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Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2000

Finding an ASP Home on the Web

When I was first learning ASP, one of the things that frustrated me most was that there were no live Internet sites where I could go to create and test ASP pages. I was using Personal Web Server, but I wanted to try using IIS, and actually create an ASP site that people could visit. I looked at GeoCity like sites, but could not find any free ASP community sites. However, in the past few months, a number of sites on which you can create a free ASP homepage have started popping up.

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These sites are similar to a GeoCities-type site, in which you can create your own free homepage that is hosted on their servers. Unfortunately, a free service is usually worth what you pay for it. The reliability and support you'll find at a free service usually pale in comparison to what you'll find at a good web host. If you are interested in obtaining your own reliable ASP website, you'll need to go through a web hosting company. There is an article on 4Guys that recommends various web hosts and provides links to web host searching sites! Also some of these free sites provide you with a domain name for a monthly charge.

The free ASP homepage sites that I am aware of (if I miss any, let me know!) include:

Create a homepage here and you will start out with 30 MB of space, Access database support, and no ads on your site. (One of the more annoying aspects of free ASP homepages are the ads the hosting site automatically places on your web pages.) Brinkster also provides an extensive code bank, allowing you to cut and paste useful ASP code snippets into your web pages. Furthermore, eWebCity provides a number of How To articles to help the beginning ASP developer along. Brinkster also is running IIS 5 with Windows 2000 at the time of the publication of this article (2/1/00). This is the most professional-looking free access site among the three.

WebHostMe provides its users with a 20 MB disk quota, Access database support, and FrontPage extensions support. One thing that sets WebHostMe apart from the other free ASP homepage sites is that you can register a domain name and have it associated with your web site. The only charges are the $70 registration fee with Network Solutions. (Of course, you are not limited to using Network Solutions. Alert 4Guys reader Stephen V. suggests:

There are a large number of "official" domain registrars. I've found that some (e.g. dotster.com) are cheaper, and most likely better customer service (if you have dealt with Network Solutions extensively, you probably know that "Better" customer service simply means *any* customer service.. although NSI approaches the point where you are actually getting anti-service, in that you spend your time doing something and the net result is that you have only wasted your time.

WebHostMe, though, requires that you provide ads on your homepage, unless you subscribe to their $20 a month plan, which eliminates the ads on your personal site. WebHostMe also provides you with a free email address.

DomainDLX provides ASP support using IIS 4. DomainDLX provides 15 MB of storage, a free email address, and provides other scripting language support besides ASP - ColdFusion and PHP! DomainDLX also includes support for Access databases. Be aware, though, that DomainDLX makes its money from advertisers, and therefore require that an advertiser banner be placed on your homepage.

FrontUK.com offers a free personal Web site with a 5 MB disk quota. FrontUK.com allows for as many email addresses as you'd like (username@frontuk.com), but require that your Web site be a personal Web site, not a commercial one. FrontUK.com also offers other hosting options (for money, of course), as well as custom ASP applications you can encorporate in your free homepage (for a small fee).

In summary, if you're looking to create a personal homepage, one of these free sites will most likely fit the bill. If you need something more reliable, however, you really should invest in a recommended web host. These free sites are often far from reliable. For example, in late January, DomainDLX's router went out, causing a 60 hour downtime for the web sites. If guaranteed uptime is not essential, though, a free ASP homepage might be in order.

Happy Programming!

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