Ever wanted to make a website?
Well now you have no excuse. In fact, you can host your website for free using this little known trick. I’m not sure why, but nobody seems to know about this trick. I accidentally ran across this help post from Google, and suddenly realized that this is a feature that could be incredibly useful.
Let’s go through the steps
- Download Google Drive and create a Google Drive account
- Create an HTML website, or simply download a starter project
- Now you have your website, but you need to host it! Upload the website files to Google Drive and put them in a new folder
- Go to drive.google.com, sign in, right click on the folder with your website files and click “Get Link”
- The link will look something like this:
See that part after the “id=”? Copy that long ID down in a separate notepad or word document. That’s your document ID. You’ll need it later.
- Right click on the website folder again in Google Drive.
- Click Share, then Advanced
- Click Change, and set the permission to “Public – On the Web”. Your website is now accessible by anyone if they know how to access it.
- Remember that document ID I had you write down? Well, now you can go to
http://googledrive.com/host/YOUR DOCUMENT ID GOES HERE
This will take you to your website! Cool, huh?
So, how is this useful?
Well, now every change you make to your website files in your local google drive folder on your computer, not just on drive.google.com will be propagated to that website address. This allows you to make incremental changes to your website and see the results instantly by going back to that web address.
Now, there are other ways to do this on your computer such as visiting the file with your browser on a local host, but there are some features of websites that are blocked due to cross-domain security issues, which cannot be resolved unless you actually host the website.
What are the limitations?
To start, I’m not entirely sure how long this functionality will remain in Google Drive. It’s not a well-publicized feature, and so it probably also isn’t very highly utilized. Google tends to get rid of things that aren’t highly utilized, so we’ll see how long this lasts.
In addition, this hosting solution should only be used for rapid prototyping. DO NOT host your website on Google Drive permanently and tell all your friends to go visit that link, because it probably isn’t as secure as actually hosting your website on a dedicated or shared hosting site. This should only be used for personal or internal development purposes.
Finally, certain server languages cannot be run on Google Drive. Unfortunately this is trial and error so if you are not sure, you will have to experience at your own risk.
Is this really free, or are there some strings attached?
Other than the limitations I mentioned, there are no strings attached at all! It will not cost you a single penny! Now, you do have to keep in mind that once your website is complete and ready to launch to the public and attract millions of views to make you rich, you’re probably going to want to buy a dedicated or shared hosting solution. But then all you need to do is copy the website files over to your host, and BAM — Instant production-level website. Cool, huh?
Featured photo credit: Silhouette of cropped shot of a young man working from home using smart phone and notebook computer, man’s hands using smart phone in interior, man at his workplace using technology, flare light via shutterstock.com
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