Why Choose Free Web Hosting?
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There are some general advantages to not paying for a hosting service. The first, of course, is that you're saving money by not paying for that service, so you can spend your money on other products and services. Other advantages include:
- not paying for services that you're not using—a situation that people who purchase shared hosting have in common with those who use cable television service: there's a whole lot being offered that is of no interest or use to you, but your monthly fee is subsidizing it for other services you are interested in, and
- a chance to figure out what you want to do before making a financial investment.
In addition, there are at least three different types of free hosts, and for each one, there are advantages for customers in certain circumstances. So let's look at the three types, both what they are and what kind of user they serve well.
Free Hosting with Paid Domain Name Registration
In this case, you get the hosting service as a bonus for using another paid service, the registration of your domain name. The advantages of obtaining hosting this way include not having to deal with multiple businesses, one for your domain name registration renewals and another for your hosting needs. Another advantage is that if you need to upgrade your service because the free plan that is offered no longer meets your needs, your host/registrar will likely be able to accommodate you.
Free Service using a Subdomain
There are five different subgroups of this type of free hosting, in which each customer uses a subdomain of the URL of the hosting organization, thereby spreading their name and fame along with your own. Here they are:
- Your ISP—The Internet Service Provider through whom you connect to the Internet may provide you with a small amount of free disk space as a feature of your connectivity agreement. In most cases, the space and bandwidth allotment is minimal and commercial sites are prohibited. Comcast is an example of an ISP that provides customers with this perk. The Comcast Personal Web Page includes a website builder, blogging capability, and a File Manager with 1 GB of storage space.
- Blogging Applications—Software providers like WordPress and Blogger offer a free option for hosting your blog. Free blogs have some restrictions and you may have to pay for upgrades. All Blogger blogs are free and hosted by Google, who now owns Blogger, but WordPress has an alternative model in which you can pay for hosting for your blog, in which case all features of the blog are free (you just pay to have it hosted).
- Social Network Sites—If you like, you can build up the allotted space on your Facebook or MySpace page or business page and use it as your website. This not only keeps you from paying hosting fees, but is also an immediate system to make connections—either personal or for your business.
- A Web Host—The web hosts that offer free services on a subdomain may be using this means to introduce customers to their service and hope they'll upgrade to paid service. They also may not. If not, beware, because you're likely to find no uptime guarantee, no customer or technical support, no backups, and a lot of other negatives.
- Photo Hosting Sites—Flickr and PhotoBucket can save you from the large overhead of paying for hosting for images and videos, while allowing you to display your work with as much privacy or as much publicity as you like.
Free Hosting if You Allow Advertisements
Some hosts will allow you to use a registered domain name on your free site, provided you accept advertisements on your site. If you're looking for a site to set up a surprise birthday party for the boss without her knowing, then you won't care about the advertisements or the URL. And if you just want to get a feel for the web, then it won't matter either. You should, however, make sure the service is reputable before signing up. In most cases, web pages have at least some personal information, and you know the saying about taking candy from strangers . . .
Related Article: Disadvantages of Free Hosts >>