As a newcomer to web hosting, paying for a service can seem like an expense that is difficult to justify especially when there are so many free web hosting services out there claiming to offer all the features and services you need without having to pay a dime.
But you need to keep in mind that running a web hosting company is not cheap. It’s actually very expensive so if a company is providing such an expensive service for free, you really need to ask yourself why? What are they getting out of it? How are they making money?
Even if they aren’t turning a profit, they still need to make enough money to keep running their free webhosting company. The answer to these questions is almost always something you don’t want to hear.
There are many downsides to free web hosting sites that are not only inconvenient but downright dangerous. So before you sign up for free site hosting, read this to learn more about what you are actually signing up for.
How Does Free Web Hosting Get To Be Free?
The short answer is: they cut every corner they can find. Your free hosting service will be extremely limited and often inconvenient to use. Here are a few of the cost-cutting inconveniences that you will have to deal with:
- Limited space and bandwidth. While many paid services boast “unlimited” space or bandwidth and don’t always live up to it, free hosting services are even more limited than they advertise. You will have a website that crashes often and loads very slowly when it does work.
- Advertisements. Many free services make their money by selling ad space—on YOUR website. If you’ve ever been to a webpage clogged with ads, you know how annoying it is. Especially when those ads have nothing to do with your site.
- Hidden fees. This is one of the more sinister money making strategies. A company will lure you in with the promise of free web hosting but then charge extra for very basic features. In the end, it would have been cheaper to go for a paid hosting service that is actually inclusive of these features.
- Unexpected shutdown. If you actually read the terms and conditions, you’ll find that most are able to just completely shutdown your website without giving a reason. And no, they won’t provide you with your data or any means of saving the content. It will be lost and irretrievable.
- Selling your data or your site. The free hosting site can often make money by selling your email, your personal information, or even your website itself to third parties. And you will have no say in the matter because, technically, they own all of this data.
The Benefits You Will Miss With a Free Hosting Site
Even the best free web hosting will come with a lot of drawbacks. It simply isn’t possible to provide the same quality, reliability, or features if the company is not making money on it. And if their revenue comes from ad sales, they’re going to be more concerned about pleasing those paying ad-buying customers than they are you, the actual user.
Here are some of the things you won’t get if you go for a free option:
- No boost in site traffic. A free hosting site will usually have a poor uptime, slow page loads, and generally be unreliable. This will knock it further and further down the results page on search engines.
- No security. Free hosting sites are almost always more prone to hacking and other cybercrimes. If you’re a business handling highly sensitive private data (such as credit card information), this is a risk you simply cannot afford to take.
- No marketing. No matter how great your content is, SEO will only work if your site is up and running often enough for search engines to find it. And even if you do draw visitors to your site, they won’t stay long enough to hear your message with the slow page loading times.
- No professionalism. Just as with other products, cheap things look cheap. If you want your customers to view your brand as professional and reliable, you need to work with a professional and reliable web hosting service.
Remember, there is no such thing as free unlimited web hosting. If a company is offering unlimited space, bandwidth, and features for free, you need to be very, very suspicious. And always read the terms and conditions (yes, we know how tedious and time-consuming it is but it can be a lifesaver in the end).
So Who Is Free Hosting Good For?
The answer is very few people. But there are some valid reasons to opt for a free web hosting site. Here are a few:
- You’re a beginner. If you’ve never built a website before and you’re trying to learn the basics, web hosting free can be your best option so you can learn your way around without spending money.
- You’re testing a new site. If you just want to test a new idea or new skill and you don’t care how much traffic it gets, free web space can be a good way to go.
You want to try before you buy. Maybe you like the sound of a certain company or a certain plan but you’re hesitant to sign a contract without actually trying out the product. Many will offer either free trials or free basic plans that will let you get a feel for their service before you commit to a contract.