Is Free Web Hosting Any Good?
The best web hosting is never free; therefore, free web hosting is not a good idea for most people. If you own a website for business purposes – it’s an immediate no. Still, there are some exceptions in which you might give this solution a go – if you are a first-time user, you might get free web hosting to test the service for your personal blog or website.
The best and most obvious advantage of free website hosting is that it is entirely free of charge. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. With free website hosting, you might encounter security issues and privacy concerns. You’ll be left alone if anything goes wrong, meaning you cannot expect customer support or technical assistance. Furthermore, these plans might negatively affect your SEO and customer satisfaction.
As for now, we strongly suggest you consider the option of cheap web hosting. It will help you save some money while you reap the benefits of a quality website hosting service. It’s the best of both worlds – reliability, speed, and support on a budget.
3 Cheap Web Hosting Alternatives
When it comes to web hosting, cheap is better than free. Our experts have chosen the top three cheap website hosting providers to help you create a professional-looking website. And while you might have to spend a dollar or two, you’ll receive strong performance in return.
See all the best cheap hosts »
If you are on a tight budget or no budget at all, you might turn to free web hosting to help you cut costs. Like any other web hosting service, a free web host will get your site online so that anyone can assess your content. But be careful, as these providers rarely offer the complete hosting package you’ll need for your site.
Fortunately, our experts can take a load of work off your shoulders. They have performed an independent study and weighting, testing dozens of leading hosting providers. Better yet, you won’t have to rely on our company only. Thousands of user reviews from around the globe, performance tests, and surveys have contributed to the following article. Please keep reading to find the best options available for REALLY FREE web hosting, its respective pros and cons, and more to make the best decision for your site.
We get it if you are in a hurry – let’s save you both time and money! Here is a list of our top picks for the best web hosting you can get without spending a dime.
How We Ranked and How You Should Choose the Best Provider for You?
- Performance, Uptime, and Server Response Times12%
- Resource Limits and Compatibility15%
- Ads or Banners5%
- Privacy and Security7%
- Terms of Service20%
- Easy To Use Interface3%
- Support Services3%
- Upgrade Options5%
- User Reviews30%
Our ranking is based on weighted scores and thousands of user reviews from customers worldwide. At HostAdvice, we perform performance tests of each web host. Our experts purchase the plan, or in this case, get it for free, to be able to undergo the same process you would go through as a customer. Then, they test the provider against pre-established criteria for the specific category.
We have excluded pricing from the free web hosting category since it’s equal for all providers. However, we have considered hidden costs and upgrade potential instead. In addition, our HA professionals have focused on general web hosting performance indicators, such as speed, uptime, and security.
Once we finish the testing, we combine the results in a single weighted score according to the allocated percentage to each factor. This number represents the importance of the factor for an ideal free web hosting plan compared to other factors within the same category. The rule of thumb is; the higher the percentage, the more this factor contributes to the quality of a free web host.
Our AI technology has ranked the best free hosting providers using the same factors our experts used during the testing phase:
- Performance, Uptime, and Server Response Times (12%): Our experts have chosen the top alternatives with minimum downtime and maximum speed. Of course, free plans cannot compete with paid ones, so you cannot expect your server to be up and running at all times or reach near 100% uptime. Still, it would help if you strived towards a provider with fewer outages and decent load times.
- Resource Limits and Compatibility (15%): You can expect minimal resources even with the best free hosting. However, with some options, the resource limits will prevent you from installing a theme or WordPress, not to mention visitors. At this point, you must check what you are getting – 1GB storage might be sufficient for your small website, but anything below this number will force you to say goodbye to photos, videos, etc. Also, you should consider the number of visitors allowed on your site monthly, bandwidth, CPU, number of web pages, email accounts, databases, domains, subdomains, compatibility with other apps and operating systems, SEO tools, and backups.
- Ads or Banners (5%): It’s not surprising to encounter a never-ending stream of upselling with free web hosting. And most usually, these ads and promotions target you, the buyer of the service, but they can also be directed towards your visitors. Either way, it’s bad for business. So, you should select a free web host that won’t do this or at least reduce the intensity of ads, annoying pop-ups, branding, logos, or footer tags on your site.
- Privacy and Security (7%): The reliability of your service should be your biggest concern with a free web host. As expected, the free web hosting service will not provide advanced technologies. Still, you should receive security monitoring, SSL certificates, Cloudflare CDN, or other protective measures for you and your visitors.
- Easy To Use Interface (3%): Are you looking for the best free hosting with cPanel? Indeed, it would be best if you considered the beginner friendliness of the web host. Will you get a 1-click or auto-installer for WordPress, Joomla, and other apps? What about Softaculous, availability of templates, and other issues that make the interface easy to navigate? As a first-time user, you must be able to find and do things quickly. After all, you’ll most likely be left on your own since you are not paying for support.
- Support Services (3%): Usually, free web hosting companies don’t hire humans to assist you with your doings because you’re not paying for them. However, in some rare instances, you can find the best of the best, offering 24/7 assistance free of charge. If that’s not the case, you should at least get access to a Knowledge Base, a Community Forum, or FAQ section to find the answers yourself.
- Upgrade Options (5%): What happens when you realize the free web hosting service is no longer sufficient for your website? Can you upgrade to a paid plan, and if yes, is it a good one? What if you want to move to another company? You should be able to do so quickly and without downtime.
- User Reviews (30%): Our ranking values customers’ experiences worldwide. People with different skills and experience get a say in the quality of free web hosts. After all, they have bought the plan and can contribute with a first-hand, unbiased review of the company.
Free Web Hosting: The Best Options For 2023
Wix is an experienced website builder that has been around since 2006. Since its inception, it has vastly expanded its services and now offers quality web hosting as well. It is the perfect provider for anyone looking to start out in the website business and that doesn’t want to pay for web hosting just yet. With Wix, you can get the basic web hosting service for free and use it successfully without any previous experience or tech knowledge.
- Overall score: 3.1
- Features: 3.2
- Support: 2.9
- User Friendly: 3.3
- Pricing: 3.2
- Reliability: 2.9
Features: When it comes to features, Wix offers many paid and free ones, including over 1000 innovative features for its website builder platform, advanced security monitoring, automatic setup, CDN, data backup protection, DDoS protection, HTTPS and SSL protection, professional email address, and built-in SEO tools. However, we gave it a 3.2 score because most of the features it offers are not included in its free web hosting plan, there is no free domain in the cheaper plans, and it offers more features for website building than for hosting.
Support: Wix offers two customer support programs, 24/7 customer care, and priority customer care. The priority customer care program is only available in the more expensive plans. Wix’s customer support is available via phone, email, and social media. Additionally, Wix has its own Wix Learn category with many courses and lessons. It also has a blog and an extensive Wix Help Center. However, we gave it a 2.9 score because some customers have reported issues with its refund policy, lack of responses from agents, and unhelpful solutions.
User Friendly: Wix is known among customers as the perfect place for beginners. It offers many easy-to-use tools, a great drag-and-drop builder, an intuitive and user-friendly interface, a flexible editor, and an overall service that is easy to navigate without any prior knowledge and experience. Additionally, it has a vast self-help library and a straightforward setup process. However, we gave it a 3.3 score because Wix does not offer the cPanel control panel, which is a favorite among beginners and developers.
Pricing: Wix provides numerous paid and free plans. As mentioned, you can get its basic web hosting service for free. The free web hosting version includes one free website, 500 MB of cloud storage, and 500 MB of bandwidth. However, we gave it a 3.2 score because its paid plans are a bit costlier than competitors, and its free web hosting plan is quite limited regarding storage and features.
Reliability: Wix offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, promising customers minimal downtime and latency issues. It provides enterprise-grade security, and customers can check the network status with only one click. However, we gave it a 2.9 score because its page loading speed time is not great and overall performance is average at best.
Additional parameter – Server location: 4.0: Hosting your website on a server that is in your or your target audience’s vicinity is vital because it directly impacts the performance and speed of your website. The closer you or your audience is to the server your website is hosted on, the better the speed and performance of your website will be. When it comes to Wix, there is no concrete information regarding the location of its servers. What we know is that it has multiple data centers around the world, most of which are in the US and Europe. Thus, we gave Wix a 4.0 score in this category because it caters to many customers in the mentioned regions but still lacks a presence in many parts of the world, where customers can experience slower performance, downtime, and latency issues due to server distance.
Pros and Cons
- A 99.9% uptime guarantee
- Built-in SEO tools
- A user-friendly interface
- Extensive integration library
- 24/7 customer support and an extensive self-help library
- Many easy-to-use tools
- Enterprise-grade security
- Built-in accessibility tools
- Branding tools
- DDoS protection
- Professional email address
- Email campaigns
- The free web hosting plan offers limited features and functionalities
- Slow page loading speeds
- The mobile version of your site can sometimes be non-responsive
Ranking comparison between the Top Providers
What Are the Limitations and Risks of Free Web Hosting?
Any free good/service sounds tempting, whether it comes to web hosting or anything else in everyday life. Who wouldn’t like to create and host a website without spending a dime? But be careful; free web hosting comes with inherent limitations and risks.
The question is, are free deals worth the downsides they come with?
[tip] If your website matters to you, it would be best to go for a full-featured and reliable web hosting provider. [tip]
First, free web hosting providers tend to be pretty unstable, meaning you can expect frequent outages and more downtime than paid providers. While the cheapest web hosting plans offer 99.95% uptime and above, you cannot expect the same with a free plan. Downtime and slow website speeds mean losing website visitors, customer satisfaction, and SEO. And unfortunately, you cannot expect any compensation for downtime with a free web hosting service.
Speaking of SEO, your website’s URL will most likely contain the name of the free web host in the form of ‘yourname.thewebhostname.com.’ And since you are not the only website on the server, both visitors and Google will link you to the neighboring sites, meaning if one of these websites is linked to fraudulent behavior or privacy breaches, you will lose visitors and SEO rankings at the same time.
Furthermore, some web hosts will use your site to promote their brand and display ads. In some cases, the provider might include their logo on your website. Shared branding and ads make it almost impossible for you to communicate a clear message or promote your brand. It will be challenging for your visitors to remember your website URL and associate it with a unique identity.
Next, free web hosting plans usually place significant resource restrictions on storage, bandwidth, the number of web pages you can create under the plan, etc. It means that your site will face limited growth and slow performance. If there are no sufficient hardware and software components available for your site, the best option is to upgrade your plan. That’s why our experts also considered this factor – how easy is it to upgrade your plan? Does the same provider offer paid plans, or do you have to migrate to another one, etc.?
You cannot expect any customer support with a free web hosting plan. Obviously, staff needs to be paid. Since the company isn’t making much money from you, they won’t be willing to dedicate too much time to you. So, even if the free web hosting service promises 24/7 assistance, you should be realistic with your expectations.
Finally, there’s a significant risk of getting your data leaked. As a business, data represents one of the most significant assets for you. Of course, this might happen with a paid hosting plan as well. However, the chances are much lower. Free web hosting plans don’t enforce the standard and fundamental security practices to protect their users. In turn, it’s much more likely to get your data stolen or leaked. There have been several examples in the past where hackers stole sensitive user data from free web hosts, including usernames, emails, and passwords.
Free Hosting for eCommerce Sites
Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to get your store online. You can choose from many free eCommerce platforms and tools to create a free eCommerce store. But while some of these tools will let you create the store and sell for free, others will charge you when you start selling.
If you are serious about your website, business, and customers, you should avoid free hosting for your eCommerce shop. Sure, you might use a free Website Builder to customize it, but that should be the end of it.
Free web hosts might get your data stolen or leaked if they don’t stick to the fundamental security practices needed to protect you and your customers. And if you are the owner of an eCommerce store, data is one of your most important assets. Upon payment, your customers provide you with their sensitive information, including name, surname, email, credit card details, address, etc. And you are the one responsible for handling and protecting this data. So, you cannot risk it. Your reputation determines your future growth and potential, so putting your customers on the line shouldn’t be an option.
Furthermore, downtime translates to a loss of customers and profits. If potential buyers cannot access your site, what’s the point of having one? Even with the best web hosting providers, you will likely get an unreliable service with many outages. And as an eCommerce store owner, uptime should be your topmost priority. The same applies to speed. People today don’t like waiting, so if your content doesn’t load quickly, they will be fast to leave your site.
Finally, free web hosts come with significant limitations on your resource usage. You’ll get insufficient storage, bandwidth, number of web pages, etc. In turn, your eCommerce store won’t ever be able to reach its full potential.
Free Web Hosting for Nonprofits and Educators
Free web hosting is a popular solution for nonprofits since they don’t generate profits and need affordable solutions. However, as a nonprofit, you should also pay special attention to reliable uptime and security, especially if you are accepting donations. Similar to an eCommerce store, the payment process includes sensitive data, and free web hosts can easily endanger your donors.
Your website should also be functional, meaning uptime of 99.95% and above, which is unusual for free web hosting services. So, what’s the better option for your business? Well, it’s much better to choose from the best cheap hosting options. They will help you stick to your budget while delivering optimal performance for your site.
As for educators, free web hosting services might suffice. Well, at least when they come from a reputable company. If you provide free lessons or teaching of any kind, you can commit to a free host. This way, you’ll get your site and materials online while incurring no unnecessary expenses. It’s a win-win situation!
Best Free Hosting Services: Conclusion
Free web hosting is an excellent solution for learning the ins and outs of web hosting. You might get a free plan to test how everything works if you are a first-time user. Apart from testing, these plans might also be sufficient for individual bloggers, educators, or small hobby websites. What better way to have your first website than without paying a dime?
But even if you find yourself part of this group, you still shouldn’t rush in and get a service, even though it’s free. Instead, it would be best to consider the disk space, bandwidth uptime, speed, quality of support, email accounts, SSL, automatic backups, the Website builder and control panel, tools, and plugin support of a given free web hosting provider, among other things.
And remember, free hosting is a big no when it comes to doing business. If you are on a tight budget but wish to create a serious or professional-looking website, it’s better to turn to the best cheap web hosting companies!
Pros and Cons of Free Web Hosting
As you can notice, the cons significantly outweigh the pros of free web hosting services. The main and probably only advantage is the price itself – you get to host your website completely free of charge. However, it’s downhill from that point and on.
With free web hosting, you are likely to experience performance issues, security and privacy concerns, limited resources such as storage or bandwidth, lack of email hosting, SSL certificates, and other necessary features, outdated PHP or MySQL versions, unexistent or very limited customer support, and forced ads among other things.
So, while free web hosts might cater to a niche, it’s indeed a very narrow one. If you don’t feel the risks are worth the rewards (and they are not), it’s better to turn to paid and reputable web hosting companies.