Setting up a website, buying a domain name and getting an SSL certificate and all quickly add to the cost of owning a website. You've probably discovered that there are some free unlimited web hosting providers claiming to offer reliable uptime at no extra cost.
I've come across free web hosting providers in the past, and more often than not they come with their disadvantages, however, for you, it might be worth it.
In this blog post, I'm going to tell you whether free unlimited web hosting is worth it, what to look for, and the things to avoid.
When searching for website hosting providers, the elephant in the room is whether it's OK to use free hosting from services like 000WebHost.
There's usually a reason why website hosting is free, and there might be more than one reason, here's a few that might apply:
If you're trying to start an E-Commerce website to sell products and/or services, or even if you're starting a blog to educate people, I'd stay away from free hosting.
Because with the limitations of hosting that's free, your website might perform really slowly, in other words, your site speed will be slow and could crash regularly causing website downtime.
This isn't going to help your search rankings in Google, and as we've covered in our common website downtime causes article, things like hardware failure could happen with free unlimited hosting providers.
One of the benefits (before we get into some disadvantages) of hosting being free, is you're able to quickly get access to a server and start experimenting.
If you've got a super simple basic website that's been put together with HTML files with just a few pages, you could quickly get this up and running on one of these servers and wouldn't even need a domain name.
Some people, like me, like to experiment with the styling of a website, or find out how a particular website or feature of a website will look on a mobile...
Without knowing some complicated technical details, being able to quickly see what your website or page might look like on a mobile is important since most people browsing online these days are browsing via their mobile phone.
Let's dive right into some of the advantages, it's not all bad...
If you're not a very technical person and aren't a wizard on a computer, then being able to quickly get those styling edits onto a website and previewing what they'll look like for your mobile visitors is difficult if you have to pay for hosting out of the box.
If I make an edit to a website, I'd like to see what it will look like on a mobile since that's where 90% and more of my users are browsing from.
Getting your website up quickly, previewing the changes and moving quickly to resolve any issues will mean you're not touching your main website - and aren't in fear of something going wrong.
Even if you've got a large website such as a Wordpress site that requires a database, you could just put together a quick, scrappy HTML webpage to see what that promotional offer might look like.
Okay, so it sounds obvious doesn't it - you don't have to spend any money or exchange any credit card details.
Some providers might try to obtain your credit card details so that they can upsell you and upgrade your "plan" to a paid hosting setup.
Whilst others, simply... won't.
And that's as far as this particular advantage really goes if I'm totally honest, it's free.
Creating and configuring servers is quite a long process. I know because I've configured servers before, our domain monitor server has been configured and set up and it took some time.
Regardless of however many servers you configure, you'll more than likely always run into configuration issues and bugs that you simply didn't plan for.
That's why, free web hosting providers usually have a server configured and ready to go out of the box for you so that you don't have to configure much.
Unfortunately, unlike the advantages, there's a whole load of disadvantages, far more than you might think, and we'll come back and add more to this list over time!
If you were hoping to buy a domain name for a website and plug it into your free unlimited web hosting, think again.
Chances are, you won't be able to...
Because you'll need to configure your DNS records (that's the information about your domain name) and most free providers won't allow you to do this, and this is why it's not a good idea to go for free hosting.
What's the saying?
Nothing is free in this world? Well, in this case it might be, but you're extremely limited.
Have you got a problem with the hosting you've just set up? Well, good luck trying to get in touch with someone and hope that they spend hours helping you...
It's simply not going to happen, if you get stuck on some installation step or you find yourself having to try and reach out to the customer support team several times, you should start looking at a paid hosting service instead.
It's likely that whoever you've setup free hosting does indeed have great customer support, except if that was offered to you, they're not getting anything in return here.
If you're completely new to web hosting and servers - stick with me on this one, I'll do my best to explain this to you.
So every time you connect to your server through a browser, or upload/download a file to the server, you're consuming bandwidth that the provider has available to them.
As a result, as a non-paying customer, your bandwidth is likely to be restricted. And as for your speeds, your speed is the time it takes to upload or download a file.
It's a little bit like your broadband speed, have you ever been watching a Netflix film or YouTube video and you see that buffering symbol of death?
That's the same as what's happening here, slow data transfer speeds.
Nobody likes ads, especially me, you too included right?
Unfortunately, it's something that could happen to your site. If you're looking to grow your website into potentially an online business, then utilising a paid hosting provider is the safest and most reliable route to go down here.
One of the reasons that advertisements may be placed on your free web hosting's domain is to accumulate some of the cost of being able to give you the hosting for free.
Whenever someone sees the advert, there's a chance that they might click through to whatever the advert is promoting or selling.
Imagine a famous brand such as Apple, imagine if they had adverts all over their website promoting products and services such as counselling or online tutorial classes...
It will cause you to lose customers and brand recognition.
If you've recently read our guide for optimising your website and increasing the organic search traffic to your site, you'll know that trying to get visits to your website is quite difficult in the first place.
That's why you don't want to use web hosting that's free because the domain that you're given isn't going to rank well in the search engine, this will end up resulting in less clicks to your site.
Or even, no clicks at all.
Another concern worth pointing out is the safety behind free web hosting. You're ultimately using a service which you're not paying for, how do you know that your website isn't being hosted on the same server as another website?
You'll want to at the very least take a look at whether the hosting provider is safe, read their reviews, find testimonials and figure out the general safety of the provider before making a finalised decision.
When it comes to trying to find the cheapest hosting provider, what might be cheap for you, might be expensive for someone else.
So defining how "cheap" hosting might be is going to be one's individual decision. Typically with cheap hosting, your website will be on what's called a "shared server", you might see this being referred to as "shared hosting".
Shared hosting is essentially where your site is hosted on a server with other websites and are all sharing similar resources such as processing power and memory.
They're not bad by any means, and for the most part it's all you'll ever need to get a website up and running, and later down the road you can choose to upgrade to dedicated hosting.
If you're just getting started with a website, then Hostinger might be suitable for you. With a generous 10 GB SSD allocated to storage space and an email account included, give them a try!
You can find out more about their web hosting plans by going here.
Despite what people may say about free web hosting, there are certainly some advantages (even though there's not many) that could outweigh the long list of disadvantages.
If you're a developer, or a start-up looking to simply preview what a new feature might look like, then this is where free web hosting makes sense.
However, if you're trying to rank in the search engine and improve your visibility, then you'll almost definitely want to go with paid web hosting in the long run.
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