Free web hosting: Why it is a bad idea
You have often heard of the cliche nothing in life is for free. This is all so very true for web hosting! It is never free, even if you have been told that it is by whoever it is who claims to provide the service. But why do I say this?
The word free is very significant in today's economy especially if it is a service you are being offered and no financial input is required from you. It is the biggest discount-shoppers magnate I know. However, with web hosting, it is the single most expensive mistake you can ever make!
I am not just going to justify this statement using a single reason. I am going to give you plenty of reasons:
You stand to lose everything
Free web hosts are not in any way obligated to deliver the services to you! If today the free web hosting company decided to shut down, they will be under no obligation to give you notice. And when they do, they shut down together with your entire business or heavily invested content. Imagine the sleepless nights you will have to put up with wondering if today is the day your host will decide to shut down. In the best case scenario, the free service can be terminated and you will be forced to pay for subsequent months of being hosted.
You will also be provided with extremely limited support or none at all. Website downtime can be so much that you end up losing several days of exposure every year.
Limited storage space
As I mentioned earlier, when you buy web hosting services, you are buying a portion of the real estate area in the internet world. Now, imagine being given this space at complementary basis with no terms to go with it and no paperwork. In this kind of permitted squatting scenario, you will be restricted in the amount of space you can move in.
This restriction applies to the hard disc space, data transfer and bandwidth. You will only do so much with your hosting service meaning you will not be able to work with interactive features like videos, chat rooms, games and other features that consume a lot of bandwidth.
Similarly, you might occasionally get some sites offering huge bandwidth and web space amounts for its free membership. It can be, say 100GB bandwidth and over 10GB+ of web space. This attracts a lot of members which makes it easier for them to sell their business a little while later. It is worth noting that at times small hosting companies which use this as their take off strategy usually crash and burn due to the inexperience of the webmasters.
Search engines rank them dismally
It is almost impossible to generate traffic for your site if you do not have exposure through search engines! Even the most popular websites gain most of their traffic from the search engines. As a blogger or online business owner, if your exposure to these machines is dismal, then you might as well be running around in circles in the dark.
This is what free hosting does to your online strategy. It works against it from the mere fact that search engines do not fully trust the domain you will be using under the free hosting platform.
Cumbersome domain name
Short domain names are easy to remember compared with long ones. Imagine having a domain name like mysite.freedomain.com. Such a domain is very problematic to remember for potential visitors who might never remember your URL in case they wanted to make repeat visits.
Paid hosting on the other hand will give you a free hand to make your domain name as simple as possible. It will also come with added features like free domain names, free subdomains, unlimited email accounts, GI-Bin, MySQL databases etc.
The host of your free domain name will have a free hand to market his own products without consulting you. So what happens is that your visitors will be constantly bombarded by popup windows advertising things they do not require. Your website becomes intrusive to their privacy and they end up leaving all together. Ultimately, your website's credibility is heavily depleted!
I should however emphasize that your reason for starting a website should be the guiding principle in determining which hosting (free or paid) you should use. If the purpose is to share pictures and few posts every once in a while, with friends, then you should probably go with free hosting.