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I want to have a CMS to promote some products of mine.

I wonder if I should download a free, open source CMS and host it myself or if I should pay for an online CMS?

What are the pros and cons for each of them?

Are there other things I should consider as well?

Share your thoughts, thanks.

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Are you talking about the same CMS, but hosted vs. self-hosted? –  gravyface Sep 18 '10 at 13:46

2 Answers 2

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I think it really depends on the level of customization you see yourself needing in the near future and how much time you want to dedicate to managing your CMS.

A hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CMS will get you up and running quickly but they may have a restrictive set of plugins you can install that doesn't meet your feature requirements; they likely won't allow you to have access to the source code or they may not permit any code-level, API-based customizations either. There also may not be a migration path: i.e. if you want to move to your own hosted solution down the road as your business grows, you may not have access to the database or a sufficient enough "export" function to get your content out in a usable format.

On the flip-side, a host-your-own open source CMS requires diligence in maintenance: you need to make sure you're upgrading regularly (there's usually a regular stream of security patches being released; CMSs are a big target for hackers). Like anything else self-hosted, you need to watch your logs, clean-up any comment/forum spam, manage caching, and so on.

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A significant advantage of an open source CMS is that you're not strongly tied to its vendor. If you're not happy with a hosting provider, changing will only cost a little time and the loss of paid-in-advance fees at the original provider. On the other hand, if you have to abandon one CMS for another, you're pretty much rewriting your site from scratch. For a CMS, to avoid vendor lock-in, you need:

  • a perpetual license;
  • the right to use the CMS on any hosting solution;
  • access to security updates even if you break your relationship with the vendor;
  • the right to make improvements to your copy (some locales may grant you this right no matter what the license says).

There's a middle ground between self-hosting and proprietary online CMS: many hosting providers support open source CMS. You should decide not between self-hosting and proprietary CMS, but between self-hosting and open-source externally-hosted.

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