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Is Free Web Hosting Right for You?

Published on 2/26/2011 by

Free web hosting is exactly what it sounds like---web hosting that is entirely free of charge to the end user.  Sounds like a good deal, right?

The catch

While there are some great deals to be found online, nothing can be better than free.  Well, almost nothing.  There are a few things to consider when it comes to free web hosting.  For example, with free web hosting you may have any or all of the following limitations:

  • Advertisements:  Free web hosting companies do tend to display advertisements on each page of your site and disallow you from being able to make money the same way.
  • Limitations:  Most freebie web hosts prohibit the use of software or scripts that may cause excessive use of bandwidth; namely CGI and forum scripts.  Free hosts also put limitations on the amount of space and monthly bandwidth you’re allowed to consume, which means that if you’re putting a photo album online with a free host you may run out of space.
  • Support:  Most free web hosting companies do not offer any sort of technical support.  Great, if you know what you’re doing, but if you’re a beginner webmaster you could get off to a rough start on your own.
  • Guarantees:  Traditional paid web hosting companies offer uptime guarantees that promise your website will be online for 99.9% of each billing cycle.  You get no such pledge from free web hosts.

Who could benefit from free web hosting?

Despite its limitations, free web hosting is still a great deal, and it could be a perfect fit for you.  Free web hosting accounts are ideal for any of the following people:

  • Students.   If you’re a high school or college student and want a simple place to blog or store photos, free web hosting can fit the bill.
  • Webmasters.  Are you a new or experienced webmaster who needs a place to test design?  You can do that with a free web hosting account.
  • Families.  Do you need a place to upload photos to share with family and friends?  Free web hosting can handle that.

Who should not use free web hosting

Because free web hosting accounts offer a very limited amount of space and bandwidth, anyone wishing to develop a website long term should lean toward a traditional web hosting account.  This may include you if you’re developing any of the following types of websites:

  • Ecommerce.  Ecommerce stores have special needs, like SSL certificates and the availability of shopping carts, which free web hosts simply cannot support.
  • Monetized.  If you intent to deploy Google AdSense or feature private advertisements on your website to make money you won’t be able to do that with a free web hosting company.
  • Forums.  Most free web hosts do not permit forum software to be installed on their web hosting servers because of the immense amount of bandwidth they consume.
  • Highly trafficked.   Sites which have many visitors will quickly exceed the bandwidth limits of free web hosting.

Free web hosting certainly does have its place in the world of web hosting.  The question you have to ask yourself is this:  Does free web hosting fit my needs?