I have been playing around with pre-loaded scripts for various applications from my web hosting services for the last 3 years. One of the applications I use a lot is which is powering this blog is in fact WordPress. I also installed the e-learning platform, Moodle for me to put some of the courses I created or obtained from open source sites.

In fact, I was attracted to having my website and applications hosted by the promotion of Mochahosting which gave me 3 years of hosting for US$88.20 (RM299.88). The speed, performance and support provided by Mochahosting however leave much to be desired. Since I was paying something like US$2.45 (RM8.33) per month (and the price was guaranteed for the lifetime of my account), and I was just using it for playing around with the various applications that it has bundled, I was not too bothered by Mochahosting’s shortcomings. I have just renewed the subscription to Mochahosting for another 3 years, setting me back by US$88.20.

There are however many hosting service providers out there which are supposedly better in performance, speed and support. Many do give a very good deal that is similar to Mochahosting. I was attracted to one of these providers, Godaddy about 1 year ago. I was given a free domain name registration (for 1 year) with the hosting cost of US$72.06 (RM237.78). Imagine my shock when the next bill came a few weeks back, to carry on for another year, my hosting cost would be RM359.88 and add to it a domain name registration at full price of US$15.29 (RM51.99), the whole package would cost me US$121.14 (RM411.87)! This is 173.32% of my initial package! This makes the cranky Mochahosting look decidedly low cost in comparison, if I can tolerate living with its quirky service level. To make things worst, WordPress was the only active application I ran using the expensive Godaddy web hosting service.

My aim all along is to have my blog, “As I was Learning” easily found and always available to my followers. That rules out Mochahosting and I am not willing to be “suckered” by Godaddy’s comparatively high cost for my simple WordPress powered blog. I began searching and reading about alternatives and I found one, sort of.

It turns out that WordPress, via WordPress.com (as opposed to WordPress.org) provides a blog hosting service. It will, if you want to use your own domain name registered elsewhere (i.e. not via WordPress.com) allow you the option to map this domain to its free hosting for US$13.00 (RM44.20) a year. However, since I have not invested too much resources in promoting my blog’s domain name, this could be a bit expensive too as I would need to spend at least another US$15.29 (RM51.99) to renew registration of this domain name with Godaddy, making a yearly cost of around US$28.29 (RM96.19).

When I looked further into the various deals provided by WordPress.com, one was very attractive indeed. For US$18.00 (RM61.20) per year, I would be given a year of domain name registration plus the free hosting of WordPress.com. This is the very deal that this blog is sitting on. It did mean I had to abandon the initial domain name of my blog and use a new domain name, theplantcloner.com .

Those people who, like me have got used to having our own WordPress powered blog hosted ourselves would need to adjust a little bit when we switch over to the free hosting of WordPress.com. You will lose the use of all those wonderful WordPress plugin that make the platform a very customizable blog platform. You also no longer be able to use Google Analytics to do the deep probe into the performance of your blog. But WordPress.com’s in-built statistical analytical tool does give a broad analytics of your visitors, but it is far too crude for my liking. Limited customization is possible depending on which free theme that you have chosen. Then again there are paid themes that grant you more customization and features but these come with price tags that can range from US$18 – $150 (RM61.20 – RM510) making it probably worth your while hosting the WordPress blog elsewhere. But if you are like me, have a modest features demand, the US$18.00 (RM61.20) cost per year for having one’s own domain plus hosting is hard to beat.

Transitioning from an externally hosted WordPress blog to one that is hosted by WordPress.com is very simple. It is just a matter of backing up your content from the old site and reloading the content into WordPress.com hosting.

So the next time you are tempted by a “cheap” promotion on web hosting or domain name registration, you should look into the fine print to see how much the service provider will charge you from the time your contract is up (usually one year later). “Cheap” could turn out to be “expensive”! Remember, there is no free lunch in this world!

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