Even the greenest of Web newbies could build a multipage site in minutes using Tripod, the Lycos-owned Web host that boasts an arsenal of easy-as-pie building tools. Beginners willing to shell out a few dollars a month will enjoy dozens of simple Web-building wizards, a full-featured blogging tool, and excellent online tutorials. Unfortunately, Tripod splashes large ads and pop-ups on its free Web sites, and experienced users will bemoan the stingy dollar-to-megabyte ratios, lack of advanced features, and weak support options. EarthLink, in comparison, offers ad-less free pages, while Yahoo offers more megabytes for paying subscribers, and both provide better customer support.
|Domain registration included||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|POP e-mail accounts||0||0||5||10||15|
|Data transfer per month||1GB||5GB||10GB||20GB||30GB|
|Phone and e-mail support||No||E-mail and live chat||E-mail and live chat||E-mail and live chat||E-mail and live chat|
Advanced users with paid accounts can use Tripod's traffic reports and raw access logs to gauge the popularity of their Web sites. Even Tripod's free accounts support CGI and Perl scripts, but there's no sitewide MySQL or PHP support, although PHP-powered modules are available. Tripod also lacks secure FTP access or regular account backups that let you roll your pages back to previous versions (a Tripod spokesman said sitewide backups are made in case Tripod's servers crash). Even worse, Tripod is pretty stingy when it comes to disk space: the pricier $12 and $20/month packages only offer 100MB and 150MB of disk space, compared to 2GB and 4GB for Yahoo's $12 and $20/month plans.
Setup for either a free or paid account is a simple, five-minute process. Once you've entered your personal information and chosen a username and password, you then pick the type of ads that will appear on your site (if you're getting a free account): the choices range from autos and computers to shopping and travel. After you've picked your ads (and skipped past a few opt-in special offers), you're ready to build.
Tripod boasts a series of beginner-friendly tools that make Web building a snap. First up is Site Builder, a Web-building wizard that lets you choose from more than 180 templates with themes ranging from personal "about me"-type sites and photo albums to small-business sites and e-zines. Once you've picked a template, you can substitute the placeholder text and images with your own content, or insert add-ons such as search boxes, date and time stamps, page counters, animated cursors, guest books, forms, PayPal icons, and even e-mail newsletters (if you sign up with Tripod partner Constant Contact). You can also add your own background music, videos, or flash animation or grab some clip art from Tripod's 10,000-image library.