Free Web Hosting – Is It a Good Idea?

With the economy still struggling, many webmasters are looking for ways to cut costs.  One of the options available to them is free web hosting.  Instead of paying the £10 or so a month for a paid web host, you can work with a company that will host your website for free.  But is this a good idea, or would you be better cutting costs in other areas?  Let’s take a closer look.

Domain Name

A free web host, such as WordPress or Blogger, will not usually allow you to own your own domain name.  So instead of having something like www.mysite.com, you will be stuck with a domain like www.mysite.blogspot.com.  It is clear to anyone who stumbles across your site that you are utilising a free domain name.  And, whilst this may be okay for people who run personal blogs, it’s not a good idea for businesses or people who want to run professional websites.  A free hosting domain doesn’t give the impression that you are serious about your business.

It’s Not Easy to Upgrade

Usually, if you decide to change your domain in the future, you can simply set up a 301 redirect from your old page.  A 301 redirect doesn’t just transfer visitors to your new domain, it also transfers between 90 and 99% of the link juice you have created for your old domain.  So, let’s just imagine that you have spent three years building up a website on a .blogspot domain, and you want to switch to paid hosting.  Unfortunately, the majority of free hosting providers do not enable you to set up 301 redirects, and so all of the effort you have spent on SEO will not be passed on to your new site.  In effect, you will have to start building your site from scratch.

Limitations

Free web hosts also come with a number of limitations, which vary depending on the provider.  Some of the ones you may encounter include:

  • Limitations on the ads you can include to monetise your site
  • Limitations on the file sizes you can upload – many don’t allow photos bigger than 5MB
  • Poor or non existent customer service
  • Limited search engine visibility
  • Limitations in the type of pages you can upload, with HTML being the norm
  • Limitations in reliability

Again, these limitations might not be an issue if you are simply blogging for personal reasons.  However, if you want to run an online magazine, for example, or want to set up a business website, these can hold you back significantly.

Is it a Good Idea?

Unless all you want to do is run a personal blog, free web hosting is generally not a bad idea.  And, when you consider that you can get paid web hosting for as little as £2.49 a month (click here if you don’t believe us), you could just switch to a cheaper provider and enjoy a great service.  If you run a business, or a popular website, there are better ways to cut costs than by downgrading to a free web host.

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