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A lot of Bloggers, particularly those just starting out, believe that they can just go get their hosting from a free web host and that everything will be all hunky-dorey. For this reason, I have explored this topic in extreme detail in this article, which I have broken down into FIVE separate blog posts. I believe it’s important to explore the issue thoroughly, so please think carefully about all these points before choosing the web host who is going to showcase your passion!
To begin with, your choice of web hosting provider should reflect what you are trying to do. If you are building a blog as a hobby or just for personal use, then you are a perfect candidate for a free web hosting provider.
Free hosting may also be ideal for those who only want to test out their site. Or if your website is generally only going to be seen by your family or friends, then you won’t really mind how substandard it looks and performs.
Having said that, you should still keep in mind the old adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”-in the end, you end up paying one way or another.
Nevertheless, if you are involved with business or ecommerce, you should look into paid web hosting suitable for your project. In that case, go have a read of “The Unconventional Guide to Web Hosting”. This subject is further analyzed in “Why Premium Web Hosting is the Secret Ingredient”. (By the way, these two pieces represent articles four and five of this web hosting series).
So, if you are thinking about signing up for a free web hosting account, you may want to take into consideration the following pointers in this article-even if you are on a very tight budget.
Is Free Web Hosting Good?
1. Forced-Placed Ads
Free web hosts have to turn some kind of a profit just to stay alive. Since they are not charging you up front, they need to be able to make money from you in other alternative, legitimate ways. One such way is by placing ads on your site, either via banners or in the form of pop up ads.
The huge drawback here is that you have little or no control over these ads that are automatically generated by the content in your posts. The problem with this is that, more often than not, ads pop up that have nothing to do with your article topic at all. This ends up aggravating your readers and ultimately, it undermines the quality of your website.
In addition, when your site gets loaded with ads, not only does this slow down your website, but also this may result in errors with your site becoming unresolved at times. If you continuously have problems with your site loading properly or slowly, your bounce rate will increase dramatically because most visitors will abandon your site as soon as they land on it.
2. Post to Host
According to hosting forums on the internet, lots of bad things can happen if you use any of the so-called “post to host” companies, which are apparently run by inexperienced web hosts.
In similar fashion to the hosts that force you to place ads on your site, these hosts mandate that you post on their site in order to maintain your free account with them.
Another annoying requirement of this type of free hosting company is that they require that their subscribers take surveys often, which usually doesn’t even work properly because of poor scripting.
3. Storage Space
Another disadvantage of free hosting in lieu of paid hosting is that most free hosting plans are traditionally smaller in size than their paid counterparts.
Free hosts may promise a lot of disk space, but in reality they rely on their assumption that none of their customers really need a lot of storage space. If it turns out that they do, they inform the user that they have outgrown their free web hosting account and that now they need a more expensive hosting plan-that is, if they can even offer an upgrade.
4. Limitations on Traffic
It’s recommended that you upgrade your plan if you start receiving substantially more traffic than usual, or if your website is hosting critical content that must be available at all times. The problem is that the majority of free hosting companies do not have the capacity to upgrade your site when needed.
When these free hosts issue a lot of accounts, it puts a severe strain on their systems. For this reason, they may limit your bandwidth more often than not. In this case, if your blog starts to get a lot of visitors, then there is nothing you can do to stop your site going offline until your next month’s quota comes into effect-a good way to kill off all your efforts to build your blog audience.
If you then decide to switch to a paid hosting company to accommodate your increased traffic, it may be difficult to transfer your old site-and it’s highly likely that you won’t be able to redirect your site either, which could result in even more lost visitors.
What’s even more of an issue is that you will lose all your incoming backlinks that you received from other sites when trying to boost your site’s ranking in the search engines. All those months and months spent working hard on your backlinking campaigns is now in vain.
Do you really want to start all over again from scratch at this point-not to mention having to redesign your site as well? How will this affect your traffic and sales? It will all be squandered-and all because you wanted to save a few dollars per month on hosting fees. What an awful shame!
5. Less Features Available
You will find that paid web hosting providers have more features because they have the financial resources available to invest in more robust infrastructure.
You will occasionally find a free web hosting provider with similar reliability, but they are highly selective, so it is much easier to just buy paid web hosting for less than $5 per month.
In any event, you could hardly expect to be able to demand plenty of features if you are getting your hosting for “free”. You should also remember that if the host does not allow you to fiddle with the base code, then you are seriously restricted to the services that their features provide.
This is just the half of it. Don’t forget to scroll down to the end of this article to click the link to go over to the other five reasons why free hosting may not be worth your while.
Conclusion of Part 1.
I would always recommend paid hosting over free hosting, unless you don’t care what happens to your site. For example, if you just need a site to display your resume (or CV) for a short period of time, then go for a free host. Otherwise, why would you even think about taking a chance with a free hosting company? Especially as you can easily find a good host for a very reasonable price.
In addition, free web hosting will not offer you a professional looking website and you will not get the best support services from your free hosting provider (see article 2). Not to mention, you don’t get a data protection or uptime guarantee from free hosts. So, if you’re looking to host a business website, then your best bet is to get a premium/paid hosting account.
Over to You
I hope you liked this first of my five part series about free web hosting and how their demands can mimic the actions of a school bully!
What are your thoughts so far? Have you experienced any of the above issues? Let me know in the comments section below.
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net