If you're still new to web development, you'll want to stick with free web space providers, simply because owning your own domain cost money, and it would be a waste of money if you don't know what your doing yet.
I feel that Tripod has the best deal going, with Brinkster in second. In this tutorial I'll walk you through setting yourself up at Tripod, Brinkster and a few others, maintaining your account and updateing, and compare the pros and cons of each space provider.
...But Don't Take My Word For It
This section tends to talk up Tripod and Brinkster, but what do I know? Before you jump into the world of free servers, here is a overview of all the major ones, including Tripod and Brinkster.
Web Space: 20 MB, unlimited upgrades are available, however.
Bandwidth: up to 5 GB per month
URL format: http://www.spaceports.com/username/
File Transfer Method: FTP only
Advertisement: Banner ad on top; removable for $20 per year.
FAQ page / Help: Support forum, and IRC Chat. No Email support.
Additional: SSI, MySQL, and PHP are supported in the CGI-Bin. You don't find that on free servers too often. You are required to request a separate 10 MB allocation on this server if you wish to take advantage of it, however.
Web Space: 150 MB
URL format: http://username.topcities.com
File Transfer Method: Direct FTP only
Advertisement: Banner ad, and topcities logo on every page.
FAQ page / Help: support forum and an okay FAQ page.
Additional: No custom CGI scripts, but a few premade ones are provided. And that is a lot of disk space for a free server.
Web Space: 20 MB
Bandwidth: 1 GB per day (if you exceed, your website will be temporarily disabled for 2 - 3 hours, that's better then a whole day, or the remainder of the month.)
URL format: http://username.tripod.com
File Transfer Method: FTP, and on site file uploader.
Advertisement: You can pick between a custom banner ad, or a pop-up window.
FAQ page / Help: Excellent FAQ / support page, no phone or email support.
Additional: Great network speed, generous bandwidth for a free server, and some really great advanced features. A CGI-Bin is provided for your Perl Scripts, and also Java Programs allowed. Usually when you find a free server that has a "really awesome" feature, there is always a really bad catch. With Tripod you get something that's "pretty good" all around, making it a personal favorite. Another good thing, I've never encountered any down time.
Web Space: 15 MB
Bandwidth: None that I am aware of...
URL format: http://www.geocities.com/username/
File Transfer Method: FTP, or on site file uploader.
Advertisement: Small ad-square in the right corner of page, visitors can minimize, or eliminate that square. Not an irritating system at all. You can purchase 2,500 banner free page views per month and true technical support for $5
FAQ page / Help: Good Help pages, and a group of members called "Yahoo Experts" that can usually be pretty helpful, but no real support.
Additional: GeoCities is actually really great. They may not be the best, but of all the free servers I would put them up there with the top 10. The ad isn't really all that bad, and I'm not too certain on the bandwidth limit, but I'm sure that it's reasonable. If you want to learn advanced web based programming languages, like Perl or PHP then this isn't the place to go, but they have a few free scripts like guest books and polls. Also, the have some really great site tracking features, better then most.
Web Space: 20 MB
Bandwidth: 1 GB
URL format: http://www.angelfire.com/section_name/username/
File Transfer Method: FTP, or on site file uploader
Advertisement: Customizable Banner ads on the top of each page.
FAQ page / Help: Actually pretty good; E-Mail, support forms, help forums, and FAQ.
Additional: AngelFire isn't the worst host you will find. The URL format is a bit much, and there is no support for CGI related scripts (except for a few premade ones provided by AngelFire to members). The usage of FTP is a nice feature, and the space isn't so bad. Still, I believe you could make a better choice.
Free Pro Hosting
Web Space: 50 MB
Bandwidth: None, unless account is "notably draining system resources".
URL format: http://machinename.prohosting.com/username/
File Transfer Method: FTP only
Advertisement: Embedded or Pop Up
FAQ page / Help: Help pages, message boards, forums, and E-mail support (responding will be a low priority.)
Additional: As the name would suggest, this service is meant for advanced web developers. It supports Custom CGI scripts written in Perl, in addition to SSI (with the .shtml file extension), and PHP. The 50 MB is pretty generous, and the bandwidth limit is a nice touch too. When you plan on learning a little Perl or PHP, you should give them a look.
Web Space: none, one page limit. Yes. One page on your account. That's one .html document.
URL format: http://expage.com/username
File Transfer Method: I'm pretty sure you create your page when you sign up.
Advertisement: An ad at the top.
FAQ page / Help: Simple help pages.
Additional: The good, the bad, the ugly, and the retarded. "The Express Page" was invented for no reason what so ever, and you could do better.
Web Space: 30 MB
Bandwidth: 500 MB per month
URL format: http://username+codenumber.brinkster.com?
File Transfer Method: on site file uploader only.
Advertisement: none. No banners, ads, none.
FAQ page / Help: FAQ pages.
Additional: Now, brinkster is a pretty good one, because you do not have any advertisement requirements. However, 500 MB of data transfer per month is pretty low, and there is no FTP options. If you hate ads, but generate few hits, then Brinkster is your best option.
Web Space: Good Question.
Bandwidth: Another excellent question!
URL format: http://liquid2k.com/username
File Transfer Method: on site file uploader, who knows about FTP.
Advertisement: none (!)
FAQ page / Help: ... I think you're on your own.
Additional: Liquid 2K has no advanced features that I can find, (Like CGI bin), no FAQ pages, no information about web space or bandwidth that I can find, and has a tendency to do some crazy things to your files. Occasionally, if you upload an image file, it will not even recognize the .jpg or .gif format, so therefore you can't access it. However, I just started hosting my pages on there recently, and am not completely familiar with it. I haven't looked real hard for any support/ info pages in a long time, so they may be there now. ( I think I remember a support forum ). I would recommend Liquid2K to the intermediate crowd. All in all, I've never had a complaint about it, and it usually didn't take too long to fix problems I had, and no ads is such a tempting aspect!
Setting Up An Account: Tripod
Introduction to FTP
When you want to access files located on another server, then you use the hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP. But, to transfer files to another server, you need to use the File Transfer Protocol, or FTP.
This is an older communication standard, and it is currently the one that your file transfer software must adhere to. That server then sends said files to anyone requesting them using HTTP.
Those paying for their web space will always have the option of FTP, but note that some free servers require uploading directly on site, with a file uploader.
If you can FTP, then you need this information:
General FTP with Internet Explorer
General FTP with NetScape Navigator
This should work in a similar fashion as above.
FTP to Tripod Using Internet Explorer / NetScape
I recommend you use the newest version of IE / Netscape possible.
If you have problems, or you are not even allowed to log on, then you more then likely typed something incorrect (is caps lock on?) or you have exceeded your bandwidth, which means you will have to try back in 1 - 3 hours. If neither is the case, try logging on to tripod in one window, and FTPing in another, sometimes it just works.
General Uploading Tutorial For On Site File Uploaders
This is quite possibly the most cumbersome way to get files to your web space provider, but also usually the only option for some free servers.
This tutorial is really general, and not meant for any particular web space provider.
Now your file will upload, and allow you to upload more files. Some web space providers allow you to upload 5, 10, or even 20 files at a time. GeoCities allows you to pick a higher amount of files to upload at one time.
Making Non Image/HTML Files Available For Download
To allow downloading of non-HTML/image files, you simply upload the file to your server (typically a .zip / .exe file) as you would any other, and make a link to the file on one of your web pages, like so:
<a href="myfile.zip">Click Here for myfile.zip</a>
Maintaining Your Website / Updating
It's important that you keep your website updated regularly to keep people coming back.
What I prefer to do is keep a "master copy" of my website on my hard drive, and every time I change files, I then FTP them using the above methods, and erasing the old copies. It's a good idea to edit files on your own computer, and then upload them to your web space provider later.
To edit a .html file: