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Your quick guide to free website hosting
“Free” is a very powerful word, especially when it comes to something as essential as website hosting. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy free web hosting at a time when it’s necessary for every business and professional to have a website?
But before you jump on that latest free web hosting offer, there are several things you should know about. We’ll cover these considerations in this guide, along with our top picks for where you can get free website hosting services. Let’s get to it.
Why do I need to pay for website hosting?
Web hosting services make your website accessible and visible on the internet. You’re able to access this website and read the content on this page because of website hosting.
Now there’s a lot of technical stuff happening behind this operation — server running and maintenance, 24/7 internet connectivity, network security, databases and broadband stuff, etc. The bottom line is all these operations require money. That’s why web hosting companies ask you to pay for their services.
However, the good news is that many of these hosting platforms offer their services at really inexpensive rates. Some website hosting plans can go for as low as $12 to $18 per year. Simultaneously, some hosting packages have been known to go as high as a few thousand dollars per month.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you want to get out of your website and what kind of user experience you want for your web visitors.
How are these platforms able to offer free website hosting services?
If you’re just starting out with setting up your website, the allure of free website hosting sure sounds appealing. The costs of building and maintaining a website can add up quickly, after all. That’s why it’s only natural to want to jump at the opportunity to minimize your expenditures where you can.
But if running and maintaining hosting services costs money, how are web hosting providers able to offer free hosting plans?
The truth is free web hosting isn’t actually free. There are always tradeoffs and attachments that come with every free hosting plan you’ll come across. These include:
- Ads on your website
One of the ways web hosting companies can offer free hosting plans is on the condition that they get to run ads on your website once it’s live. These can be their ads or those of a third party. In any case, the aim is the same — to generate income for the hosting provider.
In most cases, you also don’t have control over what kind of ads are displayed on your site or how many are displayed for the free hosting plan’s duration.
- Branded domain names
A custom domain name is a must-have if you’re serious about building a solid, successful online presence. Unfortunately, most free website hosting packages come with branded domain names. These are domain names that already include some form of branding, usually the name of the hosting provider.
This is also one of those stringent conditions under which you must agree to if you opt for free web hosting. For instance, if you wanted to build a WordPress free hosting plan website, your domain name would look something like mybusinsess.wordpress.com.
A potential lands on your website and sees this type of domain name can quickly lose trust in your business. Always get a custom domain name.
- Limited features
Because it’s a free plan, web hosting providers are willing to only part with the service’s most basic features. The package usually contains just enough functionalities and features to get your website set up.
However, most of the time, these are hardly ever enough to provide any decent results from the site.
For example, they could offer limited bandwidth, which can cause your site to seize up when it reaches a maximum number of visitors. Or they could provide a limited number of web pages that you can create when on a free website hosting plan.
These provide the web hosting companies the opportunity to upsell you to a paid package. As you grow your business, so must your website. At some point, these limited features simply won’t cut it anymore, and you have to become a paid subscriber.
- Slow loading speeds
Slow loading speeds can kill your site really fast. You might as well not put up a website if it’s going to take too long to load. Paying customers will always take precedence over those on a free plan. As such, they always have the better share of the server resources allocation, which brings us to the next point.
- Limited customer support
Being on a free plan often means limited access to customer support. This is a norm across many industries today, and web hosting services are no different. Your complaint tickets could be given low priority, or you may only contact their customer support via email.
But then again, if you put yourself in their shoes, it makes sense that way. After all, they’re not making money from you. On the other hand, paying customers typically enjoy 24/7 customer support, immediate issue resolutions, and other perks.
When does free website hosting make sense?
Free website hosting may have its fair share of drawbacks, but it is not without its uses. Let’s take a look at some instances when opting for a free hosting plan makes sense:
- It’s not your business website
Maybe you just want a personal site to publish your thoughts or as a hobby. And so the website itself doesn’t have too many designs and function requirements. Bandwidth consumption is also low, and web traffic is minimal. A free web hosting package would definitely make sense in this scenario.
- You want to practice your website management skills
Perhaps you need something to practice with or test out your design ideas on before you set about building the real thing. Yes, going with a free web host is an excellent solution in this instance. Testing and learning are very important in website management, after all.
- You’re completely out of options
Sometimes, the only way is forward. And if you find yourself in a situation where you simply can’t afford a paid web hosting plan, then you gotta do what you gotta do. Start small and grow your business, and then when the time is right, upgrade to a paid plan to unlock more design and functionality features for your website.
What to look for in a free web hosting plan
- 100% ad-free — Besides making your site look spammy, too many ads can significantly slow down the webpage loading speed.
- Adequate disk space and bandwidth — Even if the web host can’t guarantee the server uptime, you should at least have some assurance that your site has enough disk space and that it won’t suffer frequent downtimes from insufficient bandwidth.
- Easy website builder — One-click WordPress installs, and other seamless website building tools are great features to have even while on a free hosting plan. They save you so much time with their drag-and-drop functionality.
- Simple control panels — Just because you’re on a free hosting plan doesn’t mean you have to sweat through managing your website files and other aspects of your hosting space. A simple cPanel user interface is paramount.
- Reliable uptime — Uptime is simply the amount of time the servers are fully up and running. Obviously, you want a web host with a solid reputation for providing reliable, quality uptime.
Top picks for free web hosting providers
Here’s our pick for the best free hosting plans available. Since all these plans are free, nothing is stopping you from trying them all out until you find the one best suited to your needs.
As its name suggests, InfinityFree offers free website hosting for life. The company has been in the business for over eight years and presents some pretty compelling features. Chief among them is the 99.9% uptime guarantee, even on a free hosting plan.
Another great feature is the unlimited disk space and unmetered bandwidth. This allows you to scale your website alongside your business without worrying about shelling the cash for massive hosting upgrades.
On the minus side, InfinityFree doesn’t offer free domain registrations, though you can purchase your domain name through their partner, Namesilo, and then add it to your website. Also, site speed can be a bit slow.
- No hidden fees
- Includes 400 MySQL databases
- Softaculous Script installer for easy website builder and WordPress installations
- Free DNS service
- Free SSL certificate
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- Unlimited hosting
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited subdomains
- No forced ads
Wix has long been one of the most popular ways to build an online presence in a scalable way. Its fully customizable and free website builder features a drag-and-drop editor that allows you to set up your website within a short period.
The platform also provides:
- Enterprise-grade security monitoring.
- Free SSL certificates.
- Backup features.
- Tons of integrated apps.
However, Wix’s free web hosting plan is not particularly generous in terms of disk storage and bandwidth. Plus, the websites you build are not ad-free, and you cannot use your own domain. That being said, if these steep tradeoffs are inconsequential to our needs, Wix is a pretty great choice overall, especially for eCommerce sites or for building your website.
- 99.9% uptime guarantee
- Beginner-friendly website builder with one-click installs
- 500MB bandwidth
- 50MB cloud storage
- Free SSL certificate and firewalls
- Hundreds of free, mobile-ready templates
- Wix.com subdomain
- Free apps and plugins
- Free basic marketing tools
- Site History (backup feature)
This popular free web hosting service provider caters to over one million websites. In a bid to stand out, ByetHost has developed a solid infrastructure dedicated solely to providing quality free hosting services worldwide.
To that end, all of its web hosting plans are stacked with essential features, such as MySQL / PHP compatibility, one-click installers, easy site builders, FTP, unlimited bandwidth, and many more. Byethost also allows you to become a free web hosting provider through its myownfreehost entity.
Its main drawbacks are the limited storage space (5 GB only) and branded domain and subdomain names. Given that it is a free service, these features are pretty good for building your website.
- No ads
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 5GB Disk Space
- FTP account and File Manager
- MySQL databases & PHP Support
- Unlimited addon domain and subdomains
- Clustered servers
- Softaculous Script Installer
- Free tech support
- Five email accounts
- Free Community Access (forums and knowledge base)
This free service is owned and operated by Hostinger. 000Webhost has been around for some time and is a popular option for those looking to get started on building their online presence without too many hassles.
000Webhost’s free hosting plan comes with cPanel, Zyro site builder, WordPress auto-installer, and no on-site ads. However, you can expect to see ads in your WordPress dashboard.
On the downside, you only get a miserly 300MB of disk space and 3GB bandwidth. There’s also no SSL certificate and no option for subdomains or email accounts. Aside from that, the rest of the hosting plan is pretty straightforward, and you can even get started without a credit card. If you want to upgrade to a paid plan, Hostinger offers some really affordable plans (starting at $0.99 per month) with much more robust features.
- Can build only one website per hosting plan
- No subdomains
- 300 MB disk space
- 3 GB bandwidth
- One MySQL database
- No email accounts
- No free domains
- Cloudflare Protected Nameservers
- 99% Uptime Guarantee
- No live support though there are several tutorials in their knowledge base forum
Dubbed the Chocolate free web hosting plan, Freehostia’s free hosting solution allows you to easily set up your website at no cost. The package includes a one-click installer for content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.
Freehostia’s state of the art data center is located in Chicago, Illinois. Server quality is generally good, and the company guarantees 99.9% uptime. The free hosting plan also features MySQL and PHP compatibility.
Its most significant limiting factor is the ridiculously low 250 MB disk space. This will inevitably lead you to upgrade to paid hosting, which starts at $14/month for VPS servers and $40/month for dedicated servers.
- 5 hosted domains
- 250MB disk space
- 6GB monthly bandwidth
- 3 email accounts
- 1 MySQL v.5 databases
- 10MB MySQL storage
- No free domain name
- 24/7 customer support
AwardSpace free website hosting service is excellent for beginner websites that don’t have too many technical requirements. If you’re all about going green, you’ll be pleased to know that Awardspace’s servers run on wind-generated electricity.
With the free plan, you’re only able to install one of three CMS — WordPress, Joomla, or Grav. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you consider that it also comes with the Zacky site builder, a beginner-friendly tool to set up websites and eCommerce stores quickly.
The absence of a free SSL certificate and a meager one GB disk space are the main downsides of this web host. 1 GB can seem like a lot, especially when hosting providers on the list provide only 250 MB. But in reality, it’s barely enough for high-quality images, let alone video files.
- 1 website
- 3 subdomains
- 1 GB disk space
- 1 email account
- 5 GB bandwidth
- Full MySQL database
- 100% ad-free
- Instant account activation
- PHPMyAdmin support
- 99.9% uptime
- 24/7 live chat (sales)
- Automatic firewall protection
- No free SSL certificate
Top picks for really cheap hosting providers
If you’re unable to find a free hosting option that meets your needs after perusing the list above, you may want to look at some paid options that don’t require you to break the bank.
- Bluehost — Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting companies in the world today. It offers quality services that include unlimited SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, and affordable VPS and dedicated servers pricing.
- Hostinger — Another great option with unlimited SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, state of the art security measures, and affordable pricing.
- Namecheap — At less than $2 per month for its most basic plan, Namecheap hosting packages are a great option for launching your online presence. You get unmetered bandwidth, a free website builder, free automatic SSL installation, and domain name and privacy protection.
The bottom line
Free website hosting does have its uses, but if you’re looking to build and maintain a credible online presence, you’re much better off with a paid hosting option. Once you’ve sorted out your hosting, website setup is usually the next step. B12 can help.
We leverage AI technology to cut down the time required to build a stunning, mobile-responsive, SEO-ready website for you. Get started with a FREE website draft today, or visit our Resource Center for more helpful insights on website ownership and management.
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