Monday, March 4, 2013

A new host for my web page

I attended graduate school in the Electrical and Computer Engineering departments at Duke University where I built my first home page. I just had a bunch of HTML files all in a folder public_html folder. My account and web pages there have been active all along. I started looking for alternatives for a similar service ever since I graduated (which was a long time ago).
These were my requirements:
  • Free (or nearly free). 
  • Allows me to provide my own HTML and CSS files. 
  • Strongly prefer no advertisements. 
Many years ago, Geocities provided such a service. Geocities was subsequently acquired by Yahoo, and Yahoo later discontinued the service. So I had to look for yet another alternative.

Most places that advertise that they offer free websites don't really offer the control of hosting your own HTML files (or even if they did, I wasn't able to find it). Among several options that I explored were Google Sites, Weebly, and Wordpress. All of these require one to pick a pre-defined template and then edit content within the confines of that template. I never quite liked any of the templates. In fact, I'm not particularly crazy about the template of this blog, but it works. I kind of like things plain.

Dropbox

I was pleasantly surprised when I accidentally stumbled across someone that was hosting his HTML files on Dropbox. After confirming with him that that is indeed what he was doing, I created an account and moved my files over to Dropbox to be my new home on the web. It met all the 3 requirements that I stated above. Dropbox is actually a file sharing/file synchronization service. However, they have a public folder and anything that is put there can be shared with anyone. So one can have both HTML and non-HTML files and they would all be publicly accessible.

But all that ended in 2016...

Bitballoon

On 8/31/2016, I received the following email from Dropbox:
Hi Anoop, 
We’re writing to let you know that we’ll be discontinuing the ability to render HTML content in-browser via shared links or Public Folder. If you're using Dropbox shared links to host HTML files for a website, the content will no longer display in-browser. 
Please note that this change will take effect for your account on October 3, 2016, and only impacts how shared files are displayed on the web. Your files will remain safe in Dropbox. 
Thanks for being a loyal Dropbox user. 
- The Dropbox Team
As a result I started looking for another low-maintenance website.  I found a couple of blogs about this topic and quickly signed up for bitballoon.  My new site is at http://anoop.bitballoon.com.

If you would like to keep working with Dropbox

I later found out that there are at least a couple of ways to continue using Dropbox.  They are:
Both essentially allow you to render html files stored in a Dropbox Apps folder.  The main difference between them is that htmldrop will actually sync the files and thus provides better download times.

Other alternatives

Non-Dropbox alternatives that I explored
Here area a couple of blogs that discuss static web hosting alternatives.  Both are somewhat dated.

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