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Karelia’s Sandvox Hosting Simplifies Web Site Hosting

Want to spin up a quick Web site, something that Apple used to make easy with iWeb? Karelia Software’s $79.99 Sandvox is perhaps the main successor to iWeb, making it possible to create a template-based Web site with your custom content in minutes, even if you have no experience with HTML and CSS.

However, building the site is only half the problem — you still need to make your site accessible on the Internet, which requires a Web host. You can configure Sandvox to upload to nearly any Web host when you publish your site, but initial configuration can be non-trivial for a beginner. You have to find and enter a bunch of information: SFTP login credentials, root directory, and more, and you may have to log in to a confusing cPanel on the Web host and run through additional configuration there. It merits a lengthy support page on the Sandvox site.

To simplify the process for those who find such details intimidating, Karelia has now introduced Sandvox Hosting, a dedicated hosting service that you sign up for within Sandvox itself and which can be uploaded to only from within Sandvox. (Sandvox 2.10 or later is required.) Instead of a complicated setup, you merely sign in to the service from within Sandvox with your email address and password.

Behind the scenes, Sandvox Hosting is a mashup of a variety of technologies that feed into Amazon S3 (in three separate locations) along with a backup on Amazon Glacier. Reliance on Amazon Web Services should provide Sandvox-hosted sites with excellent performance and uptime, even in the face of unusual traffic spikes.

Along with a 14-day trial, Karelia offers four plans for Sandvox Hosting, beginning with the $7.99 per month Starter plan for a subdomain within the domain that includes 2 GB of data transfer per month plus 1 GB of storage. It’s ideal for a temporary Web site that only needs to stick around for a few months.

For more permanent sites, the $99-per-year Single plan provides a custom domain name registration, 10 GB per month of data transfer, 5 GB of data storage, and 10 forwarding email addresses. The $144-per-year Multi plan bumps up to 45 GB per month of data transfer and 10 GB of storage, plus 50 forwarding email addresses. It also includes 1 free domain name registration but supports up to 10 domains at $17.50 per year each. Finally, the $199-per-year Mega plan provides 75 GB of data transfer, 15 GB of storage, 1 free domain name registration, and 100 forwarding email addresses; you can add an unlimited number of domains. These aren’t the lowest prices you can find for Web hosting, but they’re similar to competitors like EverWeb and Web-based hosting services like Squarespace.

Should your site receive some unexpected popularity such that you’re in danger of running out of your allotted bandwidth, Karelia will get in touch via email to talk about solutions, such as upgrading your plan or taking your site offline temporarily.

Although Sandvox Hosting appears to be well thought out, there are a few missing options that Karelia is looking into adding. For instance, you can’t currently have subdomains (like within your custom domain name, you can’t password-protect your site or portions of it, and there’s no support for HTTPS. Plus, although Sandvox Hosting supports all the built-in capabilities of Sandvox, if you need server-side processing from PHP or the like, you’ll need to stick with a conventional Web host; Karelia recommends A2 Hosting.

It’s great to see Karelia combining the power and flexibility of a Mac app with the simple setup of a Web-based hosting service — it should be an excellent option for Mac users who want to create and publish a simple site.

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