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The Truth about Free Web Page Hosting
By Michelle Timothy

To start off you should know that nothing is ever really free. Free web hosting may not cost you money but it can cost you. The web hosting service is free to you because the provider plans to make money somehow based on your presence or your site traffic. So with that comes some restrictions, I have listed most of the common restrictions here. Some free web page host providers have all of the listed restrictions some have just a few. If you are building a professional web presence most of these restrictions can make or break your business.

Banners and pop-ups
Free hosting servers usually place banners and/or pop-ups on your page disrupting and distracting from the overall effect of the design of your page. It is not a professional look. It communicates to your visitor that you are not that serious about your business. Most likely you will have no control over the type of advertising being shown to your visitors.

Limited disk space
Free web page providers offer very limited disk space, usually 2-10mb versus the standard 300-500mb with a paid account. Files such as Flash, voice, music, ebooks and high resolution photos can take up a lot of disk space.

Free hosting servers are not accountable to you for reliable up time. They shut down for maintenance, updates and servicing (sometimes daily) or struggle with bandwidth issues, which could be disastrous for you if someone is trying to access your page at that moment. That visitor may never return. Also beware the terms of service, operating policies and owners could change at any moment and the transition may not be smooth.

Domain names
Some free web page hosts do not allow you to direct a real domain name or even a redirect to your page. You'll end up with a hard to remember and hard to type domain name like; http://www.theirdomain.com/members/yourname/index.htm as opposed to the simple and easier to remember http://www.yourname.com
If you find a free server that allows redirects, your redirect URL will look something like this http://www.yourdomain.xrs.net

Bandwidth issues
When hosting with a free web site host, you'll have limited bandwidth, so if you suddenly had too many visitors, your page may become unavailable to most of your visitors.

Free hosting php providers eliminate accounts frequently to free up disk space. If you do not visit the control panel once every 60- 90 days you may find your site has disappeared. All of your files will be gone forever.

Commercial activities
Read the TOS, a lot of free hosts do not support commercial activities like adding shopping carts, secure servers or selling anything from your page. They may shut you down if they notice it.

Bells and whistles
Free web site hosts rarely give you any type of programming support such as CGI, PHP or MySQL or FrontPage extensions. Depending on the type of web page you've created you may need these options.

Error messages and 404 pages
You will likely not be able to set up a custom 404 page. This is a fantastic way for the host provider to recycle your traffic for their own benefit. Your visitors who type in an address for a web page on your site that no longer exists will end up on a page advertising the free hosting service, or worse telling them that your site was removed for a particular reason

Appearances and first impressions
Your web site will represent you. You want to have a classy and professional look. Having a clean crisp site design, a dedicated domain name, reliable service, generous bandwidth and ample web space can give you that much desired good first impression.

As a business owner you'll want to communicate that you are professional and serious about your business, not that you are struggling financially or that you do things half way.

So there you have it. Obviously free has it place in the hosting world but paid is the way to go if you want to be a cut above the rest. Last but not least you cannot complain about something you get for free.


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