Advantages & Disadvantages of Free Web Hosting

Published: 26th March 2012
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Everyone loves free…especially in this distressed economy, not only in the US but all over the world. Most of us have learned that there are advantages and disadvantages to getting things free. The most obvious advantage to free web hosting is not having to pay for web hosting. But the next question I have is “Is it really free?” Do I get the same features in my web hosting plan that I would if I was paying a monthly fee? Are there hidden costs with free web hosting? Well, let’s go over the advantages and disadvantages of free web hosting.

So, what are the advantages of free web hosting?
• No monthly billing for the allocated space on the web host’s server
• Free Storage space (not necessarily unlimited)
• Free Bandwidth (not necessarily unlimited)
• Free Data transfer (not necessarily unlimited)
• Free Domain name
• Excellent choice for a personal website, volunteer organizations or a non-profit business
• Great environment for students learning web design
• A site for families to post photos, exchange news and special events

What are the disadvantages?
• You may have limited storage space, data transfer and/or bandwidth
• Domain names may have a longer extension or limitations, or you may have to pay an annual fee if your domain name is not free
• May charge fees to transfer your domain name to another web host
• Your web host may impose their ads, banners and pop-up ads on your website in exchange for free web hosting (revenues from their ads go to the web hosting provider which leaves less room for your website content and making money with your own advertising)
• Free Storage space, data transfer and/or bandwidth may be limited (not good for profitable businesses or sites that have high traffic and will need to upgrade to a paid web hosting plan)
• Limited software options are offered with a free web hosting plan
• Website templates and web tools may not be free or non-transferrable
• No Back-ups which can result in loss of website content, domain names and a lot more
• Not enough resources for a blog, a high traffic website, a large business or a website with a lot of graphics, audios and/or videos
• Does not present a very professional image, often viewed as a novice (many businesses that started out with free web hosting don’t last or lose their customer following when they change hosting providers or can’t be found by the search engines)
• May only be free for a limited time
• Getting tech support may not be free or available
• Could get black listed. Free web hosting providers usually have a Shared IP address which means there could be hundreds of websites sharing one server. If one website sharing your IP address is banned or blacklisted due to spamming or scamming, your website could disappear from the search engines and your email could be blocked
• Web hosting providers that only offer free web hosting often close up because their only source of income is the ads, banners and pop-up advertising they do on their client websites

As you can see from the list of disadvantages, free web hosting usually isn’t the best option. Depending on your resource needs, paid web hosting plans are well worth the cost. There are more features included in a paid hosting plan and are offered at a low or reasonable price. As your business grows and you are getting a higher volume of traffic to your websites, your resource needs will change and you will have to consider upgrading your web hosting plan. You can lower the cost by prepaying for a larger block of time like paying for a year upfront.

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