We all like not having to pay for things. It doesn’t really mean we shouldn’t, but with these hard times, getting something free is happily received. But what about web hosting? Will using a free web host (plenty around) end up causing you more pain and suffering than its worth?
In a simple word. Yes… and no. You need to ask yourself, what are your intentions?
If you plan on running a blog (and nothing more) than a free host is fine – that is, a free host that is not plagued by problems or run by a time-poor 15 year old student. These types of free hosts eventually go down sooner or later. Truth is, most free hosts go down sooner or later. I mention one below that seems to have stood the test of time and is consistently reliable.
However if you want to start a forum, these types of websites start growing “out of control” quickly to the point your free hosting may not be able to cope after your forum starts growing in popularity. It is quite a hassle to move these kinds of websites as they are so complex by their nature. When it comes to free hosting, you have to get a little nitty gritty and think technically. Is the website script you are running, or are the websites you are planning to run (if multiple) going to start growing to the point the limitations of a free host start interfering? And how easy it to transfer these sites away?
If you are thinking that your sites may grow, and they probably will be painful to move, then you definitely do NOT want to use a free web host. Simply because you will have to move. If your script or website is quite simple, then sure, use a free web host for a few months until your site begins to grow, then move later – that’s if its simple to do so or you have the skills to execute the move with relative ease.
My “safe list” of the kinds of sites you can run on free hosting:
General blogs with pictures etc. Short movies only.
Help desk software.
Small shopping cart sites with few products.
One page “sales letters” type of sites
Any kind of website with less than 30 pages that don’t require extreme amounts of advanced configuration that also require little resources to run.
What you absolutely cannot run on free hosts:
File hosting websites (including image hosting)
Any kind of resource-intensive scripts like proxy websites
And obviously you want to avoid adult content depending on the host’s owners.
If what you are doing is not resource intensive (say a basic website with pictures, and an “about us/contact us” page etc with your telephone number, you should be perfectly fine on a free host. Its just once your website grows you will get into growing pains and will have to move. If you were after free hosting, you can check out this excellent free web host [http://www.instantfreehosting.com] (they don’t put advertisements on your website either).