GitHub Pages - free website hosting
2 min read

GitHub Pages - free website hosting

From time to time I run into people who want to host a simple (or not so simple, as we'll show later on in this post) website online but don't want to spend money on hosting or even a domain name.

I know there are a lot of alternatives out there for just such a thing, but now I'll talk about one which has the promise of keeping your files online without trying at the same time to fill your pages with ads, referral links or spam the living hell out of you.

github pages + html 5 = love

Many regular internet users don't know about GitHub, and it's something I find normal. GitHub is a place to share code, and a lot of open source projects have their home there for users to view and contribute to them.

One nice feature that GitHub offers though is something called GitHub Pages, which is a feature that allows users to publish content to the web by pushing the files to a GitHub repository. An easier way to put things is that they are hosting your website for you, free of charge.

Now, one of the downsides is the fact that they don't offer advanced functions, such as a database, so popular blogging systems such as Wordpress can't be hosted on GitHub Pages, which only serves .html pages. On the other hand, the majority of users don't really need the full functionality Wordpress offers for example, and could very well use a static blog generator (a system which simply builds .html pages with your content) such as Pelican - which allows you to write your posts in Markdown or reStructuredText and then generates the html files, even allowing comments by using Disqus - or host an image gallery, a personal portfolio, or anything which can be built with HTML+CSS+JS.

All it takes is to set up Git, optionally install a GUI interface such as TortoiseGit,  create an account on GitHub and then follow the simple instructions on Introduction to Pages.

I know this sounds complicated and might put off people, but trust me, it's a fast setup, taking only around 10 minutes to get everything up and running; and once that is done you've got yourself a really safe place to host your website for free, which can withstand a huge influx of visitors (if one of your articles becomes really popular really fast), and without any risks to your data or online identity.

Oh, and they also allow you to use your own domain name for free if you have one available.