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The Drawbacks of Free Hosting

There are many drawbacks to free website hosting. I've listed many of them below. All the drawbacks listed may not exist with every free hosting provider, but many will.
  • Most require you to display ads, pop-up windows, or links they choose on your site (without compensation to you). Many times these are the annoying, flashing kind designed so they cannot be ignored.
  • Most do not allow you to place your own ads or to earn money from your site.
  • Most do not allow you to have your own domain name. Instead you will have a subdomain, often with a long, forgettable web address.
  • No domain means you can't have
  • Most do not allow scripting, such as CGI or PHP.
  • Many do not give you FTP access.
  • Many require that you participate/post in forums.
  • Support is usually very poor, if they offer any at all.
  • Many free hosting services have come and gone, you never know how long you'll have a site with them as they could go out of business at any time. Many don't last more than a year or two. Do you really want to build your site up for that long only to have to start over? Remember Xoom, anyone? They grew very popular very fast, then folded. Free is just not a very sustainable business model.
  • Some providers lure you in with free hosting, but if you missed the fine print when signing up you'll be surprised to learn it was a free trial, meaning you'll have to start paying after the trial period—or give up your site.
  • Some providers will give you free hosting without any advertising at all. Wow, great! That often lasts no more than three to six months, then they'll contact you explaining that because they're not making money from advertising, they need to start charging you a monthly fee. They count on converting a percentage of free customers to paying customers because of the hassles involved in changing hosts. If you don't pay it doesn't matter, they're not losing anything by deleting your account because they aren't making money from you, if anything, they're losing money. A percentage will pay, they know this, and this is the model they use to get new paying customers.
  • If you do change hosts, you'll lose any incoming links you had to your site. That's not the case with paid hosting.
  • Most free hosts have no provisions for making backup copies of your site.
  • Free accounts are usually packed much more densely on a server, with each site fighting for CPU time and bandwidth. In other words, your site will often experience slow service and more down time than with a paid account.
  • In addition to free accounts being overcrowded on a server, the servers themselves are usually a much lower quality with less memory and smaller bandwidth channels, slowing your site even more.
  • If your site exceeds a (usually small) bandwidth limit, it will be shut down. This shut down may last a day or to the end of the month, depending on how they measure it; or it could be permanent if it's a recurring problem.
  • Nearly all free accounts have severely reduced features, for example, no scripting so no contact form, no databases, no forum, no this, that, and many other things.
  • Most search engines do not index free-hosted websites because they're often here-today/gone-tomorrow, causing link rot.
  • Businesses hosted at free hosts have no credibility. None. According to the internet security firm, Websense Security Labs, hackers are using free websites to distribute malware, spyware, and viruses at a greatly increasing frequency. Is this the company you want to keep?
  • Some free hosts consider anything you publish on their servers to be shared intellectual content. In other words, they can use your content as though it were theirs. They count on nobody actually reading the terms of service.
  • By opening a free account, you agree to receive emails from the host. You will receive email advertising from them and anyone who buys advertising through them. This could be daily, or even several times a day.
As you can see, the drawbacks are many. Free hosting accounts are really only suitable for personal web sites . . . and then only if you wouldn't mind if your site just disappeared without warning one day.

Is all this trouble worth saving a few dollars a month? Because you can get professional hosting for that little.

Let's face it, if you're serious about establishing a real online presence, you have to use professional hosting. If you're not willing to invest such a small amount in yourself, well, good luck to you . . . you'll need it.

If you still think you want free hosting, I've put together this list of free hosts for your convenience.

If you've decided to look at professional hosting, I offer recommendations for shared hosting (the lowest cost and all most people need), business hosting, or the best dedicated server hosting. If that isn't enough choices, I also have put together a big list of web hosts.

Back | Hosting Index
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