If you’re short of cash, but would still like to get a feel of how to run your very own website, then a free web hosting service is the best option. Back about a few years ago, free hosting was very limited in quantity and quality, but not these days. Free Hosting is now a great way to go when you want to put up a website really quickly, with no money. Its great when you don’t have a credit card to arrange the hosting and domain name. Also if it’s your first website, a personal page or many other factors you may choose to go the free hosting route. In order to have a good website though, there are some things you need to be aware of and look for in a free host provider.

  • Can it be trusted? Trust in the provider is very important though because your privacy is of importance to you.Make sure that they give you all the right credentials and check the privacy terms.
  • Storage allowance. This one is important. Scripts and html pages are not really a large in terms of filesize, but especially if you want media/images/files on your free website, then storage is important. Many free hosting services are free for the first 10mb and then start billing you in order to get more storage. Find a host that has at least 50 to 100mb of storage so that you don’t risk running out. Of course there are also free file hosts to consider.
  • Bandwidth Allocation. Along with storage, bandwidth is really important. And this is where lots of free hosts fall down. They only offer small amounts of bandwidth, and then once you reach it, they suspend your account. If this happens, often you need to pay for more bandwidth, or wait until the month is out in order to get your account functioning again. If this happens in some cases you can email them and ask for more and they might grant you some more, but is it worth the risk of website downtime?
  • Is there Advertising? And if yes, what kind of advertising? It’s a free service and the provider needs to make the income to pay the servers and maintenance somehow, so ads are expected. Lots of free hosts though go overboard with Popups and float-ins, as well as banner ads and plenty more. Try and find a free hosting provider that has non obtrusive advertising (NO Popups, visitors hate that!). Of course there is now option to have “smart” advertising, like “Control Panel” advertising, or Error Page advertising, etc which of couse is better for you since it does not actually interfere with your website.
  • Check the Functionality provided. Without user-friendly functionality, you could struggle to get your pages looking the way you want them to look. Try and find a service provider that offers a good solid control panel environment with easy file management and editing and perhaps event automatic installation of popular scripts you might want to use. Also many free hosts supply online site builders or site templates so users don’t even need to use programs like Dreamweaver, GoLive, or Microsoft FrontPage to build and design a site.
  • What about their Uptime? Need to check that your provider also has safe, reliable servers and maintenance, otherwise you may risk your website being up and down throughout the day! If a web hosting provider has a single server then check out the next one!

If you’re just new to the world of running and self-managing a site of your own then a free host will certainly help you learn the ropes fast. Stuff like changing the DNS, uploading files via FTP, designing, and virtually all the other website stuff are learnt through on-the-fly practice, without paying a dime. And of course, you can get all your support by browsing blogs and asking questions in the forums, so as to learn eventually. Then when it’s time to move to a paid host, you’re ready to not waste any time on your paid hosting.

The real benefit for the experienced webmasters though, is that you can use your free hosted sites as supportive sites to back up your own sites that you may have on paid hosting. Just putting up a decent basic page or website doesn’t take very long, and then you can start to point a few links towards your other sites. Not only that, you can get any spare domains you have – indexed in the search engines just by putting pages or sites on them, using the free hosting you have. A great way to have them indexed, and build a few backlinks to your other sites along the way (all on a different Class C IP, by the way).

Just make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. Each free host has their own peculiarities. Some just fold up in a short while without informing you. Which is why, you only use free hosting to do practice websites or sites which you won’t bother losing. I certainly think self managed free hosting has good benefits which have largely gone unnoticed by the majority of webmasters.

So, care to give free hosting a try?