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Welcome to part two of a series of FIVE articles about free web hosting, and whether it is worth pursuing. If you haven’t read part one yet, click here to access the first article in the series. Moving on with the discussion, below I’m going to go over the next five reasons why you need to seriously think about whether it’s a good idea to host your talent with a free hosting provider. Let’s start with the look of your site:
1. Professional Appearance of Your Site
If you choose free hosting, you’ll have to make do with a url like: www.freehostcompany.com/yoursitename, because you most probably won’t be allowed to use your own domain name. In the event that you are, you’ll have to buy it yourself, while several paid hosting companies will provide a domain name for you free of charge when you sign up with them.
Nevertheless, funky domains such as these can be harmful for the image of your business and will give your visitors the impression that you are not running a serious enterprise.
Is Free Web Hosting Safe?
2. Security Issues
Lax security is not always an issue, since the hosting company also tends to use their own services. Obviously, they are not too keen on having their security broken.
Even so, without the need to comply with the financial and legal rules that were brought in for paid services, there is no incentive to keep security up to date on a weekly basis. This means that if a new virus is sweeping through the system, then there’s a good chance that it will get into your account and start mining your files for data. Few free hosts have a backup file procedure, so it’s very likely that if your website is killed off by this virus, then it is gone for good.
In addition, free hosts attract more abusers and consequently get attacked more. So if you have any sensitive info on your hosting account, then it’s certainly worth using a premium service, several of which are very affordable.
One point mentioning here is that Google is always on guard to penalize spammy sites or pages. But consider this: if spammers end up virtually taking over a free web hosting service, then Google will go as far as completely removing this host from their search results to protect their users. How bad a nightmare would that be for all the site owners using that host?
Is Free Web Hosting Reliable?
It is also important to check what kind of support services are provided by the web hosting company. It goes without saying that paid hosts can provide much better support than free servicers in any situation.
Most paid hosting customers get 24/7 technical support. However, when it comes to free hosting, you may experience a long delay (typically a few days) in getting replies to your support-related queries.
In any event, before you sign up with any free or paid web hosting platform, you must find out how fast that web hosting company can get your site back online if there is any issue with down time.
This, along with credibility, is one of the most important aspects of customer hosting support. So find as many reviews as possible about your prospective host choices before making a final decision.
If site uptime is important to you, then NEVER go with free web hosting, as service uptime between free and paid hosting has some significant differences.
The main difference here is that many free web host providers “over-sell” their servers. This means that the provider crams the dedicated server to the max with accounts on the usable disk space, and hopes and prays that all those accounts do not use up their individual allocation of resources at the same time.
When this happens (as oftentimes it does), it causes the web host provider service to lag, time out-and in some cases-get shut down because their data center will not put up with it, based on their TOS.
On the other hand, if you purchase hosting from a quality host, you will get an uptime/reliability guarantee, along with lots of features and software, not to mention, infinitely better support.
5. Reliability and Loss of Data
Paid hosting is definitely more reliable than free hosting. Again, if you need your site for business purposes, then opt for paid hosting as it is smarter to invest a trivial amount of money instead of taking any risks with your livelihood.
Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that there are some good free hosts out there, like HostAwesome, but if reliability and keeping your data intact are important to you, should you really dare take the risk of hosting your blog with a free web host?
Plus, you can never be sure that a free host will actually be there from day to day. All too often, you hear so many horror stories on web hosting forums about how a free host has suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth and how the site owner cannot recover their files.
Budget issues are undoubtedly the reason why a free host just ups and leaves, or goes offline a few times per year for a week at a time. After all, it’s difficult for free hosting companies to make a profit, if they can at all.
Other Reasons Why Bloggers Are Dissing Free Web Hosts:
If you were to spend hours scouring internet hosting forums (as I have done) to get the low down on the free web hosts out there, here’s a summary of the major complaints that you’ll find bloggers making about free web hosting companies:
(1) Regardless of what they say in their promotional pages, a vast number of these free hosts will kick you out from their service once you have enough traffic to profit their business elsewhere. Your website might still be running well, but it’s no longer yours. So, you lose your design and development-and your customers too.
(2) Accounts get suspended or shut down for no reason and with no notice at all. Then, when you ask for access to download or migrate your files to another server, they refuse and justify their actions by telling you things like: you violated their TOS; your script caused a CPU overload; you were using warez (pirated software/copyrighted materials), or you uploaded forum software, etc.
(3) Don’t bother to submit a support ticket to a free host’s help desk, as it takes forever to get a reply. Most of the time your requests for help get completely ignored.
(4) Most of the time, free hosting companies will announce that they are having problems with their server and they need to switch to another one for better performance. Then they try to migrate all the data to the new server. But the problem is, sometimes the transferred data gets corrupted, and your website is as good as dead. Some users claim that their free hosting sites get deleted so the owner can use the space for paid hosting-all without warning.
(5) Many free hosts have a scammy look about them, which is reflected in your site. It’s made even less appealing to the eye when they run their own ads on your sites so that they can monetize your content for themselves. Not only that, but in most cases, you are not allowed to run your own ads. This makes it very difficult to earn commissions selling products as an affiliate using a free web host.
(6) Oftentimes, free hosts promise unlimited disk space and bandwidth, but account users get scolded for being over their quota. What is the meaning of “unlimited bandwidth”, when you can’t use it?
(7) Ridiculously slow server speed and continuously high server downtime.
Conclusion to Part 2.
The basic rule is this: if your income is dependent on your online presence, then always go for paid hosting. If you’re just showcasing a hobby, you can start with free hosting and see how it works out. If you start to get serious about your site, or if you decide to monetize it, you can always switch to paid hosting later.
However, I would only recommend ONE company in this scenario, and that’s HostAwesome (see article 5 in this series). Remember, all your backlinking and SEO efforts may go down the drain if you have to switch hosting companies and domain names later, so I’d advise that you start with HostAwesome’s free plan if you’re still intent on using a free host.
You can then upgrade later to one of their paid plans, if need be, while avoiding any disasters with your site because you’re able to stay with the same, excellent, reliable host.
I hope you seriously consider all the points above before you make your decision on where to host your website. If you ventured out with a free host in the past and experienced any of the problems outlined above, you’ll be of the same opinion as me-free hosting is simply NOT worth it!
Over to You
I really hope you’ve found the first two issues of this five-part series useful, and that it has given you some serious food for thought about which direction to take for your new or existing online adventure.
Do you agree with the points made above? Maybe you’re with a free host and you have had a smooth ride with them? Drop me a quick line in the comments section below and let your voice be heard!
Now, without further ado, let’s proceed to the third article, where I analyze the different types of hosting available and which is best suited for your particular needs…
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net