Free (at least to start).
Static websites are good for websites with content which doesn’t change very often because they work by generating all the HTML/CSS/JS files ahead of time so the server hosting them doesn’t need to do any work. Also meaning that the content can’t be customized (on the server) for each visitor
- AWS S3 + Cloudfront
- Github Pages
Almost all of these are free (or at least start out free) and can handle Reddit and Hacker News spikes of traffic easily.
Of these Github Pages is usually the best to start off with because it gives you a nice domain of
<your-username>.github.io, handles converting your website from markdown, includes HTTPS, and allows you to easily move to a custom domain later on. Not to mention almost all
Static Website workflows start with a git repo hosting the source files to generate the website so you’ll probably need a Github account anyways.
Netlify is also good and easy to use if you do not want to use Jekyll, which is the only generator Github Supports without setting up Github Actions to build the site for you.
Vercel and Firebase are other options which I haven’t used, but are known to work well and cheaply.
S3 + Cloudfront is the most complicated to setup of the bunch, but if you’re using AWS already can make a lot of sense. S3 and Cloudfront start off extremely cheaply and can scale to very high amounts of traffic.
Extremely cheap VPSs Link to heading
Often you’re looking for an OpenVZ VPS which provides extremely small amounts of RAM, CPU, and storage, but can start at $15/year and lets you run a linux server that can do whatever you want.
Places like RamNode, which I use, provide options like this and are great for running private services behind a VPN like git, wikis, and etc.
Cheap VPSs Link to heading
Moving up you have things like OVH, Hetzner, Fly.io, and Digital Ocean which provide very cheap servers, but not quite $15/year cheap. These are often good enough for 80-90% of applications a hobbyist would run and if configured correctly can handle spikes of traffic from Reddit/Hacker News especially if serving static files.
Cloud Hosting Link to heading
This often requires a step up in complexity from simply ssh’ing into a linux server and editing config files to possibly managing a linux config AND cloud config or using Serverless tech.
This includes AWS, Azure, and GCP, but also things like Fly.io, Vercel, Linode, and Digital Ocean.
Bare Metal Hosting Link to heading
Lots of providers out there which provide dedicated servers in data centers to do whatever you want. Unlike most though there is Equinix Metal which provides on-demand access to bare-metal servers which is pretty neat.