Frequently Asked Questions

The NearlyFreeSpeech.NET FAQ (*)

General (*)

What's the most important thing to know about your service?

What's the most common mistake people make while signing up for NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

Why do I have to enter my real name when creating a membership?

Can I beat your pricing if I get my own VPS?

How much does the average site really cost?

Do you provide email hosting services?

Is your service easy to use?

Do you provide DNS hosting services?

How many web sites can I host with a NearlyFreeSpeech.NET membership?

Do you register domain names?

How will I know if my account is about to run out of funds?

Why do you only offer prepaid service?

My web designer says I should use somebody else instead of you. What do you say?

Do you price-match your competitors?

How can you make money at these prices?

What is the minimum deposit?

Will you design my web site for me?

Do you offer collocation, dedicated servers, or VPS services?

What happens if I get slashdotted/reddited?

Are you about to pop up a "chat now with sales!" ad on me?

What if I want to set up a web site but don't have a domain name / don't want to fool with DNS?

Why don't you have a free tier?

What's the difference between bandwidth and storage?

Why doesn't your website look like other hosting provider sites?

Are your domain registration services intended for general-purpose usage?

What if my web site gets attacked?

Is your service only for controversial or extreme websites?

Should I set up my new small business website at NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

Will you pre-approve my web site content or proposed use of your service?

How much will my site cost to host with you?

What kind of uptime can I expect with NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

It depends. (Of course.) The short answer is: Not only don't we know, we can't know. The long answer uses the word "however" a lot.

Shared hosting has a well-earned reputation for volatility. You're sharing resources with other people. Who knows what they or the visitors to their sites are about to do? However, the most common causes of downtime are specific to the affected site. An expired domain, runaway scripts, or running out of funds are much more likely to cause downtime than a service failure.

We find that when people ask about uptime, they expect a magic number with a certain quantity of nines in it. That number allegedly represents the fraction of the time our service is available. However, the availability of "the service" depends on the definition of "the service." We host a large number of sites and they don't all move in lock-step. One person's downtime might not affect anyone else.

It would be easy (and blatantly dishonest) to pick an arbitrary definition that would allow us to claim 100% uptime, or any number of nines we want. Likewise, with enough hardware, something is always offline for maintenance. So we could make an argument for 0% uptime. (Though we prefer not to.) In the rare case where a production server crashes, it usually affects a small percentage of our members' sites for a few minutes. Sites move back and forth, servers go up and down, and most of it happens without any visible effect.

There's also the philosophical angle. If a server reboots in the forest, but no one tries to access it, was it really down?

At many providers, your site is 100% dependent on the availability of a single physical server. If it fails, you're out of luck. Our clustered approach provides resiliency against many types of hardware problems. However, we do develop and maintain our own clustering software. Occasionally something incredibly weird may happen here that would (or could) never happen anywhere else. Such events are rare, but not without precedent.

Sites hosted at NearlyFreeSpeech.NET run a small risk of being "collateral damage" of a denial-of-service attack not aimed at them. But the flip side is that we have extensive experience with such attacks. We're able to mitigate most small and moderate attacks without disruption. So although the risk might be higher, the expected impact is lower. There is (most likely) not much practical difference in DDOS risk between competent hosting providers.

All in all, our overall service availability is probably above average to very good when compared to other shared hosting providers. However, "overall service availability" is meaningless if your stuff is down. We understand that. One site offline because of a service malfunction is one too many. That's why we monitor our systems and services continuously from multiple offsite locations and respond to problems as quickly as possible, 24x365.

Is this cloud computing?

Where are you located?

Do you offer telephone support?

Someone else uses your service and wants my help with it. How do I help them?

Should I use NearlyFreeSpeech.NET or a VPS?