In this article, we decided to cover a highly requested theme and answer a question, can free web hosting be good enough and cover all your needs?
Free web hosting is fairly widely available. Free hosting does have disadvantages compared to paid hosting, but can nevertheless be very useful for people who manage a small website or are just starting their business.
How “free” is free web hosting?
Free web hosting is sometimes completely free, but often there are some limitations when it comes to essential features, such as…
- With free web hosting sometimes your hosting company won’t allow you to host your own domain, so your website will receive an address on a sub-domain of the web host. This may not be a problem if you are just “testing the waters”, and want to see if online business or blogging is for you, but obviously will be a problem for a serious business website.
- Often, free web hosting providers place forced advertisements on the sites of non-paying members, which you can not remove yourself. You therefore have no complete control over what appears on your site, no access to code, and moreover, you may not like having third party ads that interfere with yours.
- With free web hosting companies, you may not always receive FTP access. Instead, you will need to upload files via a web interface, which can be a problem if you upload a big website. That is especially inconvenient, if the hosting provider has a file upload limit, meaning you cannot upload big files, or files larger than x MB.
- This leads us to point #4, that some free hosting services place a lot of limitations when it comes to file space storage or bandwidth. It’s hard to get a lot of disk space on a free host, so a much better option is to host your larger files on a free cloud server and link to external images. This will save you disk space and bandwidth on your free host and also will help load the images faster, since most clouds nowadays use CDN.
- Lastly, scripts like PHP and MySQL databases are often not supported with free web hosting, so you either can use a pre-installed WordPress / Blogger platform or use the space to host an HTML website.
Why do companies offer free web hosting?
Free web hosting is usually intended as a step towards paid web hosting. As mentioned above, web hosts sometimes place advertisements on your site (in this case, they can actually make money off you indirectly), or they do not offer the possibility to link a real domain name to a free account.
This is where you find yourself in a situation, when you want to avail of free web hosting account without advertising, or you want to link a TLD to your website, then you are often required to upgrade to a paid account.
Actually, that’s the trick of free web hosting: it’s free, but the chance that you’ll go to a paid account sooner or later is pretty fat. Of course, it is easy if you can upgrade your free account with a single email, no need to backup and move the website away, losing traffic in a meantime. While there is nothing wrong with this form of marketing, it is good to know that your options are often limited with free web hosting. So below we decided to break down a short list of criteria, that you can use to compare free web hosting service, and decide which one is for you.
The maximum amount of hard disk space that your site may occupy on the free web host’s server, this may either be limited to certain number in MB/GB, or you may have an unlimited storage space, but with limited data transfer per month / file. Either way, you won’ overheat their server.
The maximum amount of data traffic that the site can generate, which often refers to approximate amount of visitors. You can get your way around it by creating a very minimalist site, with little or no images, and pure HTML, no WordPress. That way, it will be very hard for you to overload your bandwidth usage and you can do very well on a free host for a long time.
For a starting site, most data limits placed by the free hosts are not a problem.
With free web hosting, more often than not — you get an address on a sub-domain of the hosting company. That’s a good idea to find out upfront, whether it is possible to link a real TLD domain to your free package and what it costs to do so in the end, should you decide to upgrade. If your website is successful, then it is highly advisable to link a real domain name to it. You will be taken more seriously by your visitors and also by search engines.
Free web hosting providers often want to earn something from their service themselves and therefore sometimes advertise on the pages of their non-paying members. The advertisement can be placed in the form of a popup, a text link, a banner, a frame, or an iframe. Is the advertising disruptive or can your visitors live with it? The decision is yours!
Your own advertising
Not all free web hosts permit the placement of your own advertising. Websites with which money is earned sometimes lose the right to free web hosting and have to take a paid subscription. This is useful to know in advance, especially if you plan to become an internet millionaire.
The choice for a server’s operating system comes down to the choice between a Windows version and a Unix / Linux version. Most free hosts will host Linux, as this is a free operating system that also excels at (web) server area. Unless you use .NET passport script (and no, you don’t!), Linux host is right for you.
If you plan on running scripts such as ASP, Pyton, Ruby on Rails and PHP and possibly databases such as MYSQL are usually not offered with free web hosting. ASP and PHP are server-side scripting languages. You can use these languages on the server to dynamically generate content on your web pages before they are sent to the user. PHP and ASP are widely used for the interaction with a database. Free web hosting services that offer either PHP or ASP and Mysql are thinly seeded.
Upload FTP / HTTP files
Sometimes you can only upload files (HTTP) from a free web hosting provider via the web browser. Uploading files via FTP with an FTP client is much easier and faster, so this option alone may be worth upgrading.
Recommended free web hosts:
As promised, we made an overview of some features that you may need to check, prior to signing up with a free web hosting service. Based on the criteria above, which host can we recommend to our readers, should they decided that a free hosting account will do the job for them? We’d go for 000webhost.com
At 000webhost.com you can get a free account with access to CPanel. CPanel is the best backend admin panel that is often used by web hosting companies. However, on top of that, 000webhost offers a large number of possibilities with their free web hosting.
- TWO MySQL databases
- PHP support
- 1500 MB of disk space
- cPanel administration system
- FTP access
- Host your TLD
- WordPress hosting
- No ads
As you can see, this free web hosting provider offers more than other companies altogether. It’s very hard to find a company that will have all the “premium” features offered with their free hosting account, moreover, you will get a top notch fast server, with great up-time and fast support.