Web hosting is pretty expensive. Most web hosting plans will cost around a hundred dollars per year, which can stretch the budgets of some people who want to keep there monthly expenses at a nice even $0. So it’s no wonder that free web hosts are picking up steam, and there is no shortage of options if you want one of the said free web hosts, but how about quality? Is free hosting an amazing deal, or do you get what you pay for?
Should You Use Free Hosting?
A reasonable question. Is free web hosting a bargain? How about performance? We’ll get to all of that later, since it really depends from host to host, but there are quite a few risks that come along with free hosting, as there is with pretty much each and every thing.
That’s the main thing going for free hosting. It’s free. As mentioned earlier, payed web hosting can be expensive at times. The web host we’re currently using, Warpgate, costs only $30.00 per year, a very reasonable price if you ask me. However, if you’re running tight on money, free hosting may seem like a good option, and it is, if you pick the right one and are ready to face potential consequences. While you will be hosting a website for free, be prepared to be required to upgrade if you reach enough traffic. If you want to keep costs at an absolute zero, you can also grab yourself a free domain. Read the full review on free domains.
It Can End at Any Time
That’s right. Free hosting compagnies aren’t exactly the most stable ones in the world, since web hosting costs a lot of money in hardware, electricity and maintenace. Most payed hosts are stable, like Bluehost and Hostgator, which are owned by the massive
Endurance International Group Newfold Digital. And if your free hosting provider goes down, you’re files are going down with it.
Most free hosting providers also sell some premium hosting, and to make sure that free users are most likely to upgrade, they place the limits on the free plan pretty low. Limited storage space and bandwith usually stick a pretty low roof on how much your blog or website can grow, and then you’ll end up having to either migrate to another host or upgrade to a premium plan in order to continue.
Nothing comes free, and as we’ve said, web hosting is a rather expensive product to offer, what with electrictity, hardware an maintenance. And, to make up for these costs, certain free hosts may force you to display advertisements on your site. These may be third-party ads, or ads for the free host, encouraging visitors to go check it out.
Most payed web hosts have an uptime guarantee and quick response times, in fact, serious web hosts willgive you account credits if your uptime falls below there guarantee. Compare that to free hosting. They don’t have the motivation to keep your (free) website’s performance to the max, since they aren’t getting payed, and even if they did, recources would be limited and having too many users could harm uptime.
Employees are expensive. You need to pay there salaries, provide an office and equipement and so on. And since you aren’t paying for free hosting, they probably don’t have a good support team. While payed hosts usually have support through instant mediums, like live chat and phone, as well as support tickets and email. With free hosts, you’ll normally have a support forum, and if they’re feeling generous, help through email or support tickets.
Alright, enough criticism, it’s time to move on to the list of free hosts we recommend. There’s no shortage of free hosts, but most are all but abandoned. This is a list of those which are still active, functioning and actually aren’t too bad.
x10Hosting is a smaller player in the free web hosting industry, but a good one indeed. It’s probably the only free web host that has an affiliate program, and pays you up to a dollar per free sign up. It offers cloud SSD servers, which puts it up above the traditional free hosting features.
Due to updates to the control panel, x10Hosting seems to have closed new account signups, and it’s been closed for a while. However, I’m feeling optimistic about the opening, since moderators on this thread seem to have almost finished up. I’ll be sure to update this article when and if new signups open.
The dashboard is unkown. Acording to the thread, they are working on updating the dashboard from cPanel to DirectAdmin, which is why all new account registrations are closed.
Unlike most other free web hosts, x10Hosting also gives you unlimited bandwith and storage space. I’ve unfortunately been unable to open an account with x10Hosting, but hopefully we’ll be able to do so and give it a much deeper review and cover the actual performance.
As for support, x10Hosting is pretty small. They have a support forum which seems to get there problems solved pretty quickly. If you’re really having trouble and the support forum just isn’t cutting it, you can also get in touch with them via email. If you decide x10Hosting isn’t enough, you can upgrade to there payed hosting option, x10Premium.
Another great, and small, free hosting option, HelioHost offers a slightly limited 1000MB of disk space and unlimited bandwith, which will severly limit you if you want to create a blog full of high-quality pictures. You’ll see ads on the control panel, the latest cPanel version, but not on your actual website.
Now the signup process is, well, unique as one may say, or an absolute pain as others may put it. Essentially, HelioHost has a few different servers, and each one is configured for a different purpose, PHP, maximum uptime, MySQL, whatever. Now, you tell them what you want, they tell you the best server for your selected options and all is good!
But not so fast, in turns out that servers have a limited amount of possible signups allowed, and you’ll have to wait for a spot to be avilable before you’re allowed to join. And you may end up having to wait a while. The server we tried to sign up for wouldn’t be open to us for another 7 hours. Of course, if you make a donation, the server is no longer full, and you’ll be allowed in.
A slightly more popular free hosting option, AwardSpace is used by over 2.5 million people. They provide stable uptime and loading speeds, and 1 gigabyte of storage and 5 gigabytes of bandwith, and some very nice and affordable premium hosting plans as well.
They’re based in Germany, and while they don’t run as fast as hostinger as seen above on GTMetrix (with WordPress installed). It got a C, scoring 3.1 second loading speeds and so far 100% uptime, which is hardly anything to celebrate about, considering that you’re paying roughly nothing for your hosting, it’s acceptable.
AwardSpace, which employs the Zacky App Installer, allows free users to choose between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, the three most popualar CMSs. AwardSpace places quite a few limits. A single domain, a single email address, who’s Roundcube interface takes an eternity to load, a single MySQL database, and so on and so forth.
However, AwardSpace does have one redeeming feature, support. Support is pretty hard to come across in the free hosting environement, and I really do appreciate being able to open a support ticket. The team got back to me in just over an hour, each time I made a request. However, don’t expect 24/7 help, the team takes a break for a few hours each day. But, support is support, and AwardSpace is the only one who has it.
A free hosting provider created by the folks at Hostinger, 000WebHost is a good choice who want free hosting from a reputable company. You’ll find yourself severely limited, with only 300MB of storage 3GB of bandwith, which according to them, should be enough for roughly 3000 monthly visits.
Using 000WebHost, you can choose to either use there website builder, install WordPress or upload your own files to the server. You’ll get a nice dashboard, compared to the newest cPanel, which I personal really dislike.
We chose to install WordPress, which took a decent moment, especially compared to hosts like Warpgate which takes under half a minute to install and setup WordPress. Once WordPress was set up, we tried to optimise the website for speed, using the Twenty Twenty-One theme, uninstalling all themes and plugins, writing only one post and so on. At the end, we measured the speed on our website, and as far as free hosting goes, the speed
That’s very impressive for a free hosting provider, putting the final loading speed is 1.6 seconds, which is just around average, even in the payed hosting industry. While you could do better with really expensive managed WordPress hosting, if you choose a regular payed shared web hosting option, it’ll be about the best you can get. You’ll get to host just 1 domain per account, which is pretty typical for free web hosting options.
One of the main downsides of using 000WebHost is the banner which appears fixed in the bottom right of each website. Funnily enough, the banner also appears on the WordPress dashboard as well.
Another great free hosting option, InfinityFree offers you cPanel hosting, although it’ll also have ads on your control panel experience, but again, it won’t show any ads on your visitor’s experience. You can host up to 3 domains, instead of just 1, like most other options.
InfinityFree let’s you either host your own custom domain, or pick one of there subdomains. We once again went to go install WordPress through the Softaculous App Installer, but found our way to be blocked by a message, itself partially blocked by the sidebar, informing us that something had went wrong and we ought to try again in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later, and we still weren’t allowed to install WordPress. A few hours later, however, we were quite fortunately allowed to proceed to the Softaculous script installer and install whatever script we felt like.
The array of choices is quite wide, from popular ones like WordPress and Joomla to less well-known ones like Open Real Estate, a CMS espcially for real estate owners. While Open Real Estate was tempting, we opted for WordPress, and the installation was done pretty quickly.
We installed ourselves WordPress, and after waiting just a few seconds, the installation was complete, and we were let in. Again, we got to work emptying out our WordPress account so that there was no other themes and no other plugins. Than, we ran it through GTMetrix.
I was very impressed, with or WordPress website scoring an A, with a 1.2 second loading speed. Again, pretty impressive for a free web host.
I’d estimate that a single pageview would take between 5 and 15 hits, depending on content. So, this would mean that you’d be limited to roughly 5 000-10 000 daily pageviews, which is still a lot. If for whatever reason, there’s a spike in traffic exceeding those limits, well, say goodbye to that spike in traffic, you’re site will be taken down for the next 24 hours.
A hosted solution exclusively for the massivly popular WordPress CMS, WordPress.com makes the process of using WordPress easier, and you can use it for free to. It’s fast, stable, robust and easy to use, with amazing uptime and efficient loading speeds.
However, free users will find themselves to be severely limited. You get a free SSL certficate, a nice bonus, but that’s where it ends. First off, forget about having a custom domain. Unless you upgrade your plan, you’re stuck blogging on a
.wordpress.com domain, which needless to say, doesn’t inspire trust. You’ll also end up with WordPress.com branding on your site, and third-party ads too. If you want to remove these, guess what, you’ll have to pay. And if you want to monetize your site, well, no Adsense for you. And you’ll have to pay. But, if you do pay, you may get accepted into the WordAds network, which from what I’ve heard is pretty good, but pretty exclusive too, not like Adsense, which welcomes publishers big and small.
In my humble opinion, WordPress.com was never meant to be used as a free web host, and if that’s what your looking for, you’re in the wrong place. WordPress.com was meant to provide a hosted WordPress experience, and make said experience better.
So, summing up. We’ve seen quite a few different free hosting options, and while the fact the you can get some decent hosting from some of them, I’d still strongly recommend going for a payed hosting options, which are much more stable and reliable. If you want to keep costs as cheap as possible, I’d recommend trying out Warpgate for only $30.00 per year and one month free.