Why Free Site Hosting Is A Waste Of Time And Money

by on December 11, 2009

free-web-hostingWe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. Free, if you buy a domain – The hosting is free if you pay $30 for a domain name from them that normally costs $10.
  5. 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.
  6. Slow As Heck – Free hosts have little incentive to upgrade their hardware and make your site load quickly.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. 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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie December 19, 2009 at 6:34 am

You are right! The funny thing is I had MORE trouble on a paid site than on a free site.

I had a free site and it is still up to this day. I hated the banners and pop up ads however but that was my only issue. Then a friend started a hosting company and said he can give me a site for free. He would pay as it made him look good to have clients. I said yes. After a year I wanted to keep it going so he changed me $10 a month. I was fine with that. Any time I had a problem I went to him.

I was on his subdomain. He had his own domain but as him being the host he put me on his subdomain. But he was able to move me to my own domain when I said I wanted more control. NO Problem! It was great! But now I was on my own. Still find. I liked doing things my way. Through doing it on my own I found out that my domain name was through godaddy and that my hosting was with urldownload

But there was a problem with urldownload. They kept going down the winter of 2008 and were down more times than up. urld blamed me but it wasn’t on my end. It was on their end. They kept going down, getting DDos attacked, etc. Then my database got corrupted by them because when they back up the database, they only keep one copy and overwrite it automatically on every back up. So when things were going wrong with their servers, there went my content!

I would have lost EVERYTHING if I had not started to be smart (I was learning as I went along) and backed up my database of my forum at least on my own. The site was recoverable but not my member base or posts. But because I had a back up I gave it to the guy at urld after he finally admit it was on urldownload’s end and I only lost 2 months worth of data.

Now back to the guy who originally put me on his subdomain… That guy was still paying for my domain name even though I was now paying for my own host. I wanted to pay for my domain name and have total control but he just disappeared one day. No where to be found. Cell phone number changed. Email bouncing. No idea. Then my domain name expired. Got ahold of him, he said he was sorry and said he would switch it to my name. Turns out since it was expired it needed to be paid for before transfer. He didn’t talk to me about this but instead paid for a year. But the problem was, he didn’t have enough in his paypal so it bounced. But this was not discovered until after he transferred the domain name account to me and closed off his account. I called up godaddy and they said all they needed was his code and they would transfer it over to me since I knew his name and everything. But he never gave it to me as I couldn’t get ahold of him again so I ended up having to buy a whole new domain again and NO WAY to tell my members what the new address was!

My FREE site with all the pop ups and banners is still up to this day……

El Plumber (admin) December 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Angie, that’s a good story. I should make another article about the dangers of small hosting companies. That’s why I recommend only going with one of the big providers above. Anyone can hook an old PC up in their garage, throw up a web server and some software and sell hosting. Or they can “resell” hosting from another account with a large company but if they ever stop paying their bill, you get screwed.

Stick with your own account at Hostgator (it’s only $4.99 a month for their starter hosting). I’ve never had any issues at all, and the few times I needed support to do something odd they were very helpful.

Antony December 24, 2009 at 8:18 am

Here is my holiday tip to everyone:

I have many sites hosted among an array of services.

My “important” sites are on a virtual server.

I got sucked into the Godaddy machine a while back and pay for a lot of extras that I should be cancelling right now instead of sitting here writing this ;)

I’ve got some free sites out there too.

and since 2003, I’ve had sites off and on at http://www.doteasy.com

Just took a look and I’ve got 5 sites there now. I’m comfortable with what I have hosted there and am confident they are not going away anytime soon.

They are based in Canada and not a bad deal. Their normal price for basic hosting AND domanin registration is $25.00 USD a year. Around every holiday season, they offer a sale. For this Christmas season they are offering the first year for $5.95 USD.

You get your own domain, myownsitenamewhatever.com – website templates, blogs, photo galleries, ftp access, bunch of email accounts, 100MB storage, FREE private registration, decent support, tutorials and pretty much everything a novice or affiliate would need for that fee. Anyone I’ve ever sent there has been happy with them.

Just be careful when you go over there not to go for any of the upsells unless you actually want them. You want what they call the $0 Dollar BASIC Hosting Package.

Your checkout (until 12/31/09 anyway) should be $5.95 USD. A year from now when you renew the package, it will be $25.00 USD of course — no getting around that.

They’ve been decent for me so I feel they deserve a shout.

Happy Holidays!


Antony December 24, 2009 at 8:25 am

BTW, Be sure to use that COUPON CODE beneath the red and green banner in the rotation at doteasy.com to get the discount mentioned above!!


Chris March 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I think there’s one situation where free hosting *does* make sense: when you’re trying to decide whether or not the online writing business is for you. As the Plumber himself points out at http://electronplumber.com/why-its-hard-to-make-decent-money-online, most people can’t do it, because there’s too much competition that can read and write English in sweatshop countries.

Eight months ago, I started my blog Life User (http://life-user.blogspot.com). I made almost $10 from AdSense in the first month, and for about three months I managed to come up with an article per week. I met lots of people and gave them my business card, and many of them promised to check out my blog. True, I couldn’t stick to just one theme yet, but I thought I could graduate to that once I had some experience. Plus, I was enjoying the experience of learning to work with Blogger’s layout engine.

But after a few months, the optimism wore off. I ran out of topics to write about, nobody except my mom was visiting regularly, I had very few comments and no trackbacks, and the AdSense income was drying up to less than $0.20 per month. Worse, school was starting to keep me away from the blog.

The only reason I still run the blog at all is that I get an occasional sponsored post on PayPerPost. If I’d gone with a paid host, my failed venture would now be that much more student debt. I’m glad I chose Blogger: I still got to run my own ads, and *only* my own ads, and all I wasted was time.

David April 28, 2011 at 6:47 am

In response to: If anyone finds a free host that they think doesn’t suck, please let us know and we’ll take a look.

How about Weebly? I’ve been using them for a few months now. So far I have no serious complaints. I am able to do about as much customization as I want using the advanced interface. No ads required…they do however take a 50% cut of any Adsense revenues you make if you opt to put Adsense on your site. The money goes towards supporting Weebly and their free hosting. I can’t say that this bothers me as I feel Weebly deserves the support for the service they provide. Additionally, I’m not very concerned with Adsense revenues at the moment as I’m primarily focused on earning money through the Amazon Associates program. The only problem that I’ve had with Weebly so far is that once you add a substantial number of elements (paragraph, image, two-column divider – these are the building blocks of a Weebly website) to your page the web designer interface slows to a crawl as you have to wait for the page to reload after every change you make. However, I have found a simple workaround for this: I simply place a single html element in the page and copy/paste the html from my html editor (I’m currently giving the free Komodo Edit 6 a try). Using this single element method allows everything to run quickly, plus I get the benefit of being able to customize the look of my website precisely the way I want it by writing my own html. CSS can also be customized from the advanced editor. Something is left to be desired when it comes to file management…there really isn’t any to speak of. There is a place to upload files from the advanced editor, however it doesn’t say anywhere on the site how to reference those files in your html. I did finally figured out how to do it. For anyone that may be interested you can reference your files as such: files/theme/myimage.jpg. I’m a total newb when it comes to html, but I’m finding it to be surprisingly simple to acheive the results I’m looking for from what what I’ve learned from w3schools.com. Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing anything you might have to say about it.


P.S. Just stumbled across your site tonight and am happy to have found it. I’ve been steadily working my way through all of your articles. As someone who is relatively new to the Amazon Associates program and to affiliate marketing in general I’ve found everything here very interesting…and sometimes quite amusing!

-”See what I did there? You either clicked on them or thought about clicking on those links didn’t you? “-

You were right. I thought about clicking them…and then I clicked them. (blushing) :)

El Plumber (admin) April 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

David, there are some great places on the web where you can post your content for free, including Weebly, Wordpress.com, Blogger, etc. You can ever host your own domain there.

BUT, no matter how great they are, you don’t really own your site! Even if you host your own domain at Weebly, you will always be beholden to their interface, their themes, their tools, their content restrictions, and their advertising rules and splitting. When your site is making $5 a month it seems like a good deal, but what about when it’s making $1000 a month in Adsense? Do you really want to pay $500 a month for hosting to Weebly? And how are you going to move it to another host at that point? Weekly isn’t portable. At least Wordpress is easy to move to another host.

You are going for Amazon, but what happens when Weebly decides to also snag 50% of you Amazon profits too? Or if Amazon decides to block affiliates in your state and you want to switch to Adsense?

Pay the $10 a month, get a decent host, install Wordpress, control your own destiny.

David April 29, 2011 at 1:30 am

To: El Plumber (admin)

You make some valid points here. When I originally decided that I was going to give affiliate marketing a try I wanted to keep my costs as low as possible as I wasn’t sure if my efforts were going to pay off. Weebly seemed like a great option at the time. It’s been about four months since then. I now have my site ranked on the first page of Google for my targeted keyword and the traffic to my site has increased so much that I actually made over $100 this month with Amazon. That may not sound like a lot of money to most people, but as I’ve only been at this for a relatively short period of time I’m pretty stoked. If the SERP traffic statistics that I’ve heard about are correct (and so far I can verify that they are) then when I finally reach the #1 spot on Google I should be receiving about 8X the traffic I’m receiving now. It only makes sense to assume that I’ll probably make 8X more sales on Amazon as well. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think this affiliate marketing thing works and it’ll more than pay for the $10 per month hosting. As I no longer am really even using the WYSIWYG tools that Weebly provides and am in fact taking some pains to circumvent them due to the slow load times, I guess it doesn’t really even make sense for me to be using Weebly anymore anyway, especially if I’m really only saving myself $10 per month. That’s not much at all. I expect to be moving over to HostGator soon. Thanks so much for your insight.


One other thing: I’m not so sure about Wordpress. I gave it a try at once. I found it difficult to get my site to look the way I wanted it. I felt like a slave to whatever theme was enable. Most people seem to think the world of it, I guess I’m just not one of them. I’m also not a blogger. I just want to build static websites. Do you have any suggestions as to what else I might want to try. Dreamweaver is too expensive and I think would be overkill for the kind of sites I’m trying to build. I was thinking maybe Microsoft’s Expression Studio 4 Web Professional? Once again, Iâ��d be interested in hearing anything you might have to say. Thanks.

David April 29, 2011 at 5:18 am

Since I posted my last comment I’ve been scouring the web in search of an alternative to Dreamweaver, Expression Web, Komodo IDE and Wordpress. I came across XSitePro. Looks absolutely awesome. Appears to be the perfect solution for an affiliate marketer that wants to get great looking sites up and running quickly. I think I’d buy it right now, but I’m gonna wait until I hear what you may have to say about it. Thanks in advance.


El Plumber (admin) April 29, 2011 at 9:58 am

David, I’d strongly encourage you to take another look at Wordpress. It’s the industry standard for a reason.

With all those others you mentioned, you will have to reinvent the wheel every time you want a new feature or design. With Wordpress, there are literally tens of thousands of people developing themes, plugins, and addons on a daily basis. The vast majority of themes and plugins are free as well. There are themes that look like blogs, there are themes that look like corporate sites, etc. Think of it as a content management system. It’s super easy to hire someone to make you a new plugin or theme, which you can then turn around and sell or market if you want.

You will save lots of time and money and frustration in the long term by using Wordpress.

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