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There are two main choices:
Register and pay for your own domain name:|
E.g. http://www.yourname.com, http://www.yourname.ca, etc.
Under this option, your web-site is hosted by a commercial web hosting company, which charges you for the privilege, usually depending on the maximum size of the site (eg 5MB, 100MB, unlimited). The charge can be any where from less than $10/month upwards for a reliable host server. Beware, though: some charge hundreds of dollars a month, for very little extra! They also typically provide various services such as e-mail address, CGI and database support, secure servers, etc, some or all of which you may not need.
In addition to the monthly cost there is also the domain registration fee (for .com, .net or .org names) which has become much cheaper in recent years ($20/year or less, although some hosting plans throw in the domain registration for free). A .ca domain is another option (with more name availability, although a bit more expensive) for Canadian companies or citizens. Most hosts will register your domain name for you when you apply for hosting.
(Check to see if the domain you want is available).
Host for free with an Internet community or your own ISP:|
E.g. http://members.community.com/yourname, http://www.yourISP.com/yourname, etc.
Under this option, your web-site is hosted completely free by one of several so-called Internet Communities which exist to provide this service, or with your own Internet Service Provider (many of which give free web-space as part of their Internet packages). There is usually absolutely no charge (they make their money from other services they offer), and no name registration fees, but the domain name you end up with may be less memorable and less personalized.
For more information on free web hosts, see FreeWebSpace.net, but be aware that this is not such a good option as it once was. Many have a strict size limit and almost all nowadays require your site to carry advertising, either for them or for commercial companies (although your ISP's free space usually does not). Also, bear in mind that some search engines may be less likely to register a free site.
The choice of which to use is of course yours, but bear in mind that thousands of new domain names a month are being registered (i.e. reserved), either by new web-sites, or by companies who buy them up in the hope of subsequently reselling them, so it is by no means certain that you will be able to use the name you want. Hosting and domain registration prices have come down so much in the last few years that having your own domain name is now much more affordable, and it certainly does look more professional. If you are interested, you can check availability of your desired name below (although you don't have to register it using this service).
|Check availability of your desired Domain Name here:|
If you want more details on commercial web hosting companies, try the Hosting Review or HostIndex sites, or my own list of some of the Commercial Web Hosting Plans I have used in the past. I have my own current favourites, including the American Hostmonster, (the one I use myself), and the Canadian DollarHost - they are both cheap, reliable, and provide pretty much everything you could want (including a secure server if needed), and currently charge as little as $6/mth - but the choice is entirely yours.
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