Whether you’re looking to create a personal website about yourself or a site focused on your business, you need to have a web hosting in place so people can access it. Many people who are just getting started to find that some companies offer free hosting and are tempted to save some money by going that route.

Key Takeaways

  • There are two ways that companies offer free hosting, when web hosting companies know that their customers are usually dissatisfied with the free services that they offer and if they make money from these accounts by inserting advertisements onto your website.
  • When you sign up for a free hosting account, you can expect to experience some or all of the following issues: slow speed, poor customer service, severe feature limits, frequent downtime, and no stability.
  • There is a huge difference in quality between free hosting and inexpensive entry-level shared hosting packages.

Best Web Hosting Providers

Free web hosting is helpful when starting your business, but, as you’ll read below, it’s not always the most reliable option. A reliable web host ensures your site is available to your customers at all times so the benefits will outweigh the costs. To help, here’s our short list of the best web hosting providers:

  1. Bluehost: Best Overall Web Hosting
  2. DreamHost: Best Shared Hosting
  3. A2 Hosting: Best Hosting for Stores that Need Speed
  4. SiteGround: Best Customer Support for New Stores
  5. WP Engine: Best Managed WordPress Hosting

Why Do Web Hosts Use Free Hosting to Lure You In?

web hosting banner
Source: Expressvps.net

How are they making money with this? Well, there are two ways that companies that offer free hosting are benefiting. 

  1. Web hosts know customers are always looking for something better
  2. Web hosts make money from these accounts

Web Hosts Know Customers Are Always Looking For Something Better

First, web hosting companies know that their customers are usually dissatisfied with the free services that they offer. When a customer does decide that they want to get improved hosting solutions, they’ll likely upgrade to a paid account with that company. 

So, from this perspective, the company looks at the expenses related to providing free hosting as part of its marketing costs.

Web Hosts Make Money From These Accounts

The other reason many places offer free hosting is that they can make money from these accounts. Most free hosting providers insert advertisements onto your website

Any time someone visits your page, they’ll be earning a small amount of money, which they keep. Some hosting companies even insert affiliate links onto these pages so that they can earn even more.

While free hosting can be a good idea in some extremely rare circumstances, it’s usually a mistake.

How Hosting Companies Offer Free Services

Web hosts also keep their costs extremely low so they can give the hosting away. But, when you sign up for a free hosting account, you can expect to experience some or all of the following issues:

  • Very slow speeds
  • Poor customer service
  • Severe feature limits
  • Frequent downtime
  • No stability

Very Slow Speeds

Hosting companies use old hardware that’s out of date and doesn’t provide fast response times. They also put a large number of websites on each hosting server, which results in much slower response times. 

Poor Customer Service

In almost all cases, customers on free hosting accounts aren’t able to get the same customer service that’s typically available for paid hosting customers.

Severe Feature Limits

You won’t be able to make modifications to the server on a free hosting account. In most cases, you also won’t get key features such as automatic backups, email addresses, SSL certificates, and more. 

Frequent Downtime

Downtime is quite common on free hosting accounts and they don’t come with any type of uptime guarantee.

No Stability

In addition to being unstable due to the outages, many companies that offer free hosting either go out of business or stop offering this service. When that happens, your site will go offline and all your files will be lost.

What Should You Look for in a Web Hosting Provider?

Free Web Hosting
Source: Dreamhost.com

Whenever shopping around for web hosting for your site, find the right balance between high-quality features and a price you can afford. 

For example, you don’t want to sign up for a dedicated hosting server if you’re running a simple site for your small business, since you would be wasting lots of money each month.

Source: Bluehost

Most sites for individuals and small businesses ― especially local small businesses ― want to look for a good, shared hosting account

Mid-sized businesses, or those running sites with a fairly high amount of traffic, should choose the best virtual private server (VPS) they can find. 

Only the largest sites or those with major system requirements require dedicated servers. As long as you opt to do business with a reputable hosting company, you can always upgrade from one type of hosting to another without any downtime.

What to Do If You Must Start With a Free Web Hosting Provider

While rare, there are certain times when you’ll want to go with a free hosting account. For example, if you’re just practicing your web design skills, a free hosting solution may allow you to do that without spending money. 

In addition, if you have absolutely no budget available, a free hosting account may be better than nothing. Make sure you think everything through before you decide to push forward with free hosting.

Tips to Find the Best Free Web Hosting

The following are some simple tips that you can use to ensure you get the best free hosting around.

  • Find out how long has the company been in business
  • Find out what type of advertisements are they running on your site
  • Read customer reviews
  • Look into their paid options

Find Out How Long Has the Company Been in Business

How old is the company providing the free hosting? You want to work with a well-established company to reduce the risk of them disappearing.

Find Out What Type of Advertisements Are They Running on Your Site

Make sure you know exactly what types of ads they’ll be putting on your site. Some free hosting companies put ads that are either unsafe ― due to viruses or malware ― or even “adult” in nature. The last thing you want for your family blog is to see an advertisement for an inappropriate product or service.

Read Customer Reviews

It’s always a good idea to read professional web hosting reviews to see what type of reputation they have.

Look Into Their Paid Options

If possible, find a company that has good quality paid hosting available in addition to their free options. This will ensure you can upgrade to something better when it becomes necessary.

If you choose free web hosting, ensure you get the best one available. Keep in mind that even the best free hosting isn’t going to be nearly as good as even an entry-level inexpensive hosting package.

Best Free Hosting Option

If you are sure that you want to go with free hosting, there are a number of options out there. Five of the best that we have found are from Bluehost, Dreamhost, A2 Hosting, Siteground, and WP Engine.

While their service is very basic, it should be enough to get your site up and running without any major problems. Once ready, you will also be able to upgrade to a great paid hosting service.

Bluehost: Best Overall Web Hosting

BlueHost Dashboard

Bluehost offers a variety of professional web hosting services. Their free hosting services can be upgraded to premium plans with a starting price of $2.75 per month and range to as high as $13.95 per month for their four website hosting packages. It supports 99.96% uptime, making it one of the most reliable options on this list. It offers shared, dedicated, VPS, and WordPress server types with 24/7 customer support via chat and phone.

DreamHost: Best Shared Hosting

DreamHost Dashboard

DreamHost is a service known for providing options that meet the needs of a wide range of users. It offers a FREE Shared Hosting plan (including email hosting) to non-profit, charitable organizations registered in the United States. Its plans include website builders, database backups, and SSL certificates as well as one free domain name. DreamHost plans start at $2.59 per month for WordPress hosting, website builder, or website hosting; VPS hosting is $10 per month; cloud hosting is $0.0075 per hour, and dedicated hosting is $169 per month.

A2 Hosting: Best Hosting for Stores that Need Speed

A2 Hosting Dashboard

A2 Hosting is a Better Business Bureau-accredited company offering a range of hosting packages. Prices start at $2.99 per month for shared hosting, and the company also offers reselling, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server hosting.

SiteGround: Best Customer Support for New Stores

SiteGround Dashboard

With Google Cloud, SSD drives, and their own custom optimization solutions, SiteGround is able to achieve some of the fastest speeds and best reliability in the industry. Hosting plans from this provider include web, WordPress, WooCommerce, and cloud hosting options.

WP Engine: Best Managed WordPress Hosting

WPEngine Themes

WP Engine is an excellent hosting option for WordPress users. With their most basic plan, StartUp Managed Hosting, you get 10 GB storage, 50 GB bandwidth, daily backups, free automated migrations, 30+ premium WordPress themes, and 24/7 support for one site.

When To Switch To Paid Hosting

switch to paid web hosting banner
Source: Wpexplorer.com

Planning how and when to move to a higher-quality option now helps ensure you’re ready when the time comes. Here are some key indicators that you need to move to paid hosting for your small business website:

  • Your website starts making money
  • You need to provide a better customer experience
  • If you’re worried about your website’s downtime
  • When your business is growing

Your Website Starts Making Money

If you are making money from your website, you definitely want to use paid hosting. The unexpected downtimes and slow response times will almost certainly end up costing you more than the small monthly costs of good shared hosting. 

You Need To Provide a Better Customer Experience

If you have customers or potential customers who visit your website in order to learn about your business, you need it to be up and responsive at all times. Using paid hosting ensures your customers are getting a good experience when they visit your site.

If You’re Worried About Your Website’s Downtime

If you have a free hosting account, you will need to check your site frequently to make sure it is up and running the way it should be. If you are tired of having to monitor the site, paying for hosting is a simple solution. 

When Your Business Is Growing

The most common reason why your business may need to upgrade to paid hosting is that you are getting more traffic to your site. Almost all free hosting accounts will have strict limits on disk space, bandwidth, and even the number of visitors you can get each month. 

Another thing to think about if you decide to go with free web hosting is when you should upgrade to a paid hosting package. If you want your site to grow and become popular, you’ll eventually need to upgrade and find the best hosting for your situation.

Exceptional Web Hosting Doesn’t Have to Break Your Budget

Source: Techradar.com

While few people would expect free hosting to be of the highest quality, most people don’t realize that you can get good hosting for a few dollars (or less) per month. 

There is a huge difference in quality between free hosting and inexpensive entry-level shared hosting packages. 

With some research, you can find the best cheap web hosting available so that you can have a great hosting experience.

Source: Hostinger

Take Your Web Hosting Planning Seriously

While it may be tempting to jump right into free web hosting since you may think that you have nothing to lose, that isn’t the case. 

The amount of time and frustration that you’ll endure dealing with the free hosting cannot be discounted. In addition, as your site grows, you’ll undoubtedly have to upgrade to a paid hosting solution at some point, which can be problematic.

You want to think hard about what type of hosting you need now and in the future. Whether you decide to move forward with free hosting or opt for something of higher quality, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.