Service & pricing changes finalized

Our recent announcement that we were preparing to make pricing changes provoked quite a bit of discussion that resulted in significant improvements to our plans. (Please see both links if you want more information about the rationale and justification for these changes; both have been discussed in exhaustive detail.)

Those plans have now been finalized, and we will begin phasing them in this month.

Support Changes

We have broken up our human-provided support into three categories.

System Problem Reports

Any full member (sorry, not adjuncts) may submit a system problem report when they find something of ours malfunctioning that is affecting them. This might mean a site is down, or a MySQL process is crashed, or the member UI is giving them an error whenever they try to frotz the burin.

We will investigate the report as soon as we can (even outside our support hours if possible) and provide a brief response including a predefined finding and, at our option, a comment of up to one line. (This makes system problem reports not suitable for asking for other types of help.)

Assistance Requests

When a member needs us to do something that they are not able to do for themselves, either due to security limitations or a feature gap in our member interface, they can open an assistance request. These are no-cost support requests on specific topics that offer prepared guidance as far as what they encompass and what information you need to provide (if any). Examples include adding ssh keys, transferring stuff to someone else, or (whimper) canceling your membership.

We will take care of assistance requests during our regular support hours.

Secure Support Requests

These are the “catchall” for issues not covered by the other two avenues and not suitable for our member forums, and questions not covered by our FAQ or member wiki. This includes issues where you need us to investigate something on your behalf or provide basic advice about how our system works that isn’t covered elsewhere and isn’t suitable for our forum.

The following topics are specifically excluded from secure support issues because they are simply beyond the scope of the support we have the resources to provide:

  • training of any sort
  • web page design, uploading or consulting
  • help using or configuring third-party software
  • programming or debugging assistance
  • re-explanation of things documented elsewhere on our site, other than very specific questions that have straightforward answers

Effective August 15th, 2009, you will need to have support points to open secure support issues. Support points will be available 10 for $5.00. They never expire, and can be “sold back” if you close your membership.

Each response we send you on a particular issue will carry a point cost from zero to ten points based on the time we spend and the complexity of the request, as determined by us. That cost will be deducted from your support points balance. If your support request requires multiple responses (e.g. multiple questions or back-and-forth exchanges), each response from us may carry a separate point cost. If you run out of support points, open tickets will be suspended until you add more, and new ones will not be able to be created.

The option to mark a secure support issue of “high” priority will be available for an extra up-front point cost: two support points during support hours and five support points outside support hours. While we frequently respond to “high” priority requests submitted outside business hours, we cannot guarantee any specific response time, only that we will look at them as soon as we can and, if necessary, move them to the front of the line when support opens.

Once the system has been operating for a few months, we will try to gather and make available some statistics about how much support requests cost to help members plan accordingly.

Service Pricing Changes

We are implementing five pricing changes:

Before After
Dynamic Web Sites $0.00/day $0.01/day
Domain Name Service $0.00/day $0.01/day – $0.01/9-days
First MySQL Process $0.01/day $0.02/day
Additional MySQL Process $0.02/day $0.03/day
Email Forwarding $0.02/day $0.03/day

The exact DNS charge will vary based on whether or not the domain is registered and/or hosted with us. See our public site for complete details; the detail page for each service is linked in the table above.

These changes will go into effect on or after September 1st, 2009 for affected services created after 2PM Eastern time today.

Temporary Grandfathering

Every site, domain, and MySQL process that existed at 2PM Eastern today has been exempted from these pricing changes until at least October 1st, 2009.

Beyond that, we’ve extended the grandfather period for each item by an amount based on when it was created. You will be able to see each “Exempt Until” date in the member interface later today.

The Road Ahead

We will be making many updates to the content of our public and member sites and our FAQ today to reflect these changes, so please bear with us while we go through that process. Once this post is up and our public site is updated, we will be doing a (rare) email notification to all of our members with funded accounts to inform them about the changes.

After that, we still have implementation and testing to do on these changes, so that’ll keep us busy for awhile.

Once that’s done, we do still plan to revise our single storage pricing fee into separate fees for storage and CPU/RAM usage to better apportion hardware costs to the sites that incur them (thereby sharply reducing the cost of hosting sites with large static content). We plan to do that in conjunction with the release of a couple of new features, hopefully within a few months.

Thank you!

Thanks for your patience with us while we worked out the changes that we feel will best befit our goal of continuing to promote legitimate freedom of expression by creating the best and most flexible hosting possible and offering it as affordably as possible to as many people as possible.

I’d like to (again) offer special thanks to the hundreds of people who offered comments, feedback, and suggestions in response to this proposal. You need only look at how different and how much better these changes are than our initial ideas to see what an impact you’ve had.

And, last but not least, thanks for being a member of NearlyFreeSpeech.NET!


I thought I’d update this post to add some of the questions that seem to be getting asked over and over. Quite a bit of this was covered in the pricing discussion in our forums, but we recognize that not everybody wants to read 30+ pages of comments and feedback.

Q. Doesn’t this new pricing make your service very expensive?

No it does not. We ran the numbers, and over 50% of our current paid member accounts will pay less than $18.50 per year with our new pricing based on their current usage. That’s per year, not per month, and it includes domain registration fees, as well as MySQL, DNS, sites, bandwidth, email forwarding, and storage for everything they currently have set up with us.

We are 100% comfortable looking at those numbers and concluding from them that if 50% of our members can host, on average, multiple web sites including their supporting services and domain registration for about $1.50 a month, NearlyFreeSpeech.NET remains very affordable and a great value for small sites and light usage.

For people who work with our system to optimize their usage as much as they can, it’ll be even more affordable.

Q. Is it fair to charge a flat $0.01/day fee to tiny sites that used to pay a few cents per year?

Yes it is.

There are various ways to approach understanding this, but here’s the simplest way to explain it. “Fair” is defined by what happens if everybody does something. So, we ask this question: If every site were a small PHP/CGI-using site that got almost no traffic and got by on pennies per year, would we be able to stay in business from the revenue they generate? Quite simply, the answer is no.

That answer, all by itself, means that tiny sites are currently not paying their fair share. It means a baseline cost exists on a per-site basis regardless of the size of the site. (The details are quite a bit more complex and we’ll have to send you to the discussion thread for that.)

The followup question is: what is that baseline cost that needs to apply per-site to every single site, in order to make sure that we can continue in business if everybody ran tiny sites like that. It turns out that it’s $0.01/day. Every scheme that attempts to shift some or all of that expense to larger sites represents subsidizing small sites by charging large ones more. That is unfair.

Large sites already pay too much, as evidenced by the commenter below who remarked that he recently moved his site because it finally “got big” and implied that doing so was a foregone conclusion. Sadly, he’s not wrong. So, charging them more in order to preserve the “small site subsidy” is not an option.

We do understand that this is hard for many people to understand. We have spent seven years telling them that only machine costs matter, that it doesn’t cost anything to have people around to run the equipment for them 24×7, which is completely wrong, and we haven’t done anything to discourage “site sprawl” where people create sites at the drop of the hat because “they don’t cost anything.” These changes represent a huge shift, and we understand that some people will take time to adjust, and a few may not be willing or able to do so.

Q. Is it fair that all dynamic sites pay the same fee regardless of how processor intensive they are?

As far as the baseline fee which, as outlined above, we believe is fair for every site even if it does nothing at all, yes.

Beyond that, no. However, that isn’t a function of the per-site fee. Rather, the unfairness arises from tying sites’ resource-based billing solely to the amount of disk space used, rather than to some combination of disk space, CPU, and RAM. As outlined in the original blog post, this one, and many times in the discussion forums, we recognize and acknowledge the fundamental unfairness of that.

It is something we desperately need to move to correct. We will do so soon, but not now. The reasons for that have been covered elsewhere, so we will summarize them very simply by saying: we need this change to get to that change.

Q. If all this is true, how did you get this far?

At our current size, the founder of our company (that’s me) has been doing the work of 2-3 very expensive full time professionals without getting compensated for it. The effect of this has been to drastically hold down the cost of providing our service, that, even more than large sites, is where the existing subsidy of tiny sites comes from.

This introduces two problems. First, it doesn’t scale. As we continue to grow, the quantity of work increases but the quantity of founder does not. Second, it makes the operation of the company unacceptably dependent on one person; if anything bad ever happens to that person, the company and every member will be screwed because the money won’t be there to hire.

We’ve reached a point where we were faced with two choices: continue down that road and watch the quality of our service spiral into oblivion or take concrete steps to ensure that we have the people and resources to provide a strong, stable, sustainable organization that can provide the quality level we consider acceptable without being critically dependent on a single person who must never get sick, take a day off, or be killed by a falling bus. We chose the latter.

Q. How do I mark my site(s) as static so I won’t be charged the dynamic site fee?

Please see this entry in our FAQ.

We will provide additional reference information about static sites in the near future to help you get the most out of them.

Q. How do I minimize the impact of these changes on me?

There are several things you can do:

First and foremost, remove services you set up but aren’t using. This one is huge. So far, of the people who have written private feedback or cancelled, more people have commented that this change prompted them to clean up stuff they forgot about than have said they were put off by the pricing changes. One person said that after cleaning up stuff he wasn’t using, he’ll be paying less with the changes than he was before.

Second, make sure your domains are lined up with our registration, DNS, and hosting wherever possible. The “trifecta” discount for DNS is about 89%. If you’re using our service to provide DNS for random domains that are registered and hosted elsewhere, you’ll want to take a hard look at alternatives.

Third, switch to our static site type for any sites you have that don’t need scripting (PHP & CGI support). This includes the majority of sites built with web design tools.

Fourth, if you have a bunch of dynamic sites or multiple MySQL processes, explore what opportunities you may have to consolidate them. We will do a whole blog post sometime in the next few weeks discussing various options in this area. We also plan to offer features that will greatly enhance the power and flexibility of each site, a side effect of which will be making consolidation even easier, but of course we can only do that if doing so is financially viable (meaning we need these changes to be already in place).

Fifth, if you are using are email forwarding service, make sure you’re not doing so from inertia. It is a giant pain for us to maintain and eats a lot of resources, and it is priced accordingly. We consider it undoubtedly the worst value proposition of any service we offer as far as what you get for what you pay for. If you need it, we have it, but there are a lot of really good alternatives that are worth a look.

Q. Do you plan to give bulk discounts to people with tons of tiny sites?

We do not; this is behavior that incurs real costs for us. Such a plan would simply unfairly shift those costs onto people who use less services.

What we will do in the future is provide additional ways to do more with fewer sites, as outlined above.

Q. What are the moderation criteria for comments?

We have been able to approve almost all of the comments people have made on this posting, with a handful of exceptions.

Comments will not be approved if they:

  • Ask questions that are off-topic or too tangential. (Please post them in our forums.)
  • Repeat questions that have already been asked and answered.
  • Threaten or insult us or other commenters
  • Factually misrepresent the changes or their effects (such as claiming that we’ve instituted a fee to report system problems).

Most of that should be common sense, but we wanted to be very clear about it anyway.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. This is great news! I love nearlyfreespeech! Thanks for the awesome hosting so far.

    Comment by Xarver — August 1, 2009 #

  2. I very very happy with the pricing!

    I like the way static/dynamic website are charged. Makes a lot of sense. It reiterates the stance of NFS being the best option for a simple website. Now this policy does not compromise the service received by more complex sites. Now I can say that NFS will the best option for both a starter and a complex website.

    The cost of support also fantastic!

    Overall, Thanks for discussing all of this with us!

    Comment by Kumar — August 1, 2009 #

  3. Oh no! I’ll still be paying almost nothing for superb web hosting! What am I to do?!?! 🙂

    Thanks for the notification on the price increases anyhow. NFS continues to be awesome.

    Comment by Alan — August 1, 2009 #

  4. I think NFS is the best. I use you for all of the websites that I build and my clients are very happy as well. The price change isn’t at all huge and the fact remains that the economy is what it is and to continue to give us all the best service, I wouldn’t expect anything different. Thanks again for being the best and for allowing me and my clients great ease of mind where hosting is concerned. Cheers, kimberlie

    Comment by Kimberlie — August 1, 2009 #

  5. Sounds good 🙂 Love your service and your transparency as always.

    Comment by John — August 1, 2009 #

  6. As someone with small bandwidth requirements but LOTS of small sites hosted, this will be a big hit for me. The ability to host many small sites and just pay for bandwidth was one of the main draws to NFS for me, so I’m a bit troubled by this. Are there specific reasons why users with many small sites should be specifically targeted? Maybe its covered in your blog posts. I’ll do some calcs, but it looks likely that I might have to seek alternatives for the first time in a few years…

    I would suggest you visit our forums and ask for advice about consolidating your small sites or using the new “static” type that doesn’t incur the same fee. -jdw

    Comment by Kris Bird — August 1, 2009 #

  7. I can only echo the comments above, I have enjoyed great service and prices for years now and look forward to many more.

    Comment by Goldfish Guy — August 1, 2009 #

  8. =SUM(*ABOVE)

    Comment by Paul — August 1, 2009 #

  9. I chose NFS because of the price. These changed may cause me to move away from NFS for another service.
    The price benifit that NFS had I think will be lost because of these changes.

    Comment by Jedite — August 1, 2009 #

  10. Bummer. Not a big change, thankfully, I just need to watch and possibly communicate a change to all of my clients. I still promote you guys as the simplest and cheapest host out there for small / medium sites. Thanks for being transparent!

    Comment by Luke Rumley — August 1, 2009 #

  11. I am beyond satisfied with your service and prices, even after the modest price increases. Thanks!

    Comment by Isaac Holeman — August 1, 2009 #

  12. I am extremely supportive of these changes and look forward to continuing service with NFSN, with new features and better service.

    Comment by CCN — August 1, 2009 #

  13. It was great while it lasted, but with these changes, it’s not feasible for me anymore. Disappointed with the email forwarding price too.

    Comment by Nick — August 1, 2009 #

  14. Thank you for involving customers in your pricing structure change. Not many companies would even consider such a forthright sharing of information. Your charges are still very reasonable. I am looking forward to a long relationship with NFSN!

    Comment by Jeff — August 1, 2009 #

  15. Well NFS does have the monopoly on quality, price and style, so carry on!

    Comment by Mark Somerville — August 1, 2009 #

  16. Save me the research on this one question please: how much additional staffing do you hope to “support” with these changes? One FTE or what?

    These prices are designed to provide an appropriate level staffing to service our member’s needs, even as the number of members we have changes. Trying to correlate that to a specific number of people would imply advance knowledge of the future size of our member base and the makeup of the services they use that we currently do not have. -jdw

    Comment by KC — August 1, 2009 #

  17. Interesting.

    I’ll see how long my balance lasts, work out the cost differences with my old hosting provider, and make an informed decision on how I want to go now.

    It’s pretty difficult to do an apples to apple comparison on the quoted figures, given the variables. But I know I was paying roughly $7/mo at my old provider. Existing pricing levels puts me at right around $5-6/mo, and I think the new charging structure will push me over $7. And that’s without the option for SSL.

    I’ve got stuff to consider.

    Comment by Stace — August 1, 2009 #

  18. I really can’t agree with the DNS charges, as it seems like a regressive rate (similar to the MySQL or email forwarding charge.) It only comes down to about $0.41/domain/yr, but that might just push it past the threshold making other registrars, or a free DNS service, a better option.

    Regardless, NFS is still the best deal in town (that I’ve found at least) for small site hosting, but I might move my DNS to save a dollar or two, just like I use a different free service for email forwarding, which is unfortunate. I do appreciate how modular NFS is though to allow us to just “take our business elsewhere” if we don’t like one specific aspect. So, I guess props to NFS there.

    Comment by Paul — August 1, 2009 #

  19. These changes are tripling the cost of my site. That said, all I’ve really been paying is $0.30/month for MySQL (because I’ve been too lazy to change over to SQLite), so the new price will be… still incredibly low.

    Aside from the price, I’ve been really attracted by the overall attitude of the site. I’d pay extra for that no-crap approach.

    Comment by Xiong Chiamiov — August 1, 2009 #

  20. So wait, if I don’t want or use support, but rather, just use the hosting (just a few small images) and the e-mail forwarding, I won’t have to pay any monthly fee, right?

    I’d recommend using the Pricing Estimator to get a handle on how the changes will affect you. It’s definitely the case that if you don’t want or use member support, you will continue not paying for it. -jdw

    Comment by H.R. — August 1, 2009 #

  21. These changes are more than reasonable, and anyone who is freaking out over them needs to look around and realize that NFS is one of a kind, and unlike so many other companies, is raising their price specifically so that they can provide better service.

    Comment by Milas — August 2, 2009 #

  22. This is going to likely quadruple how much I’m paying for hosting here. Considering I’ve not made any money off of these sites, that’s really annoying.

    I just started using includes for most of my sites so I only needed to update one file for all the pages. I have a feeling the disk-space savings won’t make up for $3.65/yr fee on dynamic sites.

    Comment by Webster — August 2, 2009 #

  23. I guess I’ll go against the grain here by saying that I’m not a fan of the new prices, event though I understand the reasoning behind (some of) them. I already posted a lengthy rant on this topic in the forums so I won’t do that here.

    Thankfully, NFSN’s approach to long term contracts or payment for 10 years in advance means that this is a “let’s see how this works out” moment, and not a “OH GOD LET ME OUT OF HERE” one.

    Comment by mobby_6kl — August 2, 2009 #

  24. So, the cost of hosting my sites is nearly doubled.

    I think it’s time for me to start looking for a new host [again]. How unfortunate, things were starting to look nice for me here.

    Comment by Jason Oster — August 2, 2009 #

  25. Hmmm… Let’s see, now I have to pay $0.01 per day to keep my simple PHP cms going. Geez, that’s like a whole $0.30 per month, or $3.65 per year. Let’s see… I think I can handle that. Thanks for the great service.

    Comment by clamshell — August 2, 2009 #

  26. I’m sorry to be an idiot, I’m just not sure on how this is going to affect me – I have two sites, with domains registered at NFS, neither of which gets much traffic or has much stored on it (one is my portfolio site for when I need to look for work and the other is a sandbox, at the moment.) I’m not particularly well-versed in the technical details. Right now the only things that cost me more than a penny every six months or so are the domain names and the privacy options. Does this mean I don’t have a dynamic web site? I don’t think I do (shouldn’t I know if I do??)

    I’ve hunted around for any clue as to what’s going to change on the various domain name and site info pages and I’m not seeing anything. It’s making me feel pretty dumb, to be honest.

    You have to switch your site(s) to static if you want to avoid the per-site fee. Here’s how to do that. If you’re not sure whether it’ll work, you can always switch it and then switch it back if it doesn’t. We’ll do a whole blog post soon devoted to showing people various ways to save money while using our services. -jdw

    Comment by Sarah — August 2, 2009 #

  27. Hehe, I got the email, and quickly checked to see the new prices with a bit of panic. And, of course, nfs still has amazingly low prices.


    But, im just kinda worried about the domain name service, because doesnt it cost like $9 to set it up.

    Domain registration is currently $8.59/year (price unchanged). There’s no set-up fee for DNS. -jdw

    Comment by DreamPhreak — August 2, 2009 #

  28. So far, it’s liveable, I speak as one who has lived below the poverty line for most of my adult life and I can afford it, and without economic basics the service can’t be maintained. I had wondered whether the business volumes were so high that my little bit of business could even be profitable. I can adjust my behavior so needs can be met, and I’m the one who’s behind on site development. At the moment, having read the blog post and glanced in the forum topic, I have no complaint.

    (I’m the last Nick, not the other.)



    Comment by Nick — August 2, 2009 #

  29. Well, with all these price increases, I…will still be paying less for all my sites than I would elsewhere. (It helps that most of them can be switched over to static, I admit.)

    Comment by Devin Harris — August 2, 2009 #

  30. I moved my newest site yesterday from NFS and it had nothing to do with the price increase. My costs for July hit 25.57,(June was $13, May $9)

    What this means is the traffic on my commercial site warranted a move.

    But NFS is a great incubator, I learned a lot here,I am big on self-support and use the forums.

    And during the 6 months or so I tinkered around with my new site I was paying less than a dollar a month!


    So I am not leaving NFS (why close an account & who would part with that built in bandwidth pricing?)

    Its just time to start a new project! 😉

    Comment by DeWayne — August 2, 2009 #

  31. This sounds reasonable enough. I run a pretty heavily used, complex site and it ups my costs by about a dollar a month.

    Admittedly, I’m still kind of holding my breath for the processor/memory changes. Those might hit pretty hard.

    Either way, I love the service! Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Landon Winkler — August 2, 2009 #

  32. If anyone is going to change hosting over $3.65 a year, then I say no big loss. These changes are OK with me. 🙂

    Comment by Gigs — August 2, 2009 #

  33. Wow, this will cost me 35 times the amount I currently pay per year. A 3500% price increase.

    It still isn’t that much total but a big change.

    Comment by NFSUser — August 2, 2009 #

  34. Thanks for this motivation/reminder to do some long-neglected housekeeping. It’ll save me money in the long run, for sure.

    Just finally turned off DNS for some long-defunct sites, deleted a few that haven’t been active in years, and switched a couple more over to “static” that absolutely have no CGI or PHP on them anyway.

    Comment by ken — August 2, 2009 #

  35. Thanks for the great service. I am glad you continue with the user pays principle, as long as you keep up this fair approach I will stay with you.

    Comment by Peter — August 2, 2009 #

  36. Overall it does not seem expensive, I just wish it was easier to work out the pricing structure.

    Comment by Frank — August 2, 2009 #

  37. I’ve never been more content with a host than I have been with NFSN and I feel that these pricing changes are modest and are not great enough to make me feel any different. I’m glad for the transparency!
    If the pricing changes are necessary to keep up the level of service and to keep NFSN running then that sounds fair to me.

    Comment by Gideon — August 2, 2009 #

  38. The biggest advantage of Nearly Free Speech is lack of censorship of its content. While the price is also very relevant, i am going to keep at least some of my sites here.

    I completely agree with the pricing scheme for the support.

    Comment by Volodya — August 2, 2009 #

  39. Unfortunately, I’m one of those who affected great amount of money. As far as I calculated the amount I pay increases about 100% (it increased about 33$).

    NFS always said that their difference was that they charge money as much as you use the system but it has changed now. We will pay 3.65 for every site (it is hard to find any static site these days you know) 3.65 for DNS for each of them, 3.65 more for MySQL database, 3.65 more for email forwarding service and if you have 3-4 sites and 3-4 DNSs for them and using the email forwarding service and using MySQL (like me), you are affected pretty much.

    And charging people for opening support tickets? Sorry but this is ridiculous…

    NFS increased their income nearly 100% with these new changes, I think. Do you really need that?

    I switched to NFS a few months ago because it saved me nearly 20$ compared to my old hosting provider (which I used for nearly 4 years) but now it takes more than my old company. I guess I better start looking for alternatives…

    Comment by Canol Gokel — August 2, 2009 #

  40. I can appreciate the need to try filter out time-wasters, by charging; but I’m not sure it’s clear how it’s going to work.

    It sounds like you have to buy credit before you can log a request of either three types… but then you get a refund if it (is determined that it) falls into two categories?

    …and I’m not entirely sure that categories make sense… there could be a fair bit of overlap for some issues.

    So, it sounds like whatever you do, you’ll still end up having to sort some requests into the “right” category… how many people correctly use a priority setting for a request!
    (I usually put low, because I assume that most people won’t, so it’ll get noticed and dealt with quicker!).

    I think it would make sense (i.e.: help achieve your objectives) to charge a nominal amount for all requests… but rate them differently; e.g.:

    (I’m using pounds, shillings, and pence of course!)

    system issue: 2p
    security admin: 1p
    user support: 3p

    then have a priority multiplier:
    low: x 1
    mid: x 2
    high: x 3

    …so someone reporting a MySQL crash and setting it as a low priority would pay 1 penny; someone bothering you with a “how to” request would pay 9p!

    I’m sure that the overwhelming majority appreciate NFS and come to it precisely because of what it offers and how it operates, and would be quite happy to pay such minor sums to keep the show on the road – great customer service is priceless!

    That’s my thruppence ha’penny anyway!

    Comment by Sparrow — August 2, 2009 #

  41. As a user with lots of small sites, this will be a very big hit (does going from $0.15 -> $15 a month make sense?).

    I recognize that I could use a $5/all-u-can-eat host, since they usually don’t care about large number of low-hit sites, as long as none of them generate *real* traffic.
    But I was actually happy here, and don’t really want to leave.

    If there is a solution, please make a blog post or perhaps wiki page
    describing the steps.
    (I didn’t understand what was said about “static”, and running through the forums is something I don’t look forward to.)

    I also have some comments on the email/domain, but it *is* your prerogative to choose prices, even if they push off some clients.

    Comment by SamGoody — August 2, 2009 #

  42. I’m going to investigate how I can consolidate, etc., and hopefully I can keep down the costs which I feel will specifically and disproportionately hit my personal hosting setup.

    One quick question, though– isn’t one of NFS’s core policies to only charge for what people use?

    Therefore isn’t a fixed charge on dynamic hosting and email forwarding inherently unfair? A site which uses server-side processing extensively but uses relatively little storage and bandwidth will be subsidised by others.

    Is it not possible to do a scalar at the bottom end of the scale, such as..

    dynamic_charge = ( min(dynamic_page_hits, 10000) / 1000 ) * dynamic_charge

    forwarding_charge = ( min(forwarded_mails, 1000) / 1000 ) * forwarding_charge

    Comment by Kris Bird — August 2, 2009 #

  43. OK, static means no PHP.

    A fully outfitted low usage site (DNS, PHP, MYSQL) is $.07 a day, or over $2/mo.
    40 of these sites… bad news.

    So for us users that have many low resource sites, its VERY unwise to hang around.

    Perhaps you guys can offer a service for users with such profiles. Pretty please?!

    So sad. 🙁

    I see you have removed the claim of being cheap – For the many users with 2+ domains, you are MORE EXPENSIVE than ANY OTHER large host (Godaddy, 1&1, Hostgater, etc.)

    The advantage for high traffic sites that are unwanted elsewhere, still exists.

    So sad 🙁

    Comment by SamGoody — August 2, 2009 #

  44. I fully support the addition of charges for ‘hand holding’ support, I work in a similar environment myself and personally find it disgusting how some people suddenly decide they can read the manual for themselves when the magic word ‘chargeable’ comes up.

    I would, however, suggest you do a “Microsoft” and explicitly allow your support people to waive the charge if it seems reasonable. There are after all going to be times when a random “help” highlights something that’s actually broken.

    I’m not so happy about the ‘static’ vs ‘dynamic’ wall though, my problem is that it isn’t just a switch. At one extreme there is the wordpress CMS, running thousands of lines of code for every hit, at the other there is the html/jpg site where everything is served using sendfile(). But in between you have everything from a few tiny scripts like a PHP mailer or a guest book through a hyper efficient CMS that only runs code to actually alter pages to things like a copy of wordpress that’s been properly optimised (still heavy but much better than the worst case).

    While the “dynamic” pricing is closer to your costs and the price is still very good it still doesn’t seem very fair and won’t actually encourage people to use more efficient CGI code.

    Personally, I can turn off scripting (most of the time) without any real problem (thanks for the instant switchover ability!) but frankly, if people think they’re paying for “all you can eat” scripting I think they’re likely to get fat … scripts without ever considering that thinner scripts can do the job they need.

    Hopefully, your “road ahead” hint about CPU/RAM will replace the scripting switch?

    Comment by robert — August 2, 2009 #

  45. Congrats on sorting out a sustainable scheme!

    Customers will come and go, but it’s the continued reliable service that matters.

    Comment by Nathan Jones — August 2, 2009 #

  46. No problem with the increase. Would love to see NFSN to grow further to provide us latest technology.

    Comment by Pothi — August 2, 2009 #

  47. You guys rock. As an IT guy I can say that your support is excellent, and unbeatable for the price. +++ Would use again +++!!!

    Comment by Graham Powell — August 2, 2009 #

  48. After carefully considering these new charges, I find them acceptable, not to mention logical. I missed the entire discussion, but can’t immediately think of how to add to it, except for the niggling on-line Web statistics problem mentioned below.

    The doubling of the daily fee for a first MySQL process only comes to another $3.65 a year, and that single process can still be used if needed for multiple databases for low-demand sites. The additional daily fee for “dynamic” sites is reasonable enough, given the load they place on CPU and RAM resources, even if it is slightly annoying that *all* CGI processes will be turned off for “static” sites, including the traffic report program. One supposes that the log files can be downloaded and run through an off-line traffic analysis program, though.

    I was initially concerned about the additional charges for support requests, but see that only “soft” requests incur additional charges, with “hard” requests (meaning for those actions that cannot be handled at all by the customer, even if he knows in theory how to do them) remaining within the scope of standard memberships. Anyone with any knowledge of the business of Web hosting or of any business at all, knows how terribly expensive it is to handle customer support. The new charges are a quite reasonable way to handle the problem of support personnel wanting to eat pizza and have clothes and medical insurance and an apartment just like everyone else.

    I especially appreciate the setup, regardless, of the class of “static” sites which incur no additional charges for tiny sites that are in essence parked domain names.

    Finally, the DNS fees and email forwarding fees appear (still) to be irrelevant to myself, because I use the provided DNS and email forwarding services of my own domain name registrar(s), plus those of one well-known semi-free DNS service.

    Comment by Crafty Hunter — August 2, 2009 #

  49. As usual, you all amaze me with your ability to offer great service at fantastic prices; even after the price hike.

    Thank you sincerely for your hard work.

    Comment by LNK — August 2, 2009 #

  50. So if I continue to use a CGI send mail form on the Contact page of my website, I will end up paying roughly double what I do now? Doesnt seem totally fair, someone running a huge database and someone with a simple send mail form paying the same fee, especially since the send mail form was setup completely without the help of nearlyfreespeech. Granted, its not a large amount of money in the end but its still double what I currently pay.

    I thought this was one of the main benefits of the nearlyfreespeech system; instead of having a simple automated form generator like most other web hosts, I hit google, research for an hour or so, set up the feature myself, learn something new, and dont have to pay extra because I did the legwork without nearlyfreespeech tech support?

    It would be nice if the price increase came with a tangible feature increase, like some simple form generators, send mail, hit counter, guestbook, bbs, stats, etc. It wouldnt matter at all for me since ive installed everything I need but it would certainly help for new customers as well as possibly convincing some people to stay for the sake of convenience regardless of the price increase.

    Comment by David — August 2, 2009 #

  51. This is a massive blow to me, as I think it’s going to mean I’ll have to move from NFS. I’ve loved the service up till now, as it’s meant I could run quite a few extremely low traffic websites for something like $25 a year including domains, but using the price estimator just now I got handed an estimate of $66.95 – needless to say that’s a massive price hike for me, and I just plain don’t think I can afford that.

    Gonna have to have a serious think about my options now – most disappointing.

    Make sure you’re including domain registration costs in your “old price.” We’ve found that several people mentally factor them out when they aren’t presented right in front of you, the way the estimator does. A $40/year increase implies you’ve got 10+ things going on that got touched by these pricing changes. -jdw

    Comment by Joey — August 2, 2009 #

  52. Seems reasonable enough, I suppose. One thing that confused me was a missing word in this sentence:

    “These changes will go into effect on or September 1st, 2009 for affected services created after 2PM Eastern time today.”

    Can you clarify the “Grandfathering” part a little? In what way is it “based on” when the items were created? Do older or newer things have a longer grandfather period? What is the motivation behind this? I do think it’s a good idea as it gives people a chance to figure out what to do in response to these pricing changes.

    I fixed the missing word, thanks! Older things tend to have a longer grandfather period, but there’s a slightly anomaly with the way we track the creation date of really old domains that keeps us from just saying “it’s a fraction of how long the thing has been around.” The motivation for the grandfather period is as you say, to give people time to figure out what to do. The motivation for making it longer for older stuff is ostensibly that the more entrenched something is, the longer it might need to adapt, but it’d be silly to pretend that it wasn’t also a nod to the loyalty of our long time members. -jdw

    Comment by Gabriel Durazo — August 2, 2009 #

  53. Looks pretty reasonable. It would be nice if there was a tool to change the “site type” on multiple sites at once (and to check the “site type” on multiple sites at once for that matter.)

    Keep up the good work!

    We’re looking at ways to communicate site type information en masse on the sites panel without turning it into a cluttered mess. -jdw

    Comment by j-beda — August 3, 2009 #

  54. Brilliant to hear you are making sure you are planning how to be around for the long haul – I do not want to see NFS burn out.

    Personally I have some antipathy towards points systems: every points system I have I have used in the past has always felt like it cheated me (e.g. do you really like airpoints, or loyalty points!??!). Using dollars from my account feels more transparent – and on the surface seems easier for me to understand. But it isn’t a biggie – it should only cost me some extra angst to convert from dollars to points, and I will include a derating factor for the value of points to me versus dollars 🙂

    I am pleased you are motivated by those that appreciate your service, rather than get distracted by an outspoken minority above who only want cheapness. I hope that the gratitude of those who love NFS greatly outweighs the lack of grace shown by a minority.

    If any of you are ever visiting Christchurch, New Zealand, then contact me and I will be happy to do something for you personally (rather than just just my impersonal dollars).

    Comment by Morris — August 3, 2009 #

  55. Can’t really find another way to reply to you reply to my comment, so I’ll just comment again… I -do- have 12 sites over two accounts, as well as 2 registered domains, so this is a depressing blow. the real problem is that although I have a lot of sites, none of them really get very much in the way of traffic, so it’s unreasonable for the way I use the service to be charged in this way; though I fully understand that this is because I’m in the minority for setting up that many sites that use PHP. I just wish that I wouldn’t have to either leave NFS or downsize my usage; really a sad day for me. =(

    Consolidation would be the option you would want to look at, then. If current tools don’t offer what you need in that regard, and you’re unwilling to wait around for us to build new ones, then that’s the point at which you’d want to consider alternative hosts. -jdw

    Comment by Joey — August 3, 2009 #

  56. I’d much rather consolidate than find another host; I love the principals your company is based on, and have recommended your service to everyone I know who was starting a website. For my usage though the charge for dynamic sites is unfortunately unaccommodating; I’m pretty sure I’m not using much CPU time, even though I -do- have a lot of sites – my average monthly bandwidth is less than 100mb. It unfortunately seems that what I’ll have to do is replace some of my PHP-based sites with static versions to avoid excessive costs.

    What “consolidation” means is not “getting rid of stuff.” It means taking two or more existing dynamic sites and stacking them inside one that looks at what name is being asked for when deciding how to answer. There are various ways of accomplishing this, which is what we’ll be posting about in the future. -jdw

    Comment by Joey — August 3, 2009 #

  57. These changes won’t really have much effect on me. Love you guys! (and gals, natch)

    Comment by Cris — August 3, 2009 #

  58. As I have been several times in the past, I am once again impressed with the integrity, honesty and forthrightness of NFS and jdw. I have absolute confidence that no-thing is changed without careful thought, attention to detail and pondering of consequences. That members are invited to participate in the process and our voices visible in the outcome is… something I just don’t have words for, but it’s good and I like it. Thank you.

    I am in the same boat as David above. I have a couple of low traffic sites who are for all intents and purposes static, except one: a php/cgi contact form. I do hope there will be some means to fairly separate these kinds of sites from truly dynamic ones, where every page is a call to a server side script.

    Comment by matt — August 3, 2009 #

  59. Guys, you provide such a great service that you could double your charges and I’d still love you! Wishing you all the best for the future.

    Comment by Martin — August 3, 2009 #

  60. I’m a bit unsure about domain aliases. I have an insane amount of aliases for two of my sites (there are reasons for that set-up…). Will each of those aliases be counted as a separate domain when the new bills start coming in? Or will “”, “”, “” etc all still be counted as one domain and thus cost just the same as just “”?

    The DNS charge applies to each domain you have DNS for, as shown on the “Domains” tab of our member interface. It is not related to subdomains or site aliases. -jdw

    Comment by Bertil Wennergren — August 3, 2009 #

  61. I think these changes are long overdue. I’ve always thought that although I could not find a cheaper host for myself or others especially with the features, stability, security, and quality I receive here.

    I’ve felt for a long time that services and support was not priced well. ( Free tech support? and I’m NOT paying $20/mo???) I thought space fees would decrease when the SQL charge was added, but it looks like it might finally happen. I really don’t mind paying more in total! I don’t like the idea of subsidizing or being subsidized on a host like this. I’ll gladly pay my fair share. I like to see things becoming more fair. I never understood why a photo album, a WordPress blog with WP_Cache and one without could all cost the same but use vastly differing CPU/RAM.

    Comment by Chris — August 3, 2009 #

  62. Does this mean you’ll get to take a vacation? …and… protect my privacy too? Congrats!

    Comment by tari nz — August 3, 2009 #

  63. I have purchased my domain registrations through NFS (no hosting, only DNS) and the current expiry time for them are close to an year.
    I registered the domain names with the assumption that it’s going to be $8.59 per year. I think it’s unfair to change the pricing structure in the middle, because you have an obligation to provide the service that I paid for without asking for more money. When it’s time to renew my domains, then you can give me the option of accepting the new pricing scheme or transferring the domains.

    It is a common misconception that you have to wait until domains are about to expire to transfer them. Once the initial ICANN-mandated 60 day hold drops off, you can transfer any domain at any time with no loss in registration time. Since these changes are at least 60 days out from the time of the announcement, every active domain registered prior to that will be eligible for transfer before the DNS charges go into effect, so if you simply can’t accept the revised DNS pricing, that option will be available to you. Naturally you can change actively registered domains’ DNS servers at any time. -jdw

    Comment by D — August 3, 2009 #

  64. I have to say even with the changes it’ll be cheap. I got into only recently, and it was because nearly empty costs of hosting. This still beats even many others of $5 a month, until I get things all squared away. Like the one point above about sites getting big, I already have a backup, sadly I doubt my websites planned any of them will get really big, so shouldn’t be a problem.

    Comment by Dennis — August 3, 2009 #

  65. Is there any way users of domains not offered by you can benefit from the bulk hosting+DNS+site discount? At the moment, it seems that users with TLDs such as, .pro, .edu, .jobs, etc. are unable to benefit from this simply because you don’t offer these TLDs.

    TLD’s we do not offer for registration can get the hosting+DNS discount, but not the hosting+DNS+registration discount at this time. When the dust settles in a couple of months, we’ll take a look and see if there’s something we can do in that area, but I couldn’t say exactly when or what it might be right now. -jdw

    Comment by uknfs — August 3, 2009 #

  66. Are there any changes to extra charge for enabling InnoDB tables on your MySQL process?

    There are no changes to the “InnoDB surcharge” at this time. -jdw

    Comment by Jonathan — August 3, 2009 #

  67. According to the pricing estimator, I’m facing about a 600% increase in costs. I feel like adding in a threshold for smaller sites would be a good change. For instance, if a site uses <X MB of space and <Y CPU/RAM it would fall under a different pricing scheme than those that are space / performance intensive.

    The blog post explains why the base fee applies to all dynamic sites regardless of size or activity. -jdw

    Comment by Justin — August 3, 2009 #

  68. Oh my god, my hoster just told me that they want to charge me HALF A BEER more each month, whatever shall I do? Egads, my liver will feel neglected!

    Comment by mleithner — August 3, 2009 #

  69. I understand why you’re implementing the $0.01/day charge for dynamic sites, but would it not make more sense to include storage space used by MySQL in the storage charge instead of increasing the per-day fee per MySQL process?

    The per-day fee change for MySQL processes is not related to storage space used by those processes. -jdw

    Comment by Brian — August 3, 2009 #

  70. After the first announcement, I figured out that this is basically going to double my costs.

    I broke down and got a VPS. I’ve already moved most of my sites over to that. I’m going to give it a month or two to make sure I can rely on the VPS before I move everything over. (Keeping a backup just in case, of course)

    This isn’t an “I’m dissatisfied and I’m leaving” rant. I love NFS. But the price hikes are going to put it in a price range that’s not much lower than VPS. $5 extra (over the new NFS rates) is more justifiable than ~ $11 extra (over the current rates). Plus I get full root access, my own IP which lets me do SSL, etc.

    I’ll probably continue to use NFS for domain registration + RespectMyPrivacy, as you guys are among the cheapest for that, and I trust you more than I could ever trust another registrar.

    So, in short, I still love you, but I’m not in love with you. 😛

    Comment by Karl — August 3, 2009 #

  71. I have 3 sites with NFS, I was pretty much happy with what I was paying. It was like $0.01 for MySQL + $0.01 for traffic + $0.01 for space per day. It accounts to c. $10 per year.
    Now I should add $0.03 per day as all my sites are dynamic.
    Total would be around $20 per year.
    Which makes NFS inferior to the competitors for the owners of 3 sites and more, as there are many providers who give much more for this $20 – e.g. (link removed) (I am not advertizing) which is here forever with his $20 deal + you get 2 free domains + after a year you just get another one with them etc. etc. etc.
    Sorry, guys – I would definitely agree to pay for support etc. – but now you are not even cheap with hosting.

    There was quite a bit of debate about whether to approve this comment, since it appears to advocate getting cheaper hosting by defrauding one of our competitors. The link has been removed; if someone is going to advocate treating our competitors that way, they’re going to do it somewhere else.

    The plan you linked to costs $20 for the first year and $120/year after that. That is what’s called a “loss leader.” If your plan to beat our pricing is to “stack” successive loss-leader promos intended for new customers only, I think that speaks volumes about how affordable our service really is.

    Please note no more comments even remotely similar to this are going to get approved. -jdw

    Comment by Viktor — August 4, 2009 #

  72. Echoing most of the above comments, I just want to echo my support and thanks. The new pricing sounds quite fair.

    I’ve been very impressed with your service and ethics, and am happy to pay a little more for them.

    If you start .uk domain registration at any point I’d be quite happy to move my domains over to you too.

    So thanks.

    Comment by Nick — August 5, 2009 #

  73. I choose NFS because you guys not overselling,but if you decide change your pricing ploicy like this,$0.01/day extra fee for each dynamic site,I’m afraid NFS won’t be nearly free anymore,although your service is still affordable.
    According to your Pricing Estimator,a wordpress blog with 75mb storage,3G bandwidth, domain not registerd but hosted by you,it will cost more than $38 per year,higher than asmallorange.
    Is this comment going to be approved?Hey,I am really considering making changes before oct1.

    Comments that meet the guidelines (and don’t advocate fraud) should be approved. I do think your example is not very good, though, as the WordPress blog you posted it to (this one) is significantly busier than the average member WordPress blog, but costs us a whole lot less to run than your made-up numbers, so you’re talking about $38/year to run a very large, very active blog, which seems entirely reasonable. We base our prices on what we believe is fair, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree and make your hosting decision accordingly.

    Beyond that, I’m really not interested in comparisons to other hosting companies’ package pricing plans; no doubt someone can show how silly that is by digging up one of those “X TB for $Y.95/month” plans that come out to a bajillion dollars a year if you plug those “package” numbers into our estimator. Comparing apples and (forgive me) oranges — or anything else — based solely on price is just as bad of an idea as it ever was. We trust that people will continue to consider a lot of options when they choose a host, and that the option they choose will frequently (but not always) be NearlyFreeSpeech.NET. -jdw

    Comment by Ivan — August 5, 2009 #

  74. I have to say, I use your site more for your commitment to upholding the law (no release of information without a warrant, respect for the US Constitution’s 1st amendment, etc.) than for the price. These price changes will likely not affect whether I use this site or not.

    However, given that my site is not for making money, and thus does not pay for itself, I’m trying to figure out what the actual cost to me will be since I don’t make very much money. The accounts page is great for figuring out how much money I have left in my account, but very difficult to figure out how much it costs me per month because debits and cash deposits are combined on the “activity summary” table. Furthermore, it is difficult to filter out one type of cost from another–i.e., separating out bandwith costs to see how they vary, vs. storage costs, so that I can figure out where I need to be more economical.

    Finally, you said that you used for yourself a calculator that estimated what the new costs would be to your users–it would be great to have access to that calculator from the accounts page. For example, if there was a button I could click which would show me what my account would cost with the new pricing plan had it been in effect for the time period currently being displayed on my Account Activity page, that would be awesome!

    I realize this may require a lot of work on your part. Any piece of it that you could do without too much trouble would be very worth it.

    Comment by Ingbert — August 6, 2009 #

  75. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Viktor (Aug 4) didn’t intend to defraud anybody but simply misread the offer. One of the reasons why companies offer loss leaders is that (whatever the company’s intentions) they sometimes trick people into thinking that they’re better than they really are.

    Anyway, I’m new here, and I was a little worried to see prices going up just after I started. But the prices are still low, and the openness of the process is impressive. So I’m staying.

    “After a year you just get another one” was what pushed us to conclude that he understood exactly what he was proposing. -jdw

    Comment by Toby Bartels — August 6, 2009 #

  76. You’re telling me you’re charging me more and yet somehow I actually love you more for it. What have you created?!

    Never stop candid blogs like these. They remind me how secure my investment is above any other host I’ve dealt with.

    Comment by Will — August 8, 2009 #

  77. I agree with Will and NIck from the last few posts above. The ethics and transparency being shown are far superior to what might be expected elsewhere in the webhosting world.

    And, JDW writes great posts. Former English major maybe? They’re almost fun to read.

    Comment by KC — August 19, 2009 #

  78. I just saw this post almost a month after I received the notice. At first I was concerned and a bit miffed at the thought of paying a extra, even if it is a tiny bit.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that this price restructuring is fair and will actually help clamp down on the spam and wastage on the internet as a whole. If you don’t want to incur the extra fees, you have to cut down on the usage certain extra features costs for resources. Thereby, many of you can maintain low costs by switching to a “static” type of site.

    I think the old NFS slogan still stands “only pay for what you use”, remember “dynamic” sites take up more resources for even the tiniest of calls

    Comment by Jack — August 29, 2009 #

  79. Awesome work on the new pricing.

    I went to the support site, saw the drop-down menu for free/common/routine support issues, and thought, “Hot damn that is a good idea”. Makes it very clear which admin tasks are admin tasks only because they haven’t been automated or put in the UI (or are too security-sensitive to be automated), and which are things the user should be paying for.

    Nice work, as always.

    Comment by ken — October 6, 2009 #

  80. hey, good work on updating the pricing plan. i used to host w/ which is subsidized like crazy, though lately most of the staff don’t know enough so service has gone downhill. (as in, weeks of downtime.)

    there is NO free lunch in nature, and it’s about time that every relationship accounted for this. (as in other countries, and finally here.) we had a good cornucopian run in the 80s, 90s, 00s… back to reality 😉

    you do realize the internet won’t exist in 20 years right? :p keep up the good work.


    Comment by ken o — November 9, 2009 #

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