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Rundown on Free Web Hosting
May 26, 2004

Wondering about the ins and outs pros and cons of free web hosting? This article gives you both sides of the story to help you decide if free hosting fits your needs.

How Does Free Web Hosting Work?

Free web hosting makes your website available on the World WideWeb with no charge to you. The web host makes money either from your yearly domain name registration, from advertising, or possibly both.

Free Hosting Advantages

The Price is Right—If this is your first venture online and you want to try it out without investing a lot of capital, free web hosting can allow you to create a web presence and see how it works for you.

An Easy Way to Get Started—Free web hosting services make it easy for people with not much experience to get started, often offering page templates or online site builders to help you get going. This removes the questions about software web design programs and learning HTML, so you can just keep your mind on presenting your content.

Up and At 'Em—Templates, site builders, upload tools, and web-based file managers all help you to go from no Internet presence to a site in a very short time.

Names Are Easier—Since many free web hosts offer service on subdomains of their own site, you have a fairly good chance of finding that the name you want is not taken. You also won't have to deal with domain registration and transfer in these early days of your acquaintance with the World Wide Web. If you have a subdomain, your URL will look something like this:

http://yourwebsitename.freehostname.com

Less Enticements—If what you need for your site is simple and straightforward, you won't end up with a package that includes features that may be good for somebody but not you. You may not need the extra webspace, the extra bandwidth, or 1000 email addresses, and you don't even have to think about them with free hosting. b

Cons of Free Hosting

Now, to balance out the picture, lets consider the other side of the picture, the aspects of free hosting that might be problematic for you for one reason or another, so you can make an informed decision.

Uptime/Downtime

Free hosting is the type of web hosting where you're most likely to find overcrowded servers, to the point where visitors' experience of your site may be impaired by slow loading and unresponsiveness. In addition, there may be frequent downtime. For these reasons, careful checking before you sign up is a priority.

What About Support

The bottom line is that you can't expect the kind of support that you are offered when you pay for a site. In the free hosting word, there isn't anything like 24/7/365 service, let alone phone service. In fact, there may not be any support at all. This is an especially important consideration if your business or livelihood depends on having things working properly.

Dearth of Features

Keep an eye on the future when you sign up. Even though you may be making your first venture onto the Internet and have very circumscribed needs to begin with, just as with any venture, once you get your feet wet, you may begin to see new possibilities and want to grow your site. Items that were unfathomable to you when you began may become features to die for. In addition, you may run out of space and transfer allowance. If your free web host does not have upgrades available, you may have to find a way to transfer your site (if possible) to a new web host, or start all over again with a new host. Better to know about this before you put your time and energy into the free service . . .

 A Big Ad, a Little You

One of the chief ways that free web hosting is supported is by advertisements: but advertisements, like banner ads text-link ads, and pop-up ads. Your visitors may have no problem with them or they could find them distracting and tasteless: even unprofessional. The other things about ads is, you never know just what your visitors are seeing (and ad for what?!) and despite the attractions, free hosting may not seem to be worth it.

What's My Line?

The fact that your name is most likely in a free web space subdomain may also make it difficult for your visitors to remember the entire site name properly and necessarily associates you with everyone who has a subdomain of the same host. In addition, your hunt for page rank is not going to be benefited by having a site that's a subdomain. For all  these reasons, the complications of registering your own domain name may start to look attractive.

The UpShot

Free hosting is a great way to get a quick start on the World Wide Web for a website that won't be undercut by the downsides of free web hosting, such as a personal site, an event site that's temporary, or to test the waters of what it's like to have a website. When you start thinking about running a business this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best or putting up anything where a professional appearance and a modicum of control are desirable, you probably should think about paying for hosting. Since there are very inexpensive shared hosting plans, you may find that you get the services you need without spending a lot more. The difference between $0.00/month and $4 or $7 a month is not a lot in a year, but it may turn out to be a world of difference in your and your visitor's Internet experience.

 

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