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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Top 5 Free Hosting Services For Your Podcast

When you are first starting out on your podcasting journey, you may be a little reticent at shelling out your hard-earned cash for a hosting service to store your newly-created podcast masterpieces. You may want to test the water by publishing a few ‘test’ shows to see how things go. In this article, we look at our top 5 free podcast hosting services you can use to provide a home for your podcast content.

When you start podcasting, you must find yourself a hosting service that will allow downloads of large numbers of your media files (e.g. MP3 or video files).

If you choose to place your media files on the same servers where you have your web site, you will often find that after a relatively low number file downloads, you will have reached your monthly bandwidth limit and your site will be off-the-air until you pay for more bandwidth, or until new next monthly allocation starts.

You need to find somewhere to store your podcast media files that will allow large numbers of downloads and the higher bandwidth usage that this entails.

There are plenty of paid-for services that you can purchase, but if you are just dipping your toe in to the podcasting water, you might want to try out some free hosting. Generally, using a free hosting facility will slightly increase the complexity of publishing the podcast (as you are not using an all-inclusive, integrated publishing solution), but it’s probably worth trying if you want to avoid any initial expenditure.

The hosting suggestions shown below are primarily for audio podcasts, but many of them also support video files. However, I have to hold my hands up and admit I have not used them personally for video.

Archive.org


Archive.org is a non-profit organization that was formed to provide an Internet ‘library’. They aim to hold historical copies of web sites & media files to preserve them for future reference and research.

The site allows you to upload your own media files (audio and video) to make them available to the world, and so provides a nice hosting solution.

You will need to create a free account on Archive.org to be able to upload files. Once you have an account, uploading files is relatively straight forward via their web-based uploader - it may take a little bit to figure out the first time you use it, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. FTP uploading is also supported, but only after you have created an FTP directory for each file using the site’s web GUI - it is generally quicker just to use the web-base uploader.

Once you have uploaded your file, it is converted to additional popular formats (e.g. MP3 files are also converted to Ogg Vorbis). After the upload is completed, each media file (e.g. MP3 file) is assigned its own URL (web address) which you can use for your show notes enclosures.

As a free hosting solution, Archive.org is a pretty good no-frills solution. The only downside is the relatively slow upload and download speeds you may experience. There seems to be little in the way of bandwidth or storage restrictions, so as your podcast becomes more popular, you do not have to worry about your files getting taken down or becoming unavailable due to exceeded bandwidth limits.

Mevio.com


Mevio.com is a commercial site that allows you to create an account for yourself and host your podcast files for free.

Mevio.com have been around for quite a while, building their presence as a media company. They have always allowed podcasts of all shapes and sizes to sign-up and freely use their hosting to publish shows. Looking around their web site, they do not publish any details of limits on storage or bandwidth for hosted files (so I assume there are none). They also provide a pretty reasonable download speed for stored files (in my experience). They also offer some very useful statistics to give you an indication of the number of downloads for each of your podcast episodes.

The main draw-back with using Mevio.com as a podcast host is the rather clunky web interface that they provide to manage your show files. It is quite tricky to navigate until you become very familiar with the site, and finding the URL of the actual media file can take quite a bit of hunting down (use the ‘download this’ icon on the show player). Media files can only be uploaded using the web-uploader provided by Mevio.com.

One advantage to using Mevio.com is the fact that you can also use the site to build your show notes and an RSS feed for your show. If you are sure you are going to stay with Mevio.com for the foreseeable future, you can you the site as a one-stop-shop for your all aspects of your podcast (i.e. shows notes, hosting, RSS feed, show player etc.). However, in my experience, it is best to keep your hosting, show notes and RSS feed generation on separate services for maximum flexibility.

Blip.tv


Blip.tv is primarily a video hosting site, so is great for hosting video podcasts. But, they also host audio (e.g. MP3) files as well, so it is equally useful for audio podscasts.

As with the other services discussed, you can sign-up for an account and then use a web-uploader to upload your media files. They offer a free and professional account, but the free account is fine if you are looking to host a non-commercial podcast (check their terms of service for more information).

Their web site is generally very easy and intuitive to use (in my opinion) with a very clean interface, and probably represents the easiest solution for a beginner. There do not appear to be any limits in terms of download bandwidth, though upload file sizes are limited to 1Gb (which I doubt is an issue for many folks - certainly not for audio podcasts). Once a file is uploaded, a direct download URL is available (via the ‘Download’ icon on the episode page) for you to add to your show notes enclosures. The download speed of files from Blip.tv is very reasonable too.

If you are posting video files on Blip.tv, you also have added bonus of automatic distribution to other video sharing networks (e.g. Youtube, iTunes).

Podbean.com


Podbean.com are primarily a paid-for hosting company. However, they do provide a free hosting plan for folks who are new to podcasting and have low (initial) audiences and traffic levels.

Podbean.com provides a free entry level package that allows you to host up to 100MB of media files with a 5GB download limit per month. This would probably be about enough to host your first four 25-minute episodes to see how you get on with their service.

Their service has a very nice intuitive interface to upload your shows, produce your show notes, view download statistics and create your RSS feed. They also have an extensive podcast directory to publicize your show. Being a dedicated paid-for service, there should be no issues with upload/download speeds that may be experienced with other free options discussed in this article.

I think the Podbean.com free hosting plan provides a great way to get a feel for the features and ease-of-use provided by a paid-for service, but can only be used as an initial taster to get your first few episodes published. To publish more episodes, you will need to consider signing up for a Podbean.com paid-for plan, or consider one of the alternatives discussed elsewhere in this article.

Talkshoe.com


Talkshoe.com is not really a hosting service as such, they provide a service which allows you to record teleconference-type calls through a variety of tools (web audio interface, SIP client, phone line) and publish them as podcasts. Each call that is recorded is saved as an MP3 file and then made available from their website (as a podcast).

However, in addition to saving recorded teleconference podcasts, you also have the option to upload MP3 files (no video) to create new episodes. Therefore, you can create your own MP3 recording (i.e. podcast episode) and upload it. The only limitation I can find is that the file cannot be larger than 100MB (which generally gives you in excess of one hour of recording time anyhow), and there are some restrictions on sample rates that may be used.

Episodes are uploaded via a web-uploader and each episode is assigned its own URL to allow you to add it as an enclosure in your show notes. There do not appear to be any limits on storage or download bandwidth, but download speeds of episodes from the site seem a little on the slow side.

Talkshoe.com is probably not the best option to host your podcast files to be honest, as it is not really intended to be a podcast hosting service to be used in this way. But it is an option to try out if you are exploring all of the free options that are available, and is certainly a very good option for creating and hosting community podcasts..

Final Thoughts


Well, there you have it. Five free solutions for your podcast hosting. Each have their own quirks, features and ease/difficulty of use.

My personal recommendation for a totally free solution that scales well going forward is the Blip.tv solution. This is due to the fact that it has a really nice, easy-to-use, clean web interface to manage your files and they are a dedicated media hosting company. My assumption here is that you are a non-commercial podcast, as there are restrictions for commercial content. If you decide that you wish to continue podcasting past your first few episodes, there is also no reason why you can’t continue to Blip.tv to host your files - it will scale with you as your show grows (in terms of content and traffic). Blip.tv has been around for a few years now, so there is little reason to doubt they will be around for a few years to come, providing a home for your podcast files.

I hope you have found this article useful and wish you success with your podcast hosting, whichever solution you may use.


Rating: Beginner
Tags: Hosting, Beginner

Copyright worldwide 2011 Bowden Enterprises

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