Everyone likes Free Stuff! All of Us! But you need to consider whether Free Stuff is the best approach for optimizing your business. Although most free and really cheap web hosting sound like a good deal, they really aren’t good for you. Fundamentally, there are problems with using a free web hosting company for any type of e-commerce or business website, and I’m going to discuss and explain those issues now.
Let´s start with the simplest of requirements – If you’re only looking for a platform to put a small, simple personal blogging website, then free web hosting may be what you’re looking for, it just depends how serious your objectives are.
But, consider your decision carefully about whether you can afford to spend even a few dollars a month, as a paid host is really a better deal, even for a personal web site.
We totally understand if you really can’t afford to pay a thing at the moment, and you want a “free” hosted website, then my recommendation is to get a blog at either Blogger.com or WordPress.com, and use that for your website.
Don´t worry, as we have all been there, when money is tight and credit even tighter, so just do what you can until the financial position improves and then upgrade your system to a paid platform when the opportunity arises, and your requirements become more sophisticated.
Blogger.com and WordPress.com – Free Platforms
Both of these platforms, Blogger.com and WordPress.com are very stable and extremely easy to use, and as long as your purpose is simply to have a personal website accessed by a few friends and relatives, they’ll do the job adequately for you.
If you want to make some money, then you can set up an AdSense account on your website, or alternatively put affiliate links on your posts that lead to your affiliate partner´s sales pages.
For the purpose of making a commercial website, Blogger.com is a little more friendly to facilitate monetization than WordPress.com.
You will find that the search engines like both of these platforms, and you may find an audience there and discover that your personal blog is much more popular than you thought it could be.
10 Disadvantages of Free Webhosting
However, bear in mind that most other free web hosts come with one or more of the following problems, and really greatly limit or inhibit your ability to conduct business online efficiently.
- Long urls, with the free web hosts name in them. This doesn’t instill much confidence in prospective buyers or clients. An example of this is .siterubix.com, which is the url provided when you sign up for free webhosting with Wealthy Affiliate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but people will generally prefer to subscribe to a simpler domainname.com, rather than a siterubix.com website.
- Free web host sponsored links and advertising. People who click on these ads make money for them, not you, and leave your website. So in this case you have acted like the honey to attract the bear, but you don’t get anything out of the visit, or transaction.
- Space and bandwidth given to web sites by free hosting companies are normally quite small, so will generally restrict what you can do, and the speed and ease of access by your visitors.
- Restricted ability for you to advertise or run a business web site that processes purchases. The free webhost looks after their own interests first, so your aspiration to generate money from your website is not a prime concern of theirs.
- No ability to obtain SSL certificates or for you to handle transactions securely, even if they are allowed. This is a major drawback as there are more and more online security threats, and to be in control of your own site´s security, you need to have your own domain and pay for its security.
- The Technology used at these free or low cost sites is not necessarily state of the art, and they can be slow to load. Loading Speed is more and more important as your visitors will not tolerate slow loading sites, they will just click away as soon as they become impatient, which tends to be very quickly, moving towards 1 second gradually. Mobile usage is a big consideration as well, since more and more users operate from a mobile rather than a desktop computer.
- Pearl, CGI and scripts may not be updated to current versions, and requests for updates may be denied, unless you chose an unusually good platform.
- Support may be not very good or quick to respond. With some free web hosts, support may be virtually non-existent. Of course, this is what you expect as support costs money, and free platforms need to keep their costs down.
- Naturally, most free platforms do not give you the tools that you need to build a web site, such as an online site builder and templates, or a free script library to install blogs, galleries, or other features.
- Cron jobs, which are necessary to run certain scripts and other features, are often not provided or allowed with free platforms. Also databases may not be provided or allowed, which is a big drawback if you are trying to build a list of email subscribers.
In addition to all of this, free web hosting and really cheap web hosting (especially those that allow you to pay by the month), attract spammers, scammers, phishers and hackers. These low-lifes of the internet world may wind up on your shared IP address, and can cause you problems that we can discuss when we consider cheap web hosting.
In my opinion, if you just want a personal web site to put your thoughts or opinions online, then by all means get a free blog and start writing. You are aware of, and can operate within the constraints and limitations imposed on you by free hosting platforms.
Paid Webhosting – What Is The Range Of Options Available?
If your intention is to make a living online, or at least to have a professional online business presence, you’re going to have to pay for a real domain name and your web hosting. If you wish to be successful, and you want to make getting a full featured professional web site up and running as easy as possible, and you want access to a quick, responsive tech support team to help you do it, then you really need to budget for and afford the best possible “premium” web hosting, depending on what your aims and objectives are.
There are a whole range of paid webhosting options available, so how do you choose what is appropriate for your own needs?
As with free web hosts, if you’re just setting up a small personal site, but want to build the site yourself, and want more flexibility as to the template you use, and want to be able to add pictures, video and audio, then a real cheap host may be a good deal for you, and sufficient for your needs. But for a business or e-commerce web site, cheaper is not always a bargain. You need to efficiently convert visitors into customers, so do not need to be constrained from that objective.
One relatively low cost way of blogging on a reliable platform is to subscribe to Medium.com, which will cost you around $50 per annum, and enables you to post unlimited blogs or articles.
Really cheap web hosting plans usually have one or more of the same problems as free hosting. Slow speed, small space and bandwidth, overselling of both space and bandwidth, lack of service and tech support, and less than state of the art security and equipment. And there are a few problems with really cheap web hosts that can really impact your business website.
First, if you’re building your first website or your tenth, you’re probably going to run into some problems or issues. A good premium hosting company will help make the process easier by giving you a online Site Builder and templates to make building the web site easier, and will also have a script library to make installing a blog, photo gallery, forum, or online store much easier and simpler to do. Still, you may have problems or questions as you build and launch your web site. In my opinion, having a good, quick tech support system in place is the biggest benefit of going with a premium hosting company. A really good one will have sufficient staff to provide rapid responses to support tickets, plus chat and phone support, for when you really need it.
You may think that going with a well known web host that may offer what appears to be an unbelievable deal is your best bet, but the primary complaints that most people have with the really large cheap hosts have to do with their lack of support. Many of them seem to spend more on advertising and celebrity endorsements to gain more customers, than they do on providing service and support to their existing customers. If you never need to use tech support, then one of these web hosts may work just fine for you, just make sure you understand how some of their advertising “low balls” their actual costs.
Really cheap web hosts advertise prices from $2.95 to $4.95 a month, and some also advertise month to month payments. I even saw one that had a special deal and offered the first month of hosting for $1! What they don’t reveal in their ads, is the fact that to get the lowest price or the special deal, you often have to pay for your hosting for 2-5 years in advance! For example, one site the advertises a $3.95 a month plan, and a monthly payment option, only gives you that $3.95 price if you pay 5 years in advance. For paying for one year, the price is actually $8.95 a month, and to pay by the month it goes up to $9.95 a month! Some web hosting companies also offer great specials for the first month or first year, to get you to sign up, but then the price to continue hosting with them is much higher than you would pay for a good premium hosting plan.
The final major problem with really cheap web hosting, especially from sites that offer month to month payment plans, is that they attract spammers, phishers, hackers and other internet bottom feeders. The problem for your business web site, is that your may wind up sharing an IP address with one of these sites. If you use email to send newsletters or sales flyers to your clients, you may find your emails blocked by one or more of the major mail servers, simply because a spammer who shares your IP address has broken the rules. Eventually, your web host will confirm to the email service that they have removed the offending account, and eventually your IP will be unblocked, but in the meantime, you can’t communicate with your customers. Meanwhile, the spammer or phisher knew their account would be shut down in a matter of days or weeks, and they don’t care. They spend as little as possible to open the site, paste up a cloned website, make a few dollars on their scam, and just move on to another really cheap web host when their account is closed.
The fact that these bargain hosting companies get so many spam and phishing complaints can hurt your business in another way. You may be unfairly accused of spamming, simply because a few of your clients click your email into their spam folder, rather than clicking on your unsubscribe link. Many people simply don’t realize that doing that can lodge a spam complaint against you with their email provider, they just didn’t want to receive your emails anymore. When they receive the spam complaint from the email provider, most premium hosts will give you a chance to provide documentation that you aren’t a spammer, before they close down your account. However, some of the large really cheap hosts have adopted a policy of “guilty until proven innocent”, since the majority of the complaints they receive are valid. You may find your website shut down, and your domain name locked up for weeks, while you prove your innocence to your hosting company.
Summary and Conclusion – Free or Paid Webhosting
For the most part, when it comes to web hosting, like with most things, you get what you pay for. But, this doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and a leg to get great hosting. In fact, the difference in price between a good premium web host and a really cheap one can be only a few dollars a month. It just depends on your exact set up and requirements.
Of course, you can pay a lot more, and some premium hosts charge up to $39.95 a month or more to host one website. But you don’t have to pay anywhere near that amount to get great, full featured web hosting. I’ve been building and marketing web sites for several years, and before I switched to the web host I use now I researched literally thousands of web hosting companies to come up with the best one for hosting.
I tried out dozens of the ones that made the initial cut, using their 14-30 day trial periods to find out if they were as good as they said they were, and came up with a list of Top Ten Hosts that really deliver exceptional service and excellent hosting packages for a bargain price.
Here is my top 5 list of webhosting platforms:
A2hosting gives amazing value for money. I recently started using the platform and am trialling it for expansion in due course, so that I can bring all my websites under the unlimited hosting provided here. Here is an affiliate link to A2hosting if you want to try it out.
Siteground is a very fast and reliable platform. I host 2 of my best websites on this platform and find that it is extremely reliable.
Bluehost is also fast and reliable, and I have 2 more of my important websites hosted here. I have been using Bluehost since 2017.
- Wealthy Affiliate (WA):
WA is a great place to start building a website – you can build 2 websites for free (.siterubix.com) and host them indefinitely, as well as receive free training (10 lessons). You can purchase your own domains and host them on WA when you upgrade to premium membership, which costs $49 per month. I have 10 websites hosted on WA, 4 of which are siterubix.com, which I will probably upgrade in due course. I have been using WA since 2017, and recommend that you check out our review of Wealthy Affiliate here