Please note: my hosting plans are all a work in progress, everything here is subject to change, but it does give an indication of the direction I’m heading in.

After several years of informally offering hosting services to a number of friends and local businesses, in January 2015 I launched my web hosting mini-business by leasing a virtual private server – a full web server controlled by me, that runs as a virtual machine image on a machine hosted at a large data centre.  This means that I can easily ‘upgrade’ the machine by adding more memory, faster processors and larger hard disk drives whilst enjoying the reliability of an enterprise-class machine that is hosting many virtual images.

The vision is to provide free or cheap hosting to a number of charities, start-up businesses and social enterprises by sharing the cost of web hosting that is easily able to accommodate a number of low traffic sites.  Many companies now offer budget hosting, which is often run on over-stretched servers with little or no customer service or technical support.  By each paying a price equivalent to the lowest budget packages available, together we can enjoy a faster and more reliable service and support those who have no budget at all.

Although I am describing this as a business, I do not foresee making a great deal of money – if any – and in fact I will be losing money through the period where I transition the existing sites over to the new virtual server as I will have to run this in parallel with my previous hosting package.  If I can make enough money to replace or upgrade my laptop every couple of years, then I would be very happy with that, alongside the pleasure of supporting start-up businesses and small charities.

I am not intending to market this or push it as an online business.  The aim is to work from relationships and friendships to build a small community that benefits from cheaper hosting at the low end of the spectrum, and the greater freedom of a wholly owned virtual machine at the higher end.

I will not be able to offer ’24-7′ technical support in the same way that a large company can (although, in reality, I’ve rarely had anything better than a 6 hour response time even on a supposedly professional hosting package), but a small server with an everybody-knows-everybody approach is unlikely to require significant unplanned maintenance.

As with any community, rules help people know where they stand, so long as the rules enable rather than needlessly restrict.  I will be drawing up some terms and conditions over the next few weeks and contacting those I already offer web services to, in order to explain what these plans will mean for the future.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please feel free to contact me on lee@brighterlouder.co.uk