Bandwidth: 10 GB (10,000 MB) | Disk Space: 1000 MB | Cpanel: Yes | Ads & Banner: No | MySQL Databases: 2 | E-mail Accounts: 5 | Uptime: 99% | FTP: Yes
Bandwidth: 6 GB | Disk Space: 250 MB | Free Domain Name: No | Ads & Banner: No | MySQL Databases: 1 | E-mail Accounts: 3 | Uptime: 99.9% | FTP: No
Bandwidth: 20 GB (10,000 MB) | Disk Space: 5GB | Cpanel: Yes | Ads & Banner: No | MySQL Databases: 3 | E-mail Accounts: Zero | FTP: Yes
Bandwidth: 250GB | Disk Space: 10 GB | Cpanel: Yes | Ads & Banner: No | MySQL Databases: 2 | E-mail Accounts: 5 | Uptime: 99% | FTP: Yes
Bandwidth: 50 GB | Disk Space: 1000 MB | Cpanel: Yes | Ads & Banner: No | MySQL Databases: 5 | E-mail Accounts: 5 | FTP: Yes
Top Things to Look for in a Free Web Host
Typically our advice when it comes to free web hosting is simple—don’t use it. Sure, shared hosting is so cheap these days that even the most terrible of servers won’t cost you more than, say, a few dollars a month. However, though we’d advocate a VPS Server above anything else on an average day, today is not an average day. There are after all a few choice projects that will be best served by the cheapest hosting around, free hosting. We understand you’ll occasionally need a test-run of a product, or a template that needs ironing in the wild that will best be fitted up and shipped out via a free web host. As such, we’ve compiled a short guide below to help you out in your next search for a superior—and gratis—web host. We aren’t saying it’s fool-proof or unbiased, but if you’re looking for a no overhead way to host a site, finding quality free hosting is only a few basic pointers away!
What is Free Hosting?
However, before we dive into the meat and potatoes of what you should be looking for with your next free host, we should likely talk a bit about what free hosting is. If you haven’t been in the industry long, or have somehow simply managed to avoid the technology, free hosting is the ultra-affordable answer to shared hosting. It uses all the same methods as the popular web hosting method, however, it offers one clear distinction: It costs nothing to use. A free web hosting provider will set you up with a chunk of their shared server at no cost, allowing you to perform the same sort of FTP and SSH requests you would normally incur with a shared hosting account, only with zero overhead. This is accomplished through a variety of methods, but typically a free host will offset their own investment costs by including copious amounts of paid advertisements within their services. Additionally, a free host may also include their name within the domain of your URL.
So there you have it! That’s the basic up-and-down of the matter, but what about the specifics? We promised you certain key elements to look for with your free host, and we meant every word. Skip on down below the heading for a full rundown of all the important elements essential to a proper free hosting experience!
Top Things to Look for In Your Shared Host
Unlimited Space and Bandwidth
When it comes to shared hosting proper, we always demand you insist on a whole bevy of unlimited features where your hosting account is concerned. With that in mind, there’s no reason in the world you should expect less of a shared hosting provider without a price tag! The very first thing you should request of a free host is unlimited disc space, as well as bandwidth. Why do we say this? For a number of reasons.
Most importantly, you should keep in mind that it’s you making money for the shared host. All of that advertisement space can add up to some serious monthly income, a chunk you see no part of. However, it’s also your activity that keeps the whole ship afloat. Keeping all of this in mind, it’s hardly much to ask for unlimited disc space and bandwidth within your account. You won’t max out their servers, and if they aren’t willing to give you the services you need, they aren’t worth your time.
If we’re being completely honest with you, most shared hosting providers could get by on nothing but the advertisements placed on 404 pages and the footers of their own websites. As such, don’t feel like you must settle for a website that forces you to deal with a million pop-ups, banner advertisements, and full-page spreads. At the least, your own content shouldn’t be obscured by the junk the free host wants to put in your way. A good rule of thumb is this: If the viewer can’t actually access your media because of a constant barrage of annoying adverts, it’s time to move onto another host.
Upload Options Aplenty
Next, and this is really the most important step out of the whole lot, ensure the free host provides you ample ways and means to put your site onto their shared server space. What we mean is, don’t settle for just one way to upload your site. Instead, ask for the full works. You’re going to want dedicated FTP support for the initial upload, as well as any changes you make to the site later. Additionally, also ask for and secure a third-party or browser-based method for uploading. This is always a good idea, as it gives you an avenue to post your changes to should you be away from your computer at home, and need to make modifications on the run.
Lastly, though hardly least, also ensure the host provides you with adequate support to meet your technical assistance needs. Again, we know you may feel weird asking for this, as you’re not paying anything up front, but as you’re still the breadwinner for your free host, they have every incentive to supply you with quality, up-front, and hard-working technical assistance, day or night. Besides, it’s vital that your site remain online for them to make money. In other words, the less problems your site encounters, the more money they make on the back-end. All of this, of course, equates to quality technical assistance through and through.
Free web hosting – When is it worth it?
Many things on the web are free. Many of us have Gmail address, Yahoo chat accounts, and even free bulk file storage. Free web hosting has been an option for a long time, but it has always come with caveats.
Those problems have not stemmed the tide of free web hosting services. There are still plenty of options for those who want to setup shop with a free host. So the question then is, are you one of these people?
The biggest problem – reliability
Although nothing lives forever, paid hosts have a much longer life expectancy than free hosts. With a free web hosting service you are in danger of having the entire site disappear from you on a moment’s notice. There have been several high-profile examples of this in the last few years. So if what you are hosting is something mission-critical, like a web site for a fully functioning business that takes orders and through which you need to communicate with customers constantly, this is a bad idea.
The next biggest problem – advertising
Of course there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so free web hosts for years have kept themselves afloat by offering advertising. While sidebar advertisements are so commonplace now that they don’t carry the social stigma that they used to, they still aren’t the best image for a company that is trying to establish legitimacy, especially since you will typically have little control over what kind of ads are posted.
The last big problem – no leverage
As a free web site user you are offering your host nothing. Or at least, you are not directly supporting their income in any way, and are only helping in the advertising of their name, not exactly a strong bargaining position when you are one of their 10 million users.
This means that if you do anything at all to irk them, you can likely find your account very unceremoniously shut down, with just about no recourse you can take for it, if you even can get a hold of someone to talk about it. This is more of a problem for someone that is hosting a site that is informational in nature and contains ideas that may be deemed controversial (say, a political blog), but it’s not uncommon for web hosts to have a spectacular spasm of paranoia over just about anything, and to shut down anyone who is remotely tied to the topic, no matter how absurd the connection. Shoot first and ask questions later is the modus operandi of such actions, if they even bother to ask questions at all.
“Other than that, how was the play?”
Now, if you can get past that, then remember that web hosts still offer free space for a reason, and that reason is not something they are going to mess with if they don’t have to. This means that if you can get past the above criteria, a free web host is a good choice for someone who is doing something small, something that can be interrupted for a day or two if it comes to it, such as a personal blog, a church, a community group, or just for personal experimentation with web design. Free web hosting is not a good idea for anyone who requires a host that is consistent, reliable and stable. But if your needs are not that high, then there’s no reason to be spending money where you don’t have to. It’s not like there’s a lot of spare cash going around these days as it is.