One of the questions you might ask yourself is, where can I host stuff online. My personal experience with 3-party hosting (including this blog) has been limited entirely to LAMP stack providers. While these providers are fine for general website hosting, none of them have offered an option for hosting .NET web applications. So, if I plan to build and host web content written in C# and other .NET languages, I’ll need to find a suitable provider.
Luckily, some quick Google-Fu turned up a Hosting Provider Directory right on ASP.NET : Link
My goal here was to identify some low-cost providers that might be suitable for sandbox or Proof of Concept style tinkering. Basically, something that would let me experiment as an individual without breaking the bank. I’m not looking for high performance or a beefy server, just somewhere to take things out for a test spin. Some things I’ll want would be a host that supports a current .NET framework and with a DB backend (MS-SQL would be great but I could live without it).
Here are a few examples of what I found:
Arvixe showed up as a top contender in a couple of online reviews. After checking out their website, it looks like they offer everything that I might look for at a cost of $5/month. Certainly something worth looking into.
WinHost has shown up in a lot of ads for me lately so I decided to take a look at their offering. Their Basic Plan price was $3.95/month but they require a 2 year commitment in order to achieve that price. Additionally, they only offer a single site and a single DB. In order to move beyond that, I’d have to commit to their Max Plan which is $7.95/month.
This is where I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately. Azure allows the customer to pick and choose all of the components that go into an environment and pay for as little or as much as you like. Individual nodes and other infrastructure can be provisioned at will and there’s an estimated monthly cost for each item as they are provisioned. While I do like the idea of paying for dedicated and infrastructure on-demand, I am a little daunted by the pricing, as even a Basic server costs $55/month by itself.
To me, the interesting thing about Azure hosting is that they offer an upfront trial ($200 credit) for any user. Additionally, you are only charged for when your resources are actually used. So, if you take a server that’s ~$50/month to run, but only run it for a fraction of the month, you might very well come in under the other options listed below. Not ideal for a commercial website that needs to be up 24/7, but might be just fine for the occasional evening of tinkering.
So, I’ve opted at this time to start a trial account of Azure and see how it behaves for my purposes. I’ll post a follow up on this at the end of the trial.
If any of you have ideas for .NET hosting or have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to firstname.lastname@example.org.