The Hidden Costs of Free Web Hosting
Your search for free web hosting starts with one golden rule.
Are you ready?
(*drum roll please*)
...okay here we go... brace yourself...
WEB HOSTING COST$ MONEY.
That's right. There are no two ways about it.
- Web hosting servers (computers) cost money.
- Renting a place to put the servers cost money.
- Bandwidth costs money.
- T1 connections cost money.
- Maintaining a fully functional web hosting service takes real time and real manpower (and more realistically, a staff of people, not just one person) which also... yep, you guessed it... COSTS MONEY.
So you want all this for free now, do you?
Okay. But anyone running a free web host will have to reimburse their costs somehow and will probably even want to... (*gasp*)
... make a profit
Make a profit?!?...
Yup. You got it. They'll want to make a profit. Why else would they give away something for free?
Soooo.... All this just begs the question...
Why is Some Web Hosting Free?
Here are some typical reasons why some web hosting providers offer free packages:
- To make money off banner ads displayed on your website and/or your web hosting control panel(s).
- To make money off advertisements displayed on forums to which you must visit and post to in order to retain your hosting.
- Business web hosting services offer freebies in hopes of enticing users to switch to a paid package.
- Wanna-be entrepreneurs want to see what it's like running a web host without any obligations to clients before switching it all over to a paid service. (These are the least reliable.)
- Some companies will offer free website hosting as complimentary service if you buy or renew a domain name through them. (Although not truly 'free' these are the most reliable).
- Some individuals find operating a web host amusing so they do it as a hobby. (This is not a joke. Web hosts like this actually exist. No profit here but the few hosts like this I came across had such stringent sign-up requirements that I can't seriously recommend them.)
Now you know what you're up against. And the bottom line is, the more commercially successful a free web host is, the more likely it is to survive and provide you with reliable service (this is what you want).
Most free web hosting providers will balance the budget by doing at least one of two things:
- Decrease costs by reducing maintenance (manpower) which typically translates into no advanced hosting goodies like no server-side scripting (PHP, Perl, SSI) and no databases (MySQL). A collection of web hosting clients that are guaranteed not to bring down their servers every second day through bad scripting and gaping security holes is just simply a whole lot easier to manage.
- Increase revenue by forcing ads.
If you're looking to create a serious presence on the web though you're going to want to sign up with a web host —free or not— that is fully experienced and has a sense of responsibility towards its clientele.
After registering an account with over 50 free website hosting providers, the companies I'm most comfortable recommending to my
clients are the ones that offer free hosting as a complimentary service when you buy a domain name from them. (And among these I find Doteasy.com
to be the best.) You're going to have to buy a domain name anyway —unless you really want to look like an amateur— so you might as well get some free hosting along with it, right?
* * *
Now, if you've already purchased a domain name
and you're still determined to go the freebie route with a hosting provider, you should check out this list of the best free web hosts
to be found on the net...