I am a broke college student. I have built a small web app in PHP5 and MySQL, and I already have a domain. What is an affordable way to get it online? A few people have suggested amazon's cloud services, but that seems equivalent to slitting my wrists and watching money slowly trickle out. So suggestions? Hosting companies, CIA drop sites, anything?

Update: A lot of suggestions have been for Dreamhost. Their plan allows for 5TB of bandwidth. Could anyone put this in perspective? For instance, how much bandwidth does a site with the kind of traffic StackOverflow get?

+1  A: 

I use and recommend DreamHost for both their prices and customer service. I've hosted several sites here and performance has always been good. $5.95 a month for their basic package.

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I have no specific sites to suggest, but a typical hosting company will charge you less than $10 per month for service. A simple Google search will turn up lots of results for "comparison of web hosts":

Eli Courtwright
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Well, Amazon EC2 is only as bad as the amount of traffic you get. So the ideal situation is to monetize your site (ads, affiliate programs, etc) so that that more traffic you get, the more you pay Amazon, but the more you theory of course.

As for a budget of nothing...there's not really much you can typically always costs something, but since you are using the LAMP stack, it's pretty cheap.

For example, hosting on for 1year can be about $50-60 which is not too bad. I use dreamhost which costs about $80 per year, but I get MUCH more storage and bandwidth.

Adam Haile
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I agree with pix0r. With your requirements of php5 and mysql it seems that for starting out Dreamhost would be a good recommendation. You can always move it over pretty easily to ec2 if it takes off.

Dreamhost is great and cheap for a php5 mysql setup that gives you command line access. The problems come if you want to use some other web language/framework like RoR or Python/Django/Pylons. I know there are hacks to get things working, but last time I tried they were spotty at best and not supported by Dreamhost.

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I say pay the 50-80 bucks for a real host. The classic "you get what you pay for" is very true for hosting. This will save you time, time you can spend getting those $80.

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It may be helpful to know what kind of app we are talking about. Also what sort of traffic do you expect and to echo Adam's note what sort of business model (if any) do you have?

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I highly recommend HostRocket. I have been with them for about 6 or 7 years now with multiple domains and have found uptime and database availability flawless. The only reason I'm leaving them is because I'm doing some .NET web apps now and HostRocket is purely LAMP based.

But without making things an ongoing ad. I will put in two "gotchas" that you'll want to be wary of when searching:

  1. "Free" hosting services. Most of these will make you subdomain on them and worse, they'll put a header and a footer on your page (sometimes in gaudy frame format) that they advertise heavily on. I don't care how poor you are, this will not help attract traffic to your app.

  2. A lot of the cheaper rates depend on pre-payment. HostRocket will give you $4.99 a month in hosting, but you have to pre-pay for 3 years. If you go month to month, it is $8.99. There are definitely advantages to the pre-payment, but you don't want to get caught with close to twice the monthly payment if you weren't expecting it.

I recently found a site called WebHostingStuff that seems to have a decent list of hosts and folks that put in their reviews. While I wouldn't consider it "the final authority" I have been using it as of late for some ideas when looking for a new host.

I hope this helps and happy hunting!


I've been at HostingMatters for years. They're relatively cheap, and their service is awesome. <12 hours for any support ticket I've ever had.

Additionally, since I've been with them for about ten years, they bumped me to an unmetered plan for no cost (at the same $10/month I was paying.) ....

Milan Ramaiya