As of 2021, there are 4.88 billion active internet users, which comprise 62% of the world’s population. When you think about creating a website with a free hosting service, that’s a lot of people you could reach in your business.
However, if you’re without a hosting service, users cannot visit your site on the internet. Similarly, a web hosting service is like a physical store that supports a space where people can shop.
Before you jump into free web hosting, there a several things to consider before investing alongside which hosting service to choose.
What is Web Hosting?
A web hosting service gives your site access to the internet so that people can visit it.
How does this work, though?
How Website Hosting Works
Web servers host websites, which is where data is stored and processed. In addition, web servers store those files that make up a website and process the request to view those files. When a user clicks on a link to your website, the web server will process that request to connect them to your site.
On top of the web hosting service housing your website, they typically offer support, security and performance benefits.
Free vs. Paid Web Hosting
If you’re just starting to set up your website, the idea of a free hosting service is most appealing. After all, the costs of building and maintaining a website can add up quickly. That’s why you may naturally want to take advantage of the opportunity to minimize expenditures whenever you can.
However, you may be wondering how website hosting providers can offer these services for free. Truly, website hosting isn’t entirely free. Some tradeoffs come with a free hosting plan, including:
- Ads placed on your site: Website hosting companies can offer free hosting plans because they can make money from ads on your site. Once your site goes live, their or third-party ads will generate income for the hosting provider. This takes away your ability to control what types of ads and how many displays are on your site.
- Branded domain names: Custom domain names are a must to establish a successful online presence. However, a free web hosting service will allow you to choose a domain name alongside its branded name. For instance, if you decided to go with WordPress, your domain name would look like mydomainname.wordpress.com.
- Limitations: Of course, a free hosting plan will come with some of the most basic features. A package will only contain enough functionalities to get your site live. For instance, limited bandwidth can limit the amount of traffic you receive on your site. Or you have a limited number of web pages you can create.
- Slow loading speeds: If a website takes too long to load, this can turn away many customers before the website pops up.
- Limited customer support: A free plan means limited access to customer support. They consider you a low-priority customer once you send in your complaint ticket. Or they may only contact you via email, which could take even longer.
- Lack of security: Free hosting servers are less secure with encryption, firewall and spam blocking. With security breaches on the rise, your website can be vulnerable to attacks.
When Free Web Hosting Makes Sense
Although free website hosting may have a few drawbacks, it can still be helpful in some instances. When opting for a free hosting plan, it’s perfect for you to use it to publish content as a hobby. So if you’re not looking to scale in any form, this is where a free web hosting service makes sense.
Additionally, a free web host allows you to practice website management. Suppose you’d like to practice or test out new designs. Learning these skills makes free hosting a viable option.
Lastly, if you’re simply a small business and paid web hosting is something you can’t afford yet, sometimes this might be the best option. You have to start somewhere, and when the time is right, you can always upgrade your hosting to scale and unlock more features.
What To Look For With Free Website Hosting
- Limited or 100% ad-free: Besides the fact that ads can make your site look spammy, too many ads can slow your site down.
- Sufficient bandwidth: Even when a web doesn’t can’t guarantee server uptime, you should still make sure there is enough disk space to support brandwidth. This will ensure your website avoids frequent downtimes.
- Easy website builder: Some website hosts offer drag-and-drop functionality to give you a seamless experience in web design. It also saves you time when building a new website.
- Simple cPanel control: A simple cPanel user interface is critical when managing your website files.
- Quality uptime: Uptime is the amount of time servers are up and running. A web host with a good reputation in this area is something you’ll want to seek.
Top Free Web Hosting Services
When looking for a completely free hosting plan, here are a few recommendations:
- The most popular and reputable platform
- Plenty of free, easy-to-install themes
- Includes Jetpack essentials such as basic SEO, site stats, social media sharing
- Website URL is branded with “wordpress.com”
- Displays ads you can’t turn off
- Customer support is unavailable, although you have access to help forums
- Unlimited bandwidth and disk space
- A domain name or available, free subdomain is optional
- No ads
- Email accounts and SQL (Structured Query Language) databases are limited
- One-on-one customer support and cPanel is unavailable
- Limited server power
- Supports quick live site ability and ease-of-use
- Offers customer support
- Many website templates are available for free
- Displays ads and Wix branding that’s unavailable to turn off
- Storage and bandwidth limited to 500 MB each
- Analytics and tracking are unavailable
- Includes free marketing tools for lead capture, SEO and social media
- Free SSL certificate
- Various website themes available with an intuitive website builder
- Custom domains are unavailable
- Displays ads
- Custom HTML and CSS are unavailable
- Zero display ads
- 24/7 access to community forums and customer support
- Free subdomain options
- Limited disk space
- Maximum of five email accounts
- Unavailable on Windows OS
Finding Free Web Hosting
Choose a free web hosting service that suits your needs. You may have some limitations when it comes to a free hosting plan. However, you always have the paid option once you’re ready to establish growth and success for your website.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.