Free hosting vs Paid hosting

FREE VS PAID

This article is meant to help you decide between free hosting vs. paid hosting services. Is getting a free hosting service counterproductive? What kind of hosting should I get? If I go for a free hosting provider, what are the features that I will get? What are the best free hosting providers out there?

We will talk about both options and the implications of going one way or the other, so you can have all the information and options to decide for yourself.

FREE HOSTING SERVICES

When I was first presented with the decision of having to either pay for my hosting services or get shelter under the roof of a free hosting company, I was hesitant. I thought that free hosting meant poor and unreliable service, very few features and I suspected that they wouldn’t meet my needs.

This is not entirely true. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to give a try to some hosting providers that turned out to be quite good for testing purposes, they offered a wide range of possibilities and they were full featured, so I was happy to try and mess around with a hosting service that granted pretty much all the features that I needed at the time. But that was when I was starting off as a webmaster, I didn’t need any support or especial features.

In truth, free hosting services are great when you don’t want to get serious about your projects online. This isn’t something bad, if you have a hobby, your dad asks you for a website or you are just short on money, you can go for it. You will find most of the features that you need in order to set up a website or blog, including:

  • FTP account and File Manager
  • Control Panel and Automatic Script Installer
  • MySQL databases & PHP Support
  • Free tech support
  • Clustered Servers
  • No ads!

This much for free? I had to check it out for myself!!! It is mostly true, so you can pretty much mess around with a free hosting with most of the features that you would get with a paid one.

Some people assert that when using free hosting services you are forced to display ads for the hosting company, but that’s not always true. You can get an ad-free website without having to pay a penny.

I have used the services http://byethost.com/, they provide all the features listed above and it works well. You can give it a try for free if you want, I am in no way affiliated with these people, I have tried their services and I had a good  experience, so this is the best I know and the best recommendation I can give.

PAID HOSTING SERVICES

Having a paid hosting provider is going pro, that’s the simplest way to put it. A free hosting service is nice when you’re starting out, or if you are setting up websites for friends or relatives. But if you are any serious about your project and you want the best service available, paying for the hosting is a must, it guarantees that you get what you need.

In the following lines, I will review what paid hosting services offer and you can’t get when hosted for free.

Fully custom domain names

When you get your hosting space for free, you are also forced to get certain sufix for your domain. For example, with byethost.com your website would have this format:

  • mywebsite.2kool4u.net
  • mywebsite.isgreat.org
  • mywebsite.22web.net
  • mywebsite.10001mb.com
  • mywebsite.iblogger.org
  • mywebsite.talk4fun.net
  • mywebsite.totalh.com

In here, the only customizable part of your domain name is “mywebsite”, the rest must be left like that. It doesn’t look professional, it doesn’t help when pîcking the right domain name for your site, and it is hard to remember, so people won’t type it in their internet browsers with much ease.

Guarantees

If you happen to hit gold and your project turns out to be watched by a thousands of people each month, you will be in need of certain guarantees. So, in order to start from a good stable point, you should consider this as well.

For example, imagine that you set up a website from scratch in a free hosting provider. You put in all the work, and after many hours of work, you leave it impeccable. Everything is set up, and people start coming over, some dozens in the beginning, but some months after starting off, some hundreds are attracted. Then you have to think about managing the traffic, and everything goes smoothly up until now but… for how long will my server fully support this increasing rate of people coming over your site? Then you hit some thousands each month, and your server shows problems managing the traffic.

Then you face the need of having to upgrade your hosting plan, and guess what? You need to move or pay for a more reliable hosting that allows you to handle that much people coming in. And quite honestly, if even paid hosting providers often fail to meet the requirements for certain sort of sites, I don’t think that many free hosting providers can do a better job. Although, if you know some free provider that does, please leave a comment and we will check if it’s true (you little liar!!) 😉

Extra features

Dedicated IP, SSL, free templates, certain reductions with some third party service, compatibility with other software… you might not need any of those, but if you’re with a basic hosting plan and you decide to set up an e-commerce cart, you might find out that dedicated IP would come in handy, or those 100 bucks that hostgator.com offers as an incentive to use Google’s adwords can provide some extra traffic to your sites.

For example, if you want to use an e-commerce software like Magento, it’s probable that you won’t be matching the requirements with a free hosting provider. Magento is resourceful but it’s heavy as two cuddling cows on a surf table, it requires quite a lot of libraries and compatibilities (mcrypt, mhash, simplexml, DOM, curl…). In this case, don’t even bother with free services.

Paid hosting services need to detach themselves from the features offered by free hosting, so often you’ll get a wider range of possibilities, options, features and more. Of course, you might find that the whole pack is something you just don’t need. 😉

Pricing

If you decide to go with one of our best recommendations when it comes to paid hosting services, hostgator.com, you can start as low as 3 bucks/month, that’s cheap web hosting. If you choose the plan above this one, you would be paying 6 dollars per month and you can host as many sites as you want, and it will allow quite high traffic rates as well.

Bottom line: Saving 10 dollars a month is worth the risk? You spend more when ordering pizza, that’s the greatest thing of it all, since it’s a very competitive field, pricing goes as low as it gets. Besides, you can count on reductions and special pricing if you want to dissolve your doubts…

Question is, why not going pro for this low?

Any doubts? Questions? Additions to what has been said? Post them below and I will take a look and perhaps even answer them (wink!!)

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