Find the Best Free Web Hosting
Getting Started Choosing Free Web Hosting
Let's assume that you've already decided that free hosting is the way for you to go right now. Perhaps you've chosen it because you only need the service temporarily, say to plan an event, or you want to gain experience before you chose a paying service or you need to have a name in your URL that is not available for sale but is available as a sub-domain. Or maybe paying for a site is just not economically feasible for you right now.
Now, it may be the case that there is an over-riding reason to go with a particular free web host. This may well be the case if free hosting is offered along with registering a website, and you have a particular registrar that you prefer. Nevertheless, you might want to factor certain elements about the free web hosting part of this deal in with the considerations about domain name registration.
Even if you're pretty sure where you're going to host your site, I would urge you to consider certain factors that you should review as you make your choice of a free site: terms of service, customer service, capacity, extensibility, and functionality.
The Elements to Consider in Your Choice
• Terms of Service—You've seen lots of TOS agreements and they're largely the same, but if you're going to invest your time and effort in a website, it's worth knowing what these terms give and what they take. Check particularly to see if the free web host can close your account or shut down your website and, if so, under what conditions. Can you live with the TOS? Backups are a good plan anyway, but especially if you might lose your work.
Also check to see if you're agreeing to license your work to the free web host. Many people are surprised to find that they have licensed their copyrighted work to the host to be used in any way to promote the site, and by "any way," I mean altered, changed, edited, etc.
• Customer Service—Websites do not always "just work," unfortunately, and if you have a business, this could be a serious problem. Find out what the free web host promises and what it doesn't, and see if the service works for your purposes.
• Capacity—Capacity includes two important factors: your storage space and your bandwidth allowance/month. Make sure they both meet your needs. While some free hosting sites are offering unlimited free space, others restrict you to 100 MB, and you'd feel the difference pretty quickly. If you are creating a site from which others will download, remember to include an estimate for that use when considering bandwidth.
• Extensibility—Websites grow. Pages are added. Images are added. Files are added. At some point, you may outgrow your free space or bandwidth allowance or the features that are offered for free and need to shift over to a paying service. This can work really well . . . if there is a paying service that suits your needs. Otherwise, you may face the choice of working within the limits or choosing another host, a situation best avoided by a bit of planning, whenever possible.
• Functionality—Items to think about here include:
- uploading: how do you post the elements of your site? are their file size limits for upload?
- maintenance: is the control panel easy to understand? do you have control over the elements you need to control?
- downloading: how easy is it to get material from the site back to your local computer
- features: are the features that will serve your basic needs included? Are there templates and a web-builder (if these would be valuable to you)? What's the situation with CGI, databases, email accounts?
Since different free web hosts place their limits in different place, you may have some sifting to do before you find one that suits you. For example, here are descriptions of two free web hosting services, both of which offer upgrades.
150m.com offers customer phone support, CGI support, MySQL database support, no banner ads, and no limitations on site type. But the disk storage is 100 MB and file size is limited to 1 MB, with a 40 MB bandwidth daily limit.
HostUltra.com, on the other hand doesn't mention customer service for its free account not CGI support, does have MySQL database support available for a one-time $5 set-up fee, has ads, which can be removed for $25/year, has file type limitations (no audio or video or photo albums), and a requirement of 10 unique hits/week. At the same time, it offers unlimited disk space and unlimited data transfer. Like 150m.com, file size is limited to 1 MB.
There are hundreds of other offers available, with different configurations. but now you have some criteria to help you decide what might be the best free web hosting for you.
Related article: Cheap vs Free Web Hosting