Ayke van Laëthem

NearlyFreeSpeech.NET: the perfect small webhost

, by Ayke van Laethem

I'm hosting this website a webhost called NearlyFreeSpeech.NET (NFSN). While I intend to switch to a VPS somewhere in the future, for the time being it fulfills my needs perfectly.

What I like about it, is that they do not have something like different hosting plans. They just provide every feature, and charge for what you actually use. And even when the site burned about 1GB last December, I still had to pay less than one dollar for that (it's $0.25-$0.15 per GB).

This, in my opinion, makes it perfect for experimental websites. You only pay a limited amount for options like CGI, database access and DNS. The rest fully depends on actual usage (bandwidth and storage), which is, of course, small for small websites. Altogether it will be between a few cents per year for the simplest websites, up to maybe $15 or so per year.

Best of all, you'll never end up with a subscription you can't get rid of because they do all their payments via prepayments. If you stop paying, they'll just stop serving when money runs out and after a grace period, they'll remove the site.

They use a infrastructure with automatic load balancing and they say they're fairly experienced in DDoS attacks, so you won't notice anything if a site that happens to be hosted on the same machine gets attacked. The page load times should be constant. I have seen some small latency changes over time, but those could also be for some other reason.

Unfortunately, NFSN comes with a few downsides:

  • The latency is quite high. This will partially be because they're hosting in the US (that transatlantic line adds quite a few milliseconds), and partially because their infrastructure isn't very fast. I guess their servers are just busy. You can't really blame them on this one, though, as they're very cheap.
  • They don't implement some features that I would have liked, such as SPDY and DNSSEC. Both features are something they would like to implement in the future, but of course, they're on a limited budget.
  • They're from the US, which has some privacy implications. It isn't like the US has been very privacy aware in the past. I would prefer hosting a website in Germany (or otherwise somewhere else in the European Union), as they are usually much more privacy aware. Not that it matters much on this site, just out of principle.

These limitations aren't really a problem to me, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for me. I'm very happy with this hosting company.