If you’re looking to host a website on a limited budget, then you might well be tempted to go with one of the many free web hosting plans that are available today. However, if you’re not aware of the restrictions and limitations of a free web host, then paying nothing might prove very costly indeed. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between free and paid web hosting plans, to help you make a decision about which is the right sort of package for you.
Differences between free and paid hosting
- Free web hosts make their money from advertising. In effect, your site becomes an advertisement site for other companies, who can place their banners, pop-ups and other ads on your site as they please. You have absolutely no control over this, and you have absolutely no control over the content of those ads. A paid host makes its money from the website owners. You pay your monthly fee, but your website is your own.
- Free web hosts generally limit the amount of bandwidth you can have. This means that if your incoming traffic exceeds that limit, your site will go down. There is no way to extend that limit. A paid host, however, allows you greater bandwidth and data transfer allowances in the first place, as well as the opportunity to upgrade to even higher limits should you need to.
- Customer support with free web hosting services tends to be very basic and minimal, if it exists at all. If you encounter a problem, you might find you wait a long time for an answer. Paid web hosts, on the other hand, tend to invest a lot more in customer and technical support, with 24 hour help lines, knowledge bases and online tutorials, customer forums and technical help desks. Their business survival depends on keeping their customers happy, not the advertisers, so they have a vested interest in answering your questions quickly and efficiently and keeping your website running.
- Free web hosts also tend to offer only the most basic and minimal of features. Paid web hosts tend to offer you much more in the way of tools and features, from plug-ins and webmaster tools to shopping carts and site builders.
- Finally, free web hosts provide only the most basic level of security. Your site is far more likely to get hacked if it’s on a free web host. Paid hosts, by contrast, have much greater levels of security, and invest a lot more in protecting their customers’ data and privacy.
In the end, you get what you pay for. A free web host offers much lower levels of service. This is fine if your website is just for personal use, or for practice purposes. However, if your website is for professional or commercial purposes, then you will need to invest in the higher levels of service provided by paid web hosting companies.
If you have just finished your first website then the next step is to look into web hosting to promote your site. There are many web hosting companies to choose from but the very basic consideration is to make a choice between free or paid web hosting services. This article will walk you through the pros and cons for both options.
Free Web Hosting
Free web hosting is exactly what it is, free. You need not pay for a domain name. But not having a domain name would mean that you would have a URL that would be a subdomain of on website, something like mydomain.google.com. This means that should you move your web site and use another provider in the future, you have the potential to lose you traffic. Another disadvantage would be that free web hosts normally use a lower bandwidth as compared to paid hosting services. They also normally do not offer features such as PHP and MySQL. Using free web hosting providers also mean that you are inclined to have ads included in your pages. You shall get about 2-3 banner ads or sometimes pop up windows. So if you plan to utilize banner exchange in your site, do carefully go through the terms and conditions of your contract because some free hosts would not allow this. It is good to be informed of what you can and cannot do within the contract. However, also be cautious of free web hosts that change their terms and conditions during your contract. Like say for example, should your free web host offer hosting without ads, do not be surprised if you suddenly see a banner or a pop up appear on your site. In addition to this, some free hosts have the tendency to cancel their free web hosting service and then switch to being a paid host. When this happens, you will then be left with either paying them or losing your website. So be very wary when choosing a free web hosting service. It is good to be informed before making a decision.
Paid Web Hosting
Although paid web hosting may cost you more money, you should consider some of these advantages before finally deciding on the web hosting service that you need. Paid web hosting means that you can have your own domain name. This means should you move to another provider in the future, you can bring the domain with you to the new provider so you don’t loose the traffic that you have built over time. Paid hosts also offer a 24 hour service support whether it be through live chat, email or toll free phone support. This additional service will be important in running your business. You shall need an efficient technical service and support team to address all your site concerns. Paid web hosting services also normally come with an uptime guarantee as compared to free hosts. More over, they offer an adequate amount of disk space and bandwidth. They also carry features like PHP and MySQL as a standard in their package.
So before finally deciding on your choice of web hosting service, determine the real requirements of your site. If you merely need a few personal pages for your friends with a small number of html files then you can opt for free web hosting. But if you are planning to put up a serious business, consider going with a quality paid web hosting service.