Finding the right place to host your new website or blog can be a challenge. With literally thousands of hosting solutions available online, how can you know which one to choose?
Each hosting solution offers its own pros and cons: depending on the price, you may find it has everything you need or a bunch of things you don't. Ultimately, price does affect what you get in the world of web hosting.
But what about free web hosting services? There are plenty of people who use these services for one reason or another, but they do come with a number of drawbacks. Today, we'll talk about the downsides of free web hosting and point to the 8 biggest reasons why it may not be right for you.
Lack of Features
One of the best things about web hosting is the ability to control what you do and easily manage new features and jobs. With basic free hosting packages, you're probably not going to have a lot of extras. This can mean that anything from auto-installation services to root directory access is off-limits to you. Ultimately, those who have to customise their domains extensively may not be able to use free hosting, as it requires fundamental access to every aspect of the hosting solution. Generally, a massive lack of features to accommodate this is common with free hosting solutions.
Restrictions on Bandwidth
Any website that intends on growing needs to be concerned about bandwidth. The amount of data that can be transmitted to and fro when people visit your website is one of the biggest factors to affect overall hosting costs. It only makes sense then that free hosting providers will likely limit the amount of bandwidth you have.
Some free hosting solutions understand this and offer free hosting packages specifically because of it. If and once your website grows, you'll feel obligated to upgrade to one of their premium packages for more bandwidth.
Restrictions on Storage
Much like with bandwidth, storage space is a crucial aspect of any hosting plan. As you might have guessed, free hosting services aren't going to provide you with unlimited storage. Read the conditions of your free hosting package carefully: chances are that there is a hard cap on how much you can store on their servers.
Again, as a site grows, it needs more storage to host all of its content, databases and media. Ultimately, these companies that offer free hosting with limited storage may be hoping to turn your free agreement into a paid one. Because of this, it may not be worth it to start off with a free service.
No Guaranteed Backup
One of the biggest disasters that can happen to any online brand or business is a loss of data. Imagine you wake up one morning and all of your blog posts, pages and content have disappeared from the internet. You contact the hosting provider, only to find out that your free package doesn't guarantee backups of data.
While you may be able to circumvent this downside by performing your own routine backups, many people find free hosting to be lacking because of this common disadvantage. Without a consistent process to ensure your data is secure, a free hosting provider could be a game of Russian roulette.
In this day and age, cyber security is one of the most important aspects of a website's existence. Not only do you want to keep prying eyes out of your website's infrastructure, but you also want to ensure your customers and subscribers feel secure in providing you with their information.
Unfortunately, many free hosting packages fail to provide solid security services that prevent brute force attacks and other schemes. Anything from DDoS attacks to exploits of older WordPress versions could result in your website being temporarily or permanently compromised. You shouldn't expect much help from the hosting provider in terms of a solution if you have a problem, either.
With free hosting services, you generally get what you pay for. Ultimately, this means that your website will be hosted on a server with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of other websites. This can be a problem for a number of reasons.
First of all, speed: when sharing server resources with countless other domains, your pages may not load as quickly as they otherwise could. This can result in slower page loading times and actually impact your ranking in search engine results.
Another potential problem is server association: when potentially questionable websites are flagged by search engines, it can sometimes lead to problems for any and all other websites on that same server. If you don't want to potentially have problems based on what others have done, then dedicated hosting is the best solution. Most hosting companies have terms of service that help mitigate this risk, however.
Bad Customer Service
When you're being given something for free, don't be surprised when people aren't willing to invest heavily in you. Free hosting services come with little to no customer service: if something goes wrong, you're either liable for fixing the problem or at the whim of the company, who will fix it whenever they deem it necessary.
Last but not least, free hosting often comes with strings attached: the biggest one is advertisements. You may have your website designed and ready-to-go – only to discover that upon launch, there are several ads placed strategically on each page of your website. This is because the hosting company is attempting to recoup its losses through ad revenue, which is something you can't prevent. Having your own hosting solution can prevent any chance of unwanted ads being displayed on your website.
As it should be abundantly clear by now, free hosting solutions come with plenty of strings attached. From limitations on the amount of storage and bandwidth to a reduction of features and security, there are many reasons why free hosting is even possible in the first place.
If you're operating a simple web-based presence without much fanfare, a free hosting package may be acceptable. Otherwise, you're probably going to want to invest in a premium solution that gives you more control, flexibility and security over your own website.