Static Sites Are Becoming Popular Again

Background

 

Way back when the internet was first starting out, every site was static. A site at that time was simple a folder containing HTML files. At that time, there were only 18 HTML tags that existed.
Alongside browsers, HTML has also evolved. Through this evolution, the disadvantages of static sites, or rather the advantage of dynamic sites, became clear. Through that, dynamic sites became popular, and eventually we have come to have the internet that we know today. However, lately static sites are starting to make a bit of a comeback, and I would like to explain why.

 

It is cheap

 

Since there is no need for a backend, there is also no need for a VPS. There are many static hosting services, from free to paid plans. However, even the paid plans are dirt cheap. So long as you don’t have amazingly large amounts of traffic on your site, through Amazon’s AWS, most cases will cost less than 10 yen a month. The reason it is this cheap is there is no need for a server. It really is as simple as downloading the HTML code and its assests and displaying it.

 

It is secure

 

With dynamic sites, the most vulnerable points are the code layer and the script engine layer. Since static sites don’t even have either of those layers, they are less vulnerable than their dynamic counterparts. The next most vulnerable point is the service layer. There are many static hosting services which don’t use FTP, so it becomes even more secure in that regard as well. Since the server updates and security patches are managed by the hosting company, you won’t need to worry about those, but since we’re talking about security make sure to use a secure password for your account.

 

It is simple

 

While it does vary on the service to some extent, since it is just HTML, CSS, and JS files, for the most part all you need to do is upload them and you’re good to go. There is no need to worry about a backend language or setting up a web server. However, you will need to think about your domain settings, SSL, and possible problems like relative paths vs absolute paths. While this also varies from service to service, without changing any settings, you are generally able to utilize caching in order to increase the speed of your site and lower your bandwith.

 

It is fast

 

Since it loads HTML directly, it is fast. Of course, as with any other page, if there is a lot of javascript or images on the page, it can get to be slow, but it will come out faster than the same page hosted on a VPS. It is also written as a point above, but cache can also be utilized. There is no work that needs to be done on the backend, so reducing the download time is the best way to speed up page response time. Depending on the service, you can also use a CDN. For example, with AWS you can easily set up CloudFront. With that, when a user accesses the page, the closest server to the user in AWS’s global network will deliver the content. People from all over the world will be able to enjoy a fast experience. Even within Japan, CloudFront has servers in both Tokyo and Osaka.

 

Limitations and workarounds

 

While I listed some of the good points of static sites, if there were no limitations, no one would be using dynamic sites; I will list some of those downsides and workarounds for them. The first is that you cannnot use a database. Saving data and asyncronous work was impossible. While it isn’t as flexible as having your own backend on a dynamic site, through API hosting services, it has become possible to use a database and set up an API. To give an example with AWS again, you can use their service called API Gateway.
In the same manner, one was unable to use a CMS or template on a static site. While it is still impossible to use something like wordpress or drupal, lately there have been a lot of static site generators popping up. The most famous one is jekyll. Using a static site generator, one can easily make a blog.

 

Hosting services

 

Github Pages Free、Version control、100MB storage limit
Netlify Free、One-click SSL(Let’s Encrypt)
Amazon AWS Free for one year other than bandwidth(As of now, bandwidth is 2 yen for 1GB)
Neocities Unlimited bandwidth、Free storage up to 200MB

 

Conclusion

While there are some projects completely unsuited for static sites, the next time you have a minor task such as a langing page, how about using a static hosting service? If you launch the site and leave it as it is, the domain renewal will likely cost more than the hosting.