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.
Free Web Hosting: The Best Options For 2023
Finding a scalable web hosting provider is especially important for websites that want to grow quickly and seamlessly. Kamatera is one such hosting provider, as it allows you to get more resources whenever you need them without your website going offline. Also, it allows you to pay only for the resources you use and has a 30-day free trial you can use.
- Overall Score: 4.8
- Pricing: 4.7
- Features: 4.8
- Performance: 5.0
- Support: 4.9
- User Friendly: 4.9
Pricing: With Kamatera, you can pay by the minute, hour, or month and pay only for the resources you use. You can try it out for free for 30 days, and its plans start at $0.005/hour or $4/month.
Features: Kamatera offers many powerful cloud features, such as a private cloud network, a cloud load balancer, a cloud firewall, managed cloud services, flexible, cost-effective cloud servers, cloud block storage, and more.
Performance: This provider offers a no single-point-of-failure network and a 99.95% uptime guarantee. Its data centers are spread out worldwide, covering North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Support: As a Kamatera user, you’ll get 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone, and email. You’ll also get fast response times and access to professionals in the field that will help you with any and all issues or questions you might have.
User Friendly: Kamatera is easy to use as it comes with an intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate and a fast setup process. You can either choose one of the provided hosting plans or make your own, then manage everything straight from your dashboard.
Pros & Cons
- Highly scalable resources that won’t affect your website’s performance when you’re scaling.
- Flexible payment options that allow you to only pay for what you use.
- A 30-day free trial that allows you to see if Kamatera is the right solution without wasting money.
- Not ideal for beginners (but you’ll get ample customer support, and there are managed services that you can purchase if you need to).
IONOS is another great web hosting provider which you can try out risk-free for 30 days and decide if it suits your needs. It also offers super low prices, and even though the plans are cheap, they still include all the necessary hosting features and excellent security. In addition to that, you’ll get top-notch customer support, fast loading speeds, and reliable performance from the provider. And if you don’t like the services you get, you can get a full refund before the 30 days are up.
- Overall Score: 3.9
- Pricing: 3.9
- Features: 3.5
- Performance: 4.3
- Support: 4.0
- User Friendly: 3.8
Pricing: IONOS’ cheapest web hosting plan costs $1/month, and you can try it risk-free via the 30-day money-back guarantee. It includes hosting for unlimited websites, unlimited storage, unlimited databases, and up to 6GB of RAM.
Features: With IONOS, you’ll get many useful hosting and security features, such as daily backups and recovery, PHP, HTTP/2, gzip, Site Scan, DDoS protection, geo-redundancy, SiteAnalytics, a free SSL certificate, free professional email, a free domain for the first year, and more.
Performance: IONOS promises that your site will be up 99.9% of the time via its uptime guarantee. You can also choose your own server location, which can either be in the UK, US, or Europe.
Support: With award-winning customer support under its belt, IONOS is great for those who need frequent assistance. You can reach its customer support team via phone and live chat and use its knowledge base to find many different tutorials and guides.
User Friendly: Unlike many other web hosting providers, IONOS has its own custom-built control panel that is intuitive and easy to use. Also, it has a “Deploy Now” feature, which allows you to launch your website in three short steps.
Pros & Cons
- A 30-day return policy that allows you to try out IONOS risk-free before you commit.
- Super low prices and beginner-friendly features.
- Suitable for up-and-coming websites looking to grow quickly.
- It doesn’t offer a free web hosting plan (but has a return policy).
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
Know the frustration of discovering the perfect web host, but they only offer servers in the US or UK? For international businesses, this is a common challenge. ChemiCloud, however, provides a solution by offering data centers across Asia and Oceania, and not just in Europe and North America. Test out ChemiCloud’s global reach with their risk-free 45-day trial to see if it offers value for your investment.
- Overall Score: 5.0
- Pricing: 4.9
- Features: 5.0
- Performance: 5.0
- Support: 5.0
- User Friendly: 5.0
Pricing: ChemiCloud’s entry-level shared hosting plan costs $2.99/month and includes hosting for one website, 20GB NVMe storage, unlimited bandwidth, and 1GB RAM. You can try it risk-free for 45 days and get a refund if it doesn’t suit you.
Features: With ChemiCloud, you’ll get fast-paced NVMe storage, free domain registration, free website transfer, daily backups, a free SSL certificate, Softaculous 1-click installs, WAF, Immunify360, Rebootless Secure Kernel, CloudLinux, proactive server monitoring, gzip, unlimited email accounts, and more.
Performance: ChemiCloud offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee and a reliable cloud platform that ensures fast page loads and reliable performance. Also, the provider uses LiteSpeed cache and includes a free Cloudflare CDN in all web hosting plans for even better performance.
Support: This provider comes with 24/7 customer support via live chat and has fast response times. Also, on its website, you can find a vast knowledge base and video tutorials.
User Friendly: Setting up a hosting plan and a website is pretty straightforward with ChemiCloud. The whole hosting and website setup process only takes a few minutes. Also, the provider gives you access to Softaculous, which allows you to install hundreds of apps with one click.
Pros & Cons
- 45-day money-back guarantee that ensures you get a full refund if you’re not satisfied.
- Easy-to-use features and a super simple and fast setup process.
- Excellent performance and a 99.99% uptime guarantee.
- There’s no entirely-free plan (but you can try out any services for 45 days and get a refund).
HostArmada is a household name in the web hosting industry. It offers robust cloud web hosting built on a state-of-the-art cloud platform. And thanks to its cloud platform, it can offer stable and reliable performance that will ensure your website is online and always there for your visitors. You can’t get a free plan from this provider, but you can try out its services completely risk-free for 45 days.
- Overall Score: 5.0
- Pricing: 4.9
- Features: 5.0
- Performance: 5.0
- Support: 5.0
- User Friendly: 5.0
Pricing: The provider’s entry-level shared hosting plan costs $2.49/month (on a three-year billing period) and includes one website, 15GB SSD, 2GB RAM, and 2 CPU Cores. All its plans (except for the monthly ones) are also eligible for a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Features: With HostArmada, you’ll get a wide range of features and great value for money. Some of those features include a free cPanel Control Panel, free daily backups, a free domain, Imunify360, SSH access, automatic daily backups, malware scans & removals, WAF & IP Firewall, and more.
Performance: HostArmada’s state-of-the-art cloud platform offers super-reliable and fast performance. The provider also comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and data centers on three continents.
Support: This provider offers excellent customer support, available 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone, and a ticketing system. HostArmada’s knowledge base and Learning Center also have many useful tutorials and guides.
User Friendly: HostArmada allows you to use cPanel, an easy-to-use control panel, for free. Also, it gives your access to Softaculous and enables you to manage the DNS entries in your DNS zone via your dashboard.
Pros & Cons
- Affordable plans with a wide range of free features and services.
- Super-fast and reliable performance.
- 45-day money-back guarantees on all plans (except for monthly plans).
- You can’t get web hosting for free (but you can leverage HostArmada’s 45-day money-back guarantee as a risk-free trial).
If you’re in need of speed, then look no further than A2 Hosting. A2 Hosting is one of the fastest web hosting providers out there, especially if you use its Turbo Servers, which offer 20x faster speeds and 5x more resources than regular servers. It doesn’t offer a free plan but comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee instead, allowing you to try out its services risk-free and decide whether this provider is a worthy investment.
- Overall Score: 4.7
- Pricing: 4.6
- Features: 4.7
- Performance: 4.7
- Support: 4.7
- User Friendly: 4.7
Pricing: A2 Hosting’s shared hosting plans start at $11.99/month (with lower prices on its longer-term plans). The entry-level plan includes hosting for one website, 100GB SSD storage, free site migration, and unlimited email accounts.
Features: Some of the features that you’ll get with A2 Hosting include RAID 10 SSD storage, MySQL, MariaDB, unlimited transfer, a free SSL certificate, KernelCare, Automatic & Rebootless Kernel updates, DDoS protection, Web Hosting Firewall, Brute Force Defense, Anycast DNS, Cloudflare CDN, and more.
Performance: A2 Hosting’s regular servers come with fast-paced RAID 10 SSD storage and top-of-the-line hardware. Also, they come with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and a 10 gb/s redundant network. The Turbo Servers come with LiteSpeed web servers 11 times faster than Apache and NVMe SSD, providing 40% faster CPU performance.
Support: A2 Hosting offers round-the-clock customer support via live chat, phone, and email. In addition, you’ll get access to an extensive knowledge base with hundreds of guides and tutorials.
User Friendly: This provider offers a drag-and-drop editor, fast website deployment, and point-and-click installs. Also, you can get managed services if you need more technical help.
Pros & Cons
- Blazing-fast loading speeds and performance.
- Feature-rich plans that are subject to a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- State-of-the-art hardware.
- There’s no free web hosting plan (but all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee).
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.
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.