Making Decisions about Hosting Services

[This post is also published on my blog related to creating a DH project.]

One of the first decisions one needs to make when creating a website is where to host it (in other words, where the files related to the site will be located, maintained, and made available to the web). Because I wanted to use a specific content management system for my project, I needed a hosting service that would interface well with Omeka. There were a number of options I considered for hosting.

  • Although it would have been useful to have my site affiliated with my university, there were a number of reasons why I ultimately decided not to go this route. Since I was working on my site remotely, I felt like I might hit roadblocks that would add a level of complication to the project. I didn’t want to take the risk that my work would stall because I wasn’t using tools over which I had complete control. I was also concerned about issues related to who might “own” my work if I depended to much on university resources. Now that I’m almost done with the project, I do see one advantage to using the university’s tools. When I started to try to use Neatline to create a mapping exhibit, I found out that I needed to be able to run a geoserver. I think the university website would have made that doable.
  • I run a number of other websites using a commercial hosting service, Hostgator. I considered using the same setup for my project, however, it looked like a complicated install to use Omeka with Hostgator. After poking around a bit to try to see how this might work, I decided to try something new (to me).
  • Ultimately, I decided to use Reclaim Hosting for my website. I liked that Reclaim Hosting had an automatic install for Omeka–and that this might be more appealing to any future students who want to engage in DH. Although I still had to know about FTPs (File Transfer Protocols) and altering codes within files, I was comfortable with the basics of doing that–and Reclaim Hosting’s all-in-one services (registering the domain, hosting, and access to Omeka) made that a little more easy.

I was conscious of making decisions that would give me the experience necessary to advise students on DH projects since that’s part of the point of my sabbatical. This goal definitely influenced my decisions to use Omeka and Reclaim Hosting.

My advice on hosting would be to balance flexibility and autonomy with the support needed to bolster your skills. If you have no experience with web design, Reclaim Hosting is an attractive option. However, do know that you will need to get comfortable working on backend issues like FTPs, which will be the subject of another post.

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