What Does Free Mean When It Comes To Web Hosting?

Is there anyone who is not attracted to the word “free?”  People clamor for anything from grocery coupons to movie tickets, from makeup samples to iPods, and even web hosting as long as it’s free.

Hosting companies allow webmasters (website creators) to host their website content on company’s servers and make it accessible to people through the World Wide Web. Although, there are many types of web hosting, it can mainly be classified into two categories; free and paid hosting.

Why do you think there are so many free hosting companies competing with each other?  How do they benefit from giving away their hosting free?

To be able to understand the functioning of a free web hosting company better, it helps to take a look at the pros and cons first.

Free Web Hosting

The web host provides server space to users without charging them a fee, and users upload their website content to this space.  This is a good option for new marketers as these free hosts are newbie-friendly and the process involved in uploading a website to their servers is usually pretty simple.

Is there a catch?

As expected, there is!  While offering users the privilege of hosting their web pages free on their servers, the free hosts retain certain rights on these pages which can prove to be disadvantageous for the users.

Forced Advertising: The host uses the web pages for advertising, by placing banners, popunders or popup windows. As if this is not bad enough, some web hosts even impose restrictions on webmasters from using banner exchanges on their websites.  There is nothing webmasters can do as this is a favor expected of them, if they wish to get their hosting free.

There are some web hosts that require webmasters to click on banners during the sign up or in the control panel. One of the latest methods being adopted by free web hosting companies is the requirement for the webmasters to post in forums, in an attempt to populate their websites with visitors.

Low Bandwidth: Another issue is that of low bandwidth, which reflects in the time taken to load pages.  We have all come across sites that take ages to open and it can be quite frustrating. This is exactly how it could be with a free web host.  For people looking to improve their businesses, this factor alone could prove to be detrimental.

Unclear Terms and Conditions: The terms and conditions of some of these web hosts are not stable and even if you happen to find a web host that does not advertise on the web pages, there is always the possibility that they will include that in the future.

Downtime and Lack of Support: Downtime is the time the server is down, resulting in inaccessibility of the web pages hosted on the server. This spells danger for a thriving or even a growing business.  Webmasters are left biting their nails, waiting in anticipation as the support is really not great – well, it’s free after all.

Difficult to Move: Okay, “Webmaster X” has had enough and wants to shift to a paid hosting.  But he’s not able to, because he used the templates provided by the host. In some cases, the host’s name is included in the URL, making it tough to change providers.

While free hosting is “free” in terms of money, websites lose more money in the long run because it limits the functioning of their business. Considering the advertising, low bandwidth, less web space, downtime, lack of proper support and other limitations, a business website is better off with a good paid web hosting company.

Then there are some companies that charge higher for domain names to compensate for the so-called “free” hosting they offer.

But amidst all these, there are some genuine free web hosting companies that are open about what they expect from the webmasters. Such hosts can be great for personal pages meant for the family and friends, or even for small businesses that can manage with limited storage, limited bandwidth, slow uploads, almost no support and can live with forced ads.

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