When it comes to technology, there is no doubt that it can have a huge impact on the overall success or failure of a business. Technology helps with nearly every aspect of operating a business, especially when it comes to their online presence. A good website and strong utilization of the internet are both important for the success of a business, and web hosting is a key part of setting up a good web presence.
Of course, there are numerous businesses out there that offer web hosting for a fee. However, not all businesses want to pay for their hosting and as a result there are numerous free web hosting options available as well. If you’re looking for a web host, taking a closer look at these free options will likely be something you end up doing. This guide should help you understand more about the basic of free web hosting, how to find a good one, and whether or not ‘free’ is really better for you.
Usually, free web hosting services offer a convenient way to build a website and will host your site on their servers. Their income usually comes from advertisements. For instance, you may be able to build a free site, but on your pages will be ads that you have no control over. In some cases this may even be an ad for a competing business. Other free hosting services utilize a premium model, where extra features and services are only available by paying a monthly fee. Potential extra features that you may not have access to without paying include:
- Video hosting
- Non-subdomain URL
- Metric and analytic reports
- SEO features
- And more
In other words, you’ll likely be able to build a basic website and have it hosted for free, but you’ll still have certain aspects of what you do limited and locked behind a pay wall. Still, for many these free web hosting services are more than enough to get started with an online presence before taking the next steps towards a full-featured site later on.
Example of a basic website:
It’s important to understand that one of the biggest drawbacks to a free web hosting service is simply the fact that they will usually require a subdomain URL. Instead of getting a www.mywebsite.com URL, for example, your site will usually end up being www.mywebsite.myhostingservice.com. For most, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reality is that it can often look a bit unprofessional in the eyes of visitors. As a result, taking the extra step to get an official URL may be a better option. In many cases you can continue to use the free hosting service’s setup and design tools but pay a small fee for the non-subdomain URL.
As for the actual free hosting service, there are a few things to look at. Chief among them will be the range of features and capabilities of your hosting service. Consider the following.
- What type of features can you add to your site? Some hosting services won’t allow video or sound images, for instance. Others will only allow you to embed URLs for YouTube videos, while some of them will actually allow you to upload and host your own videos right on the server. Be sure your hosting service lets you add what is needed.
- Is there a website creation tool? Most free hosting services feature drag and drop website design tools that make it easy to create a website while some simply host your page and require you to use HTML or third party tools to create your site. You’ll want to know what your options are when you start creating your site.
- What is your storage limit? Depending on the website you’re building, more storage space on the server may be needed – and could cost extra.
- What is the file size limit? Similarly, many free hosting sites will restrict files of a certain size and above. For instance, a 3 or 5 MB file size limit may exist that means you can’t upload files of more than that size.
- Are there live storage requirements? Some of today’s web hosts restrict storage-only server use by requiring that the service be used to host a live, working website. If you only need online storage you may need a specialized service.
- How much does it cost to upgrade to a standard .com URL? When you’re ready to go beyond the subdomain URL, you’ll want to know the cost.
- What is the bandwidth? A faster hosting service allows you to quickly transfer files and ensures that those who visit the site don’t end up leaving before the page is loaded properly.
- How many domains can you have hosted? Many free hosting services will allow you to build multiple sites. This is great if you have multiple sides of your business that need to be represented.
- Is there email? It’s also worth thinking about the email functionality of your hosting service. Will your site have its own email address or will you need to use an external third party service?
- Are there ads? Simply put, not all web hosting services utilize ads to bring in their income. Some do, and you’ll need to weigh out whether or not you mind the ads for the kind of results you can get.
- How easy is it to update your site? Many sites use an integrated blog feature, but others may utilize traditional design tools. No matter what, you’ll want to ensure that you can keep your site as up to date as possible in order to ensure the information on it is as current as it can be.
No matter what your situation may be, there is a strong possibility that the use of free web hosting could be all you need to get started online. At some point you may need to upgrade, while others find that a free service is all they need. Either way, be sure to consider your options and get the kind of online presence you deserve.