There's no law that says you have to put your Web site on your company's computer system. You might be better off striking out on your own. Trouble is, there are hundreds of large and small firms with Web servers. Which one should you sign on with?
We've broken the options down into three categories: companies such as Tripod Inc. and GeoCities, which offer free Web hosting services (but not a connection to the Internet, which you'll have to buy separately); online service dinosaurs such as AOL and CompuServe, which include Web hosting as part of their membership; and professional Web hosting firms such as Concentric Network Corp. and AOL Primehost — they cost a lot more, but they deliver a private domain name as well as more server space to work with. On the Web, as in real life, you get what you pay for.
|Web-Hosting Service||The Neighborhood||Moving In||Hits||Misses||Price Tag|
|Tripod||Furnished rooms for computer-literate twenty-somethings.||Handy page-building software makes it easy to decorate.||Care to sell ads on your site? Tripod doesn't mind.||Serious business types may raise their eyebrows at the Tripod address.||The hosting's free, but you must buy your Internet access someplace else.|
|GeoCities||Internet Nation — dozens of communities for every species of Web cruiser.||Finding a vacancy isn't always easy.||Zoning regulations ensure that your page blends in with your neighbors'.||Not zoned for commercial activities — no on-site buying or selling.||Like Tripod, you get free hosting but you must shop around for Net access.|
|AOL||If Ward Cleaver built his own Web site, you'd find it here.||Software lets you build a Web page while you're logged onto AOL.||Up to 10 MB of Web hosting space, enough for a pretty impressive site.||The "aol.com" domain name will mark you as a "newbie" by Internet snobs.||Free with AOL membership — $19.95 per month.|
|CompuServe||Dilbert would love this place.||There are free design tools here for setting up.||The CompuServe address still carries a fair amount of geek credibility.||Just 5 MB of storage. You may run out of space.||Free with membership — $9.95 per month for five hours of online time.|
|Concentric Network||Striver's Row — a place for diligent people halfway up the corporate ladder.||You'll drop $50 on a setup fee. Might as well spring for some design software.||As part of the deal you get five email boxes.||Just 5 MB? At this price?||Setup fee is $50; $29.95 per month.|
|AOL Primehost||Zoned for heavy industry. You can run a full-scale company site from here.||You can cobble a page together with a free suite of tools.||You get 50 MB of Web space — enough for 1,000 pictures of your dog.||The price doesn't include $100 for your domain name!||No setup fee; $99 per month.|
A version of this article appeared in the August/September 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.