Getting something for free is always pleasant, but it is not usually good when it comes to hosting a website. While the thought of receiving a free web hosting service may sound enticing, it will probably come back to haunt you later. Find out the guest post by Zach Hughey, unveiling top 10 reasons to avoid free web hosting.
1. Poor Customer Service
Customer service is paramount for web hosting. If your site goes offline, you'll want to contact the host for assistance. Unfortunately, free web hosts have poor customer service in the most cases. You may be able to send them an email, but it could take several days before you get an actual response. In the meantime, your site will remain offline. Paid web hosts, on the other hand, offer multiple methods of contact, including email, phone, online chat, forum channel, a "ticket system" and social media.
2. Forced Ads
A common denominator you'll find with free hosting is the presence of ads. Even if the web hosting service is free, you may be forced to display ads on behalf of the hosting company. To make matters worse, you don't earn revenue from displaying the ads. Instead, the hosting company generates revenue. Ads are typically site-wide and appear at the top, bottom or sidebar of every page. Normally, you can only remove these ads by upgrading to a paid hosting account.
3. Slow Speeds
Free web hosts generally offer slower download and upload speeds than paid web hosts. This is important because already in 2010 Google announced speed as a ranking signal, meaning fast-loading websites are more likely to rank higher in Google's search results. If you use a free web host, you can expect longer load times and subsequently lower search rankings.
Furthermore, KISSmetrics explains that 40 percent of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. So, a free hosting service will not only hurt your site's rankings, it can also discourage users from actually visiting your site.
4. Security Vulnerabilities
According to a study cited by Search Engine Land, the number of hacked websites grew by 32 percent from 2015 to 2016. As a webmaster, it's your responsibility to safeguard your site from cyber-attacks and intrusion. While there's no substitution for using a strong password and keeping your files up to date, a reputable web host can also help.
Free web hosts generally offer little-to-no protection from cyber-attacks. In fact, they often contain security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access hosted websites. The good news is that there are plenty of renowned web hosting providers that offer safe and secure hosting services. However, you’ll have to pay for this significant benefit
5. Limited Storage Space
Of course, free web hosts also have limited storage space. Some free hosts, for instance, offer just 1 GB of storage. To put that number into perspective, a two-minute high-definition video can take up more than 1 GB. Even if you don't plan uploading videos, the used photos, text and files can easily consume more than 1 GB after which you'll have to pay for additional storage.
6. More Downtimes
With web hosting, the adage "you get what you pay for" holds true. While reputable, paid web hosts generally offer a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, free hosts do not. Their servers frequently go offline for maintenance, due to hardware failure or simple neglect. And as previously mentioned, you'll have a hard time reaching customer support for help.
7. Limited Features
Storage space isn't the only thing that's limited with free web hosts. You'll also find their services have limited features. Reputable web hosts typically have a back-end control panel like cPanel or platform as a service that's loaded with features. Common features included in premium web hosting services include one-click installation of common scripts, email setup, database management, traffic analyzer and subdomain setup. Normally, though, these features aren't offered by free web hosts. You'll get a bare-bones hosting service that's difficult and cumbersome to use.
8. No Automatic Backups
Nearly every reputable web host offers automatic backups. Like clockwork, they'll create a backup of your core HTML files as well as any associated databases; thus, offering a higher level of protection from disaster. If something happens to your site -- an editor accidentally deleted an important file, it was compromised in a cyber-attack, etc. -- you can rest assured knowing that the web host created a backup copy. Free web hosts, however, don't offer automatic backups. You can still create backups manually, but don't expect them to do it for you. This is something that you'll have to worry about.
9. Transferring Is Difficult
What happens when you're ready to move your website to a new host? Well, you may encounter some problems if your site is currently running with a free host. Free hosting services typically have restrictions on server accessibility. So, when you try to transfer your site, you may not be able to access all of the files. Additionally, some free hosts specifically design their service to make it difficult for customers to migrate, essentially trapping and preventing them from leaving.
10. Your Site May Disappear at Any Time
Perhaps the most concerning issue with free hosting is the possibility that your site may disappear at any time. Free hosting services are typically offered by fly-by-night companies that are here one day and gone the next. Since they don't have the revenue or resources of premium hosting companies, free hosts are often forced to close their doors while giving customers little-to-no notice. And if the company hosting your website goes down, it will probably take your site with it.
As you can see, free hosting has some serious downsides like poor customer service, forced ads, slow speeds, security vulnerabilities, limited storage and features and more. In the end, you have to ask yourself if the negligible savings of free hosting is really worth the risk. If you're serious about building a successful website, the answer is probably no.
About the Author
Zach Hughey is an Online Marketing Specialist who aims to help companies implement better marketing strategies. Zach wants to build a web hosting service company someday and that is the reason why he is a Content Editor for TopWebHost.net. He creates, analyzes and measures programs to attract and delight new customers.