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Free Web Hosting vs. Paid Hosting

Published on 7/7/2010 by

You’ve finally decided to put a website online. Congratulations! Should you go with a free web hosting company or pay someone to host your website? Let’s take a look at your options.

Free web hosting

There are companies, including your local ISP and Google, who offer free web hosting services. Free web hosts agree to give you a set amount of space and bandwidth for you to publish your own website. Sounds like a good deal, right? As with all things, there are advantages and disadvantages to jumping on the free host bandwagon.

Advantages:

  • No cost to you. Free web hosting is just that—free of charge. That means you’ll never be billed for the space or bandwidth you use.
  • Great way to experiment. If you’re learning HTML or want to experiment with design, free web hosting offers a great way to play online without any investment to you.
  • Update friends and family. Free hosting is an excellent way to showcase your personal pictures and thoughts, and give your family and friends a safe place to check in with you.

Disadvantages:

  • No domain name. With a free web host, you’ll get a very long web address as your homepage. If you sign up with Google Sites, for example, your address may look like this: http://sites.google.com/site/mywebsitenamegoeshere . That address is difficult to remember and not ideal if you’re trying to brand yourself online or get your business noticed.
  • Limited software options. With free web hosts you get only the basics. You’ll be given a small amount of space and bandwidth and you may be given a basic site builder to craft a few pages.
  • No backups. Free web hosts do not backup your data. That means that if something goes wrong with your host, your files may be lost for good.
  • Limited space. The amount of space you’ll be given on your free web hosting server is limited and set-in-stone. Once you’ve used up your allotted space, that’s it.
  • Possible advertising. Many free web hosts can afford to offer you space at no charge because they place banner or pop up ads on your pages.

Paid web hosting

Paid web hosts give you a set amount of space and bandwidth each month in exchange for a small monthly fee.

Advantages:

  • Low cost. The cost to host a website is minimal and often times less than what you pay for a cup of coffee.
  • Domain name. Using your own domain name means you’re easier to find. http://mywebsiteishere.com is much easier to remember than http://sites.google.com/site/mywebsiteishere.com
  • Complete control. When you pay for hosting you’re in complete control of everything. If you want to put ads on your site to make a little money, you’re welcome to that.
  • Free software. Each paid web hosting account comes with a variety of free software that enables you to install blogs and forum software, shopping carts, manage email addresses and more.
  • Room to grow. With paid hosting, you’re able to upgrade your account at any time should you outgrow your current plan.
  • Backups. Web hosts will backup your data nightly and give you the tools to backup your site, as well.

Disadvantages

  • Small monthly fee.

Bottom line

If you’re starting a business or plan to grow a large site online, paid web hosting puts you in control of your website and gives you an unlimited amount of options for growth. If you only need a small amount of space to share with friends, free web hosting can be a good temporary option.