Advantages and Disadvantages of Ning's Free Social Networks & What You Need to Know About Hosting Your Sites

Ning Free Social Network LogoDid you know that with Ning.com, you can actually create a whole new social network—which can have users signing up; forums; video, audio sharing; blogs; events; and much more. Almost everything you need on a social network completely free. Here we will see the good and bad of this service.

When it comes to advantages, Ning has several of them. Firstly, it is completely free. A social network around a website or blog is a great thing to have. It helps interact more with your blog’s readers. You can have forums for your users to post comments, suggestions, or queries; you can have the blog feature to have your users to share their blog entries; and you can pretty much promote your blog through this social network.

Hence, it is great to have a good social network around your blog. If you have a good loyal readership, then consider creating a social network at Ning.

But the service has a disadvantage, I need to get your attention to.

For every online service, what you should be most careful about is how much robust it is. How many users it can manage in a month. Within Ning, though everything is free, there is a catch in the form of a limit. It gives you only ultimate storage capacity of 10 GB and monthly data transfer bandwidth of 100 GB. Which means when you cross these limits, you have to pay to get another unit of 10, 100. When you cross that too, purchase yet another unit, and so on.

While I started CuteWriting on Blogger, one of the primary concerns was how to have any number of users for my blog. Blogger has an unlimited storage capacity and unlimited bandwidth. Which means during a whole month, it can serve any number of users.

From a social network, we expect to see a lot more interaction than a normal blog. Facebook has several millions of users visiting every single day. Digital Point Forums has several hundreds of users at every point of time. So these sites explode out of their monthly limits quite fast.

With 100 GB bandwidth, we can estimate this: With a large enough social network at Ning, if you get thousand viewers daily and they make an average of 5 MB data transfer each on a particular day, daily data transfer will be 5 GB. Which means in a month, it will cause 150 GB of bandwidth—way beyond the Ning limit. As a result, you cannot naturally grow this social network to 2000 or more users.

Without purchasing more bandwidth, the social network simply will not be available.

When your blog grows in readership, you are sure to hit thousands of subscribers and many thousands of them will sign up to your social network and forums. In such a case, you will have to purchase several units of bandwidth to cater to their needs. Hence it will be a greater expense at a later point of time.

Also, this can look like a trap since if there is a popular social network associated with your blog, you will not wish to dispose of it, and you will continue to pay Ning as it grows. The reason may be that moving your entire social network to a different domain can be pretty tedious a job. Though Ning offers a domain hosting method, that is just redirection of your domain to the social network and not a total hosting. For that Ning charges 4 dollars a month.

For any website, I recommend that you go for hosting plans providing unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth is far more important than storage. Storage can be regulated and purchased, while bandwidth is an important consideration for growing websites. Particularly since, a very small population is using the Internet now and several millions of people still need to learn about it. In the years to come, the Internet will grow to a billion more users and the current blogs and websites will continue to grow in popularity. At such a time, one cannot stay with bandwidth limits.

Every time when you look for a hosting plan, look for the most important thing—the bandwidth. It simply has to be unlimited.

Purchase a web hosting plan from companies like HostGator (aff link), GoDaddy, Lunarpages (aff link), etc., which have very good hosting plans.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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