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What is Free Web Hosting?

Published on 2/26/2011 by

Web hosting normally involves purchasing a domain name and a web hosting plan from a web hosting company.  That company then hosts your domain on one of their web hosting servers, in essence displaying your website to the world. 

With free web hosting, companies agree to host your website at no cost.

Types of free web hosting

There are two basic types of free web hosting:

  • Domain based:  You purchase a domain name (such as FreeWebServer.com) and your free web hosting company will host that domain and your website free of charge.
  • Subdomain based:  You buy nothing and your website will be shown on a subdomain of the web hosting company, such as MySpace.FreeWebServer.com.

The advantages of free web hosting

If you’re new to the world of web hosting and simply want to get your feet wet by experimenting with design, blogging or even a family website, free web hosting can be an ideal way to start.  You don’t have to invest anything but your time with free hosting, and if you decide it’s not for you, you can simply delete your website and move on.  The advantages of free web hosting include:

  • It’s free!  You won’t be billed for any services you use with a free web hosting company.
  • It’s easy!  Many free web hosting companies offer website builders and instant setup, both of which can help you construct your website and get it online in minutes.

The disadvantages of free web hosting

As great as it sounds, there are some disadvantages when it comes to hosting your website with a free web hosting company.

  • Advertising:  Free web hosting companies need to make a living too, and many offer free services in exchange for displaying advertisements on each page of your website.
  • Support:  Technical support is rarely afforded clients of free web hosting companies.
  • Email:  Traditional web hosting packages include an unlimited amount of emails addresses associated with your domain name and there are rarely email options with free hosts.
  • Guarantees:  There are no uptime guarantees with free hosts.
  • Size limitations:  Free hosts limit the amount of space and bandwidth that you can use, which means that you could quickly outgrow your website. 
  • File type limitations:  Certain types of files and software, particularly those which consume large amounts of bandwidth—like forums and CGI scripts—are banned from free web hosting companies.
  • Subdomains are difficult to remember or market. 

For business purposes or websites you wish to grow and develop, it’s generally best to go with a paid web hosting company that will not limit your potential growth.  If you’re experimenting with website building or wanting an easy way to share family photos with friends, free web hosting may be a good fit for you.