When it comes to web hosting, you have two options. You could choose to host your site with free hosting providers such as freehosting.com, freehostia.com, host-ed.net, wordpress.org or zymic.com. Alternatively, you could use paid hosts like hostgator.com, bluehost.com or fatcow.com. Here are some things to consider when choosing between free and paid web hosting:
1. Domain flexibility
If you opt for free web hosting, you website’s domain name will look something like this:
In this case, wordpress.org is the free web host. Such a domain name is not only difficult to remember, but also appears very unprofessional. It would therefore be advisable to go for a paid hosting company which allows you to have a personalised domain name such as http://bitsandends.com.
2. Customised email addresses
Most paid web hosts allow you to open multiple email accounts with your domain extension. For instance, you can have email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This makes your business appear professional and credible. Free web hosts don’t offer this feature.
Once in a while, every website owner encounters problems such as unexpected downtime and attacks from hackers. Therefore, availability of technical support from your hosting provider is very important. Paid web hosting companies usually have support staff that can be contacted via email, live chat or telephone. However, this kind of support is not guaranteed when it comes to free web hosting.
4. Data backup
When using paid web hosting services, your data is usually backed up on a daily or weekly basis. Therefore, if and when disaster strikes, you can be assured of recovering your important information. However, when it comes to free web hosts, backup is not guaranteed.
When you use a free web host, you will have adverts of the hosting company popping up all over your site. Such adverts will only end up cluttering your site and distracting your visitors. Furthermore, the messages on the adverts might be totally unrelated to the content of your site. However, using a paid web hosting service allows you to have control over what appears on your site. You can even make money selling advertising space.
6. Space and bandwidth
Free hosting offers very little in terms of disk space and bandwidth. This means that you can only have a limited amount of content on your site. In addition, when your site experiences heavy traffic, it is likely to slow down. Paid web hosting offers more storage space and higher bandwidth, thus allowing you to upload large files without slowing down your site. If you run out of storage space, you can easily upgrade to a higher hosting plan.
The best thing about free web hosting is that you don’t have to spend any money. However, using such a host does not offer you many options in terms of choosing a domain name, features, support and general control of your site. It would therefore be advisable to invest in a paid web hosting service so that you develop a more professional online presence. You could begin with a basic, affordable package which can be upgraded later as your site expands. If you are still a newbie, or need more information on webhosting, our friends over at first SIte Guide have produced this great guide to web hosting.