Free website hosting can be a tempting option when you’re first starting out in business. Free anything is tempting when you’re first starting out in business. But, here’s the thing: you get what you pay for.
Don’t get us wrong: it is possible to get quality hosting for little to no cost, but you have to read the fine print. Many companies who offer free hosting are just trying to scam you, and you might even end up paying more in the long run.
We’re going to take a look at exactly what free web hosting is and how you can tell a legit plan from a scam.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is free web hosting?
If you want your website to be able to be accessed via the internet, you need a hosting service. A website hosting service provides space on a server where you can keep all of the files needed to keep your site up and running. It can be thought of as your website’s “home”.
“Free” web hosting is, of course, when that server space is made available to users at no cost to them.
How does web hosting work? A service allots you space on a server that they own and operate. You are responsible for creating and maintaining your own website, but you don’t have to worry about anything to do with the actual server (like maintenance or upgrades).
Sometimes the host even provides extras, like free site builders or automated installation tools . . . although that is uncommon with a free plan.
How do hosting companies make money if they’re giving away space for free?
Why would a business give away their services for free? Especially something as expensive as server space! It doesn’t make sense, right?
Well, you have to look at the big picture. While these companies are giving away their server space for “free”, most of them will try to get money from you in other ways. For example:
- Upselling: Like many products or services today, some hosting providers offer a very basic product for free in the hopes that their clients will upgrade to a paid plan later. It’s called “fremium” – get the bare minimum for free and pay for any add-ons. In the case of website hosting, they may charge you for extras like live support, automatic backups, or a domain name.
- Paid ads: Some free web hosts make their money through paid ads or affiliate links on your website – meaning your website will have unwanted banner ads or pop-ups advertising the hosting service that you can’t get rid of.
Is free website hosting worth it?
Well, that really depends. The key lies in reading the fine print. Here are some of the typical pros and cons:
- Absolutely no (upfront) cost to you
- No contracts
- Can terminate service at any time
- Limited bandwidth and disk space
- May crash if you experience a surge in traffic
- Lacking in features such as software scripts and root directory access
- More likely to suffer from downtime and hardware/software failures
- Not likely to offer 24/7 support and responses to emails may take several days
- May take ownership of your site
- And many more!
Signing up for free website hosting has the potential to come back and bite you – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do a little research, find out why the company is offering you free hosting, and make sure you read the fine print!