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I recently finished my PhD, and so my student web space is no more. My postdoc institution doesn't offer webspace to postdocs. And now, for the first time in 7 years, I have no website.

I've been looking into hosting companies, etc. but I'm having trouble finding one that is the most university-like. For example, I'd like to be able to put some python CGI scripts on, but that's not nearly as common as Perl for support. I'd really like Linux/UNIX hosting and to manage it via SSH and SFTP (web-based uploading would drive me crazy at this point).

I was looking into Amazon (having had good results with EC2 for running some time-consuming code awhile back), but I wanted to ask if that would be overkill for a website that doesn't get thousands of hits a week.

... or should I just host it myself? I'm currently, um being loaned internet from a neighbor (I moved a few months ago and haven't needed to get internet yet). But I do have a desktop computer not getting much use and could just buy internet.

Also, in the off chance that I do end up getting a lot of hits, I'd much rather it slowed down than costing me tons of money (I don't have advertising on it).

I've just been spoiled by university life, and now I need to grow... but not grow up.

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"looking into hosting companies" Which country? It's hard for me to find a German web hosting company, that doesn't offer .py-execution and SSH-access. (For at least 20€/month) –  feeela Aug 21 '11 at 0:33
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 21 '11 at 0:15

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3 Answers

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i'm not a "pro web master", but followed this here from stack overflow. however, i am an ex-academic with an "old school" web page (http://www.acooke.org), so perhaps my experience will help.

first, ec2 does have a free "starter" account. it can be configured, usefully, with dns, so i use it as a gateway to connect to my computers at home when elsewhere (i live in chile and my internet service does not support incoming connections at all, even with something like dyndns, but a reverse ssh tunnel still works).

however, i don't know how to limit ec2, so that wouldn't meet your requirements as a host.

what has worked well for me is webfaction. it's shared host, not a dedicated machine - which means that you have some restrictions (which is why i use EC2 for the ssh tunnel) - but that also means their prices are pretty reasonable. they have a bunch of things pre-configured, and very quick and friendly help. you get ssh to a unix shell prompt, but you don't get root. you wouldn't have any problem running cgi scripts, or web pages, or experimenting with various appservers etc. and i think they have a free trial period. and i am pretty sure they would cut you off rather than charge you more automatically (but their base allowance is pretty high - i have had the occasional blog post appear on hacker news or reddit with no problems).

i do have some experience elsewhere. once with some random large supplier in the uk (which was bad). once with some guy who ran a few servers "to keep his hand in" (he was a kind-of famous internet person, but he didn't have enough time to keep things running well). and also with a couple of places my employers have used. and no-one has been as friendly, simple or reliable as webfaction.

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Me and some friends from university actually got around that by sharing a VPS. Sharing keeps costs down and you have a sysadmin you know to quarrel with. It's like being in the labs again.

Apart from that, if you are that pythoniac, you may consider Google Apps and its Datastore API, certainly not the same as having a simple site with python, but... also without many of the issues (updates, which version to keep, what library works with which version...) having a "simple" site in python sometimes raises.

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If you don't mind a little sys admin you can check out Linode. For US$20/month you'll get a VPS that you can run anything on you feel like. It has so called StackScripts that will setup a basic server for your needs quickly and painlessly.

Good thing is that you can run anything on it and it is fixed price per month. If you find out later you need more you can upgrade the individual parts of the service separately.

They have a datacenters all over the world and the one in London has been pretty good for me so far. There are also other VPS providers you can try but Linode has been pretty good for me so far.

Good luck!

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