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I'd like to find a hosting solution for my personal, fairly low-traffic, web site. I think Google Sites would suit me perfectly, but I've heard horror stories about Google's algorithms shutting down all your accounts on a whim, with no right of appeal, so I'm naturally worried, because I don't want to lose my Gmail.

Edit I'm talking about cases like this one:

I tried contacting somebody at Google support ("Surely they should have a support department, right?" Nope, wrong!)

(The victim managed to regain access to his Gmail account when his case went "viral", but he never got an explanation as to why he had been locked out in the first place)

Are there good, preferably free, alternatives to Google Sites and what are their PROs and CONs? One requirement is that I should be able to point the DNS (foobar.com) to it.

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@Anagio Blogger is also part of Google's empire, isn't it? –  Oleg2718281828 Jul 29 '12 at 22:42
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Well if you're hosting questionable content then you should just host it yourself so you don't have to worry about your account being shutdown. If you plan to host content which Google would close your site for. I'm sure the same will happen at any free host. –  Anagio Jul 29 '12 at 22:44
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False positives for a website? Ok so now you're talking about AdSense invalid clicks not website content. That's completely different if Google feels someone was clicking on Ads they'll close your AdSense account. And with hundreds of millions of dollars they are pretty damn smart at catching people doing it. Yes they have very clearly outlined guides for placing Ads and what you can and cannot place near the ads. Yes humans review your AdSense cases. I know for a fact that even when an AdSense account is closed and reviewed they can be re-instated. –  Anagio Jul 29 '12 at 23:20
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Yes you can appeal you can actually email and call Google and speak with humans. They are pretty friendly when no sketchy activity was going on they'll see that an open your account back up. I'm not going to start pasting email conversations with proof accounts are opened again. I hope you'd trust what i'm saying. If you are so worried about your account closing from what you read on hacker news I get the feeling you have some questionable ideas when it comes to AdSense and your website. Again if you're worried about your accounts closing host your own website yourself and don't use AdSense. –  Anagio Jul 29 '12 at 23:25
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@Anagio do you work for Google or something? I asked a question, and your reaction was to accuse me of cheating and other wrong-doing. Seriously? –  Oleg2718281828 Jul 30 '12 at 0:07
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3 Answers

I have a Google Sites personal website. I also have maintained sites on

  • Blogger
  • Posterous
  • Wordpress dot com (Wordpress hosted)
  • Typepad and
  • Tumblr

None are self-hosted, because I wanted to try doing everything for free, as an experiment.

Blogger
If choosing between Blogger and Google Sites, given that both are free, I would probably choose Blogger if I wanted to:

  • use AdSense and/or AdWords (although one could do so on Google Sites, I guess)
  • have a site that were user friendly enough for my mother to visit,
  • offer comments using Disqus or Intense Debate or just Blogger's own system,
  • post things on Twitter frequently etc.
  • use social bookmarking or "Sharing" buttons

There is slightly more usage of JavaScript allowed on Blogger than Google Sites too.

Google Sites offers more control, as one would have with a real website (directories etc.) Google Sites also allows all sorts of, well, interesting ways of embedding things easily. This is my Google Site. Don't laugh at how silly some looks. The site is child friendly, no malicious links etc. I have no AdSense on the site, no Google Analytics (although I did claim the site with Google Webmaster). Google Sites of course allows you to point your DNS to it. Blogger does too. However, Blogger (blogspot) is a Google-owned property.

Wordpress dot com is inadvisable if one wants any use of JavaScript, or access to page source CSS, or has a domain registered and wants to use that instead of xxxxxx.wordpress.com. The alternative is Wordpress dot org, which is probably overkill for a simple personal website. Here is a good comparison of Wordpress dot org versus dot com (it is from Wordpress support, relatively new, July 2012). dot org requires hosting. I do like how my Wordpress dot com site looks, though. Although this sounds superficial, I do think that there is still more status with a Wordpress site, even those that are not self hosted. It is more difficult for me to blog with Wordpress, takes a long time to work things out, but when I do, the results look very good, and I get compliments, which never happens from what I do on other blogging platform. This is my Wordpress dot com blog to compare with Google sites.

Typepad free blogs are rather limited. I have one, but can't do too much with it. The fee-based Typepad websites are quite expensive, but they do provide customer service. A nice feature of Typepad, even free blogs, are that it is much easier to leave comments on other Typepad blogs.

Posterous is good, however, it was recently acquired by Twitter. I think that its days may be numbered. EDIT: The acquisition was in June 2012, and it is now November, but Posterous is fully functional as it has always been. Javascript is allowed, and so are alterations or even your own HTML and CSS theme. Posterous is a good choice, as long as they continue to offer the same service as they have for the past 4+ years.

Tumblr can be set up as a decent personal website, with access to the CSS, use of JavaScript, pointing DNS to your site. Downsides are that it isn't really intended for that. Tumblr has massively improved their site reliability in the past year, though, and has a uniquely social aspect that I can't really articulate very well. One may entirely avoid this if one wants. There were bad spam problems, and malicious links etc. which has also improved a lot.

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+1, but it sounds like there isn't a good non-Google alternative? –  Oleg2718281828 Jul 30 '12 at 1:06
    
Oleg, I just thought of two others. LiveJournal, I tried that too, lisa-eve44.livejournal.com and use the free service. JavaScript is allowed to some extent, much more versatility than Wordpress, and I have not been negatively effected by spam or down-time. DNS pointing your domain might cost a little, not much. –  Feral Oink Jul 30 '12 at 1:32
    
Sorry, there is one more alternative, which you might like: Github ! I am uncertain if you need a paid account. I haven't implemented it myself. It can be done through Github pages and with that Jekyll thing, or also in a much more primitive way that Daniel Messier wrote about. I'll get the links, be right back. –  Feral Oink Jul 30 '12 at 1:34
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@FeralOink You should take out the mention of WordPress.org or revise the description. It is in fact free, but it is for self-hosting WordPress. –  Drai Jul 30 '12 at 20:29
    
@Drai Will do. I just found a good blog post from Auttomattic (or Automattic or whatever non-standard spelling they use ;o) owner of Wordpress, that explains the difference, which is consistent with what you stated. Thank you! –  Feral Oink Aug 2 '12 at 18:52
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You could host it through your dropbox! Site44 or droppages are two good options for this. Super simple and easy to maintain and upgrade. Handy to be able through a simple text editor on the iPhone to update your website by a simple dropbox upload.

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In no particular order:

A recent roundup of free options (some of which I've mentioned): http://sixrevisions.com/tools/top-free-online-blogging/

As for the DNS issue, many domain name registration services provide domain name forwarding. I use Namesecure for that: https://www.namesecure.com/

Personally, hosting is so cheap these days, I'd recommend finding the most affordable hosting account you can and hosting your own Wordpress site. It's easy, flexible, and gives you the full power of that tool and any other you might choose to run, as well as some free FTP space and other perks.

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