Switch your iWeb site to a Mac-friendly Web host

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With the demise of MobileMe, many Mac users are looking for new homes for their websites, particularly those created in iWeb. Deciding among the thousands of hosting companies can be bewildering. Don’t panic. Here are a few tips to help you choose a new provider and move your sites to their new home.

What to look for

The type of hosting service most likely to appeal to MobileMe refugees is shared hosting, in which numerous sites and domains share the resources of each physical computer connected to the Internet. It’s inexpensive, and except for high-traffic or mission-critical sites, it’s a good all-around choice for most consumers.

First, the good news: Finding a “Mac-compatible Web host” is like finding a “food-compatible restaurant.” Regardless of the server’s operating system, they all work pretty much the same way. If you’re a fairly technical user and can usually figure things out on your own, you can pick a provider regardless of how much the company seems to like Macs.

However, if you’re a less-sophisticated Mac user, you may feel most comfortable picking a company that understands your specific needs and makes you feel at home. A Web search on “Mac friendly Web hosting” turns up enough matches to make your head spin, but the definition of “Mac-friendly” seems to run the gamut from “We run all our Web servers on Macs” to “One of our techs once touched a Mac.”

If you visit a provider’s website and see words like “Mac” and “iCloud” on the homepage‚ or better yet, read a story about how everyone in the company uses a Mac‚ you can feel confident that the company has a clue about the Mac OS. In lieu of an obvious welcome mat, visit the company’s support page and do a quick search for “Mac.” Are there more than a few hits? That’s a good sign.

Of course, enthusiasm about the Mac doesn’t guarantee a good experience. A hosting company with lousy customer service or a poor track record for uptime isn’t what you want regardless of its Mac bona fides. Try doing a Web search for its name plus “opinions” or “reviews” to read about other customers’ experiences. (Take a handful of excessively positive or negative reviews with a grain of salt; everyone’s mileage varies.)

Hosting companies to consider

If you want a few suggestions of companies to consider as a starting point, here are a few names. I have personal experience with only the first two, but all are worth a look:

  • digital.forest has been supporting Macs for many years; at one time, FileMaker hosting was its main claim to fame. Shared Unix hosting plans start at $9 per month (plus a $30 setup fee); with more-expensive plans, you can opt to use a Mac or Windows server instead.

  • Dreamhost is a large and highly regarded Web host provider with a long list of features, and support technicians who are (mostly) knowledgeable about the Mac. Shared hosting starts at $8.95 per month (with a two-year prepayment), including unlimited disk space and bandwidth.

  • FatCow and HostGator appear to be cut from the same cloth. Both offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, and both claim to be “green,” buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset their electrical usage with wind power. FatCow has plans starting at $6.95 per month (with a three-year prepayment), with lower introductory rates; HostGator’s plans start at $3.96 per month (again, for three years up front).

  • Little Oak is a small company offering “hosting for Mac users, by Mac users” (albeit on Linux servers) for as little as $80 per year, which includes 5GB of disk space and 50GB of bandwidth per month. It also guarantees 100 percent uptime.

  • MacHighway has the same “Web hosting for Mac users, by Mac users” slogan (and also uses Linux servers). Its least expensive plan is only $29.40 per year ($2.45 per month) and includes 5GB of disk space with unlimited bandwidth. Like FatCow and HostGator, MacHighway buys RECs for “green” wind-powered electricity.

Move an iWeb site

Same site, different host
If you were using iWeb to publish a site on MobileMe, you can move it to your new provider easily:

  1. Launch iWeb and select a site in the sidebar.
  2. From the Publish To pop-up menu, choose FTP Server (instead of MobileMe).
  3. Under FTP Server Settings section, choose the specific protocol (FTP with or without TLS/SSL, or SFTP) from the Protocol pop-up menu. Enter the server address, username, and password (along with any other pertinent details) provided by your new Web host. Click Test Connection to confirm your settings
  4. Enter the URL for your site. (Note that if you were using a custom domain with MobileMe, you must edit the domain's DNS settings so it points to the new host instead of web.me.com; your domain registrar can provide instructions for doing this.)
  5. Click Publish Site.

[Senior contributor Joe Kissell is the senior editor of TidBits and the author of the ebook Take Control of iCloud.]

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