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Choosing a Web Host

SMU Student Web Hosting

In August 2012, SMU OIT will launch a WordPress server that students will be able to use free of charge. Details on signing up for an account and logging in will be posted here as soon as the system is available for use.

Students are not required to use SMU's WordPress offering; they can use any technology or hosting service they're comfortable with.

Optional External Hosting for Advanced Students

Students who are comfortable with web technologies are encouraged to purchase a hosting package with an external host that can offer features not available through SMU's offering. There are pros and cons to both options, but an external hosting package provides a bit more of a "real world" experience. Students who are new to web design and development should use the SMU offering.

More information regarding external hosting appears at the bottom of this page.

Comparison of Hosting Options

SMU Offering:
Pros Cons
  • Free.
  • SMU resources will be available for student support.
  • WordPress software will be kept up to date and secured by SMU.
  • Recommended for beginners.
  • WordPress only.
  • Limited WordPress customizations: students will not be able to access the PHP layer of the software for custom theming. Rather, a few themes that students can insert their content into will be made available.
  • Domain names can only forward to your site; also, final URLs as search engines see them will be of the form blog.smu.edu/username, rather than www.josebowen.com, for example.

External Web Hosting:
Pros Cons
  • Low-level access to the web software, for extra customizations.
  • Choice of web content systems — WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.
  • Full domain name integration, rather than just a forward.
  • Hosting fees (vary by company, but are generally in the area of $100/year for basic hosting).
  • Students are responsible for their own software updates and keeping software secure.
  • Tech support would be handled by the hosting company and not SMU.

Software as a Service:
Pros Cons
  • Software is often easy to use.
  • Software is maintained by the third party company.
  • Usually free options, with upgrades available at a cost.
  • Most allow full domain name integration (with extra steps and perhaps extra cost).
  • Advertisements are sometimes added to your content.
  • Limited software customization.

Choosing an External Host/Software

If a student does decide that he or she would prefer to use an external host instead of SMU's offering, there are many options in the marketplace. SMU does not endorse or affiliate with any external hosts, and any purchases and service agreements are wholly the responsibility of the student.

In most cases, basic shared hosting accounts will serve students' needs and can be upgraded for high-traffic sites. The following is a good resource for choosing a web host: http://www.cnet.com/1990-10192_1-5510570-1.html.

Many web hosts offer discounts for referrals - get together with your friends to save money, and search the web for coupon codes! Web hosts also offer discounts for yearly instead of monthly payment plans; at the cost of not being able to switch hosts if you're unhappy with the service. Choose carefully!

It is strongly recommended that students who do use external hosting register their domain in the same place that they host. This makes for fewer steps and easier maintenance.

The following is a list of a few popular web hosts. SMU does not endorse any of these hosts and does not receive compensation for referrals, and more extensive lists can be found online.

And the following are common "software as a service" options. Again, SMU does not endorse or affiliate with any external hosts.

Start a Movement

Meadows Prize

Arts Entrepreneurship

Minor in Arts Entrepreneurship at SMU

Arts Entrepreneurship Blog

Arts Entrepreneurship Resources

Arts Entrepreneurship Youtube Channel

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Meadows Class of 2016

Meadows Class of 2017

Student Web Presence Requirement

Choosing a Web Host

Registering for an SMU Web Account

Registering a Domain

Using WordPress

WordPress Resources

Getting Help

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Picking a Stage Name

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Creative Community

International Opportunities

Interdisciplinary Studies

Research and Creativity