We get asked a question all the time when helping friends and family learn to make money online by setting up websites and writing content. That question is, “I see all these free webhosting places advertised everywhere. Can I just do that?”
The answer is of course not. There is not a free host on the planet that is worth the time you would put into it. And you will end up spending far more cash in the long run. It constantly amazes me at just how cheap people are when attempting to start an online business. Unlike a real brick and mortar business, you can start a real website with a real domain for around $10, then pay around $5 a month to keep it going. If you are that strapped for cash, do whatever it takes to scrounge $15 dollars together to pay for the first couple of months of real hosting, after which it will not matter. Even the lamest site ever can make $5 a month with minimal effort. That’s basically a couple of paid posts, or one Text Link Ad, or a bunch of random clicks on Adwords, or any combination thereof. Seriously, you can do it.
Still not convinced? Still thinking about using free web hosting? Here is the world of headaches you will be opening yourself up to by trying to save a measly $5 today:
- They’re Not Free – Most of the “free” sites will nickle and dime you constantly for things you need. When you go to sign up for that advertising program and they require you to have an email address @ your website, time to shell out $15 for an email address. Real hosts give you anywhere from 10 to 100 email addresses with a $5 hosting account. Want more than 100mb of storage or 100mb of bandwidth, another $15 per month. Want customer support? How about something non-standard installed? Good luck.
- Free, as long as they can show their Ads – Most Free sites put up their ads on your site. That’s what makes it “free” for you. And the ads they serve are the typically spam “Punch The Monkey And Win!” type ads
- Free, on their domain – Most allow you a “subdomain” on one of their crappy domains, so your address would be “worldsbestwebsite.freecraphost.cc”. Good luck getting anything to rank well on Google or look respectabl.
- Free, if you buy a domain – The hosting is free if you pay $30 for a domain name from them that normally costs $10.
- Free, for 100Mb of storage and 100Mb of bandwidth – Typically just enough storage and bandwidth to tide you over until your site might actually gather some real traffic, then you have to upgrade to their overpriced “premium” hosting.
- Slow As Heck – Free hosts have little incentive to upgrade their hardware and make your site load quickly.
- Scammy – Many free sites we checked out tries to get you to do “offers” in exchange for the free hosting, including Google Biz Kit type scams and those mobile phone number monthly charge scams. Many people do not realize it is not part of the 20 step process in signing up for “free” hosting and enter their phone number or credit card number.
- No Control – Especially if you go with a subdomain host, you have little or no control to what happens to your content and pages. Basically the free host owns it and can do what it likes, including reposting it on their own sites, etc.
- Likely to Disappear – Many of the free hosts of a few years ago cannot be found anymore. What happened to the sites that people created with them? Who knows, they’re just gone now. Why chance it?
- Support? – Good luck getting support from a free host should you ever have a problem. Why would they bother when you are not a paying customer?
- You Don’t Own Your Site – Many of the free webhosts make you use a subdomain which cannot be transferred. Real domains with traffic can SELL for good money, subhosted free sites are owned by hosting company generally and are not yours. All that effort down the tubes.
If anyone finds a free host that they think doesn’t suck, please let us know and we’ll take a look. You may not think they suck now, but give it a few months when you run out of disk space or bandwidth or a year when your site traffic starts to spike and you cannot transfer to a better host without paying a fee or sell the domain to work on a new project.
When you want to put a site on the web, go with one of the big three web hosts. You will see hundreds of sites that claim to “review” the top 10 web hosts or whatnot. The problem is, they only review the top 10 web sites that pay them a commission.
Let the internet do the voting on who you use as a webhost. If you go to Alexa.com and look up the three most popular web hosting companies BY ACTUAL TRAFFIC RANKING. You want the Google, Yahoo, and Facebook of web hosting, not a bunch of bit players.
The top three web hosts by Alexa Rank are:
Godaddy (Alexa Rank 168)
Hostgator (Alexa Rank 438)
Bluehost (Alexa Rank 941).
Note that the Alexa rank listed there is out of ALL sites on the internet, so to be in the top 1000 is pretty dang good.
We use both Godaddy and Hostgator for all our domains and websites and have multiple accounts on both. Honestly I like Hostgator better for a number of reasons. It’s far more user friendly and doesn’t try to upsell you crap you do not need all the time like Godaddy does. I think Godaddy is as popular as they are based on their television advertising campaigns rather than value or customer service. It’s far easier to buy bulk domains at Godaddy, but the hosting is better at Hostgator.
I have never used Bluehost, and would not necessarily recommend them. They require you to pay fully for 12 months of hosting up front (at $7 a month that’s $84) vs Hostgator or Godaddy where you can pay monthly.
Note that both Hostgator and Godaddy are Accredited by the BBB and both receive an A+ rating. Bluehost is not BBB rated.
Seriously, the rankings should tell you something. After Hostgator, you have to drop another 500 sites to find Bluehost. After the top three, you have to go almost another 1000 sites down the list to find the 4th most popular Web Host. Those “See The Top 10 Web Hosts!” sites you see advertised everywhere are just working for commissions from the smaller hosting companies that are just not worth it. Don’t waste your time.