Cheap or Free
There are many different applications for a website but
all require a level of website hosting before your site
can even begin its life online. The decision of which
host and which package to choose should begin with
deciding on the most important factors and then finding
the package that most closely matches this while still
meeting your budgetary requirements. Many hosts offer
cheap hosting packages that are available at $5 per
month or less, but there are a few that also offer free
hosting. We look at the significant differences between
the cheap and the free offerings.
About Free Hosting
The first thing to realize with free hosting is that
while you may not pay any money, there really is no such
thing as free. For any form of mission critical website,
free hosting is highly unlikely to offer the features
and stability that you are looking for. However, if you
are looking to host a personal website then it may be
just the ticket. The main reason for this is that while
even cheap hosting offers some form of guarantee
regarding the stability of your site, free hosting does
not need to offer anything like this.
Free Hosting Options
Free hosting comes in various formats. The most common
offers advertisement supported hosting using a subdomain,
e.g. yourdomain.freehosting.com. This enables the
hosting supplier to make revenue from your website and
also create a large number of content based pages on
their domain. The adverts may be in the shape of banner
advertisements or pay per click contextual ads but they
will generally be placed in a prominent position on each
of your pages. It is also common for your page to
include a link to the host.
Some paid hosting services also offer a free account.
Again, these do generally include advertising of some
form and a subdomain but the intention is more to
promote their service to you than to others.
The advantage of free hosting is immediately obvious. It
costs nothing, and as such is perfect for personal
websites and even non-profit organizations. However, if
you are looking to make a profit from your site or
convey a sense of professionalism then you should
seriously consider the use of paid hosting. Cheap
hosting is widely available and offers several
advantages over a free host.
Cheap Hosting Introduction
The first advantage is the obvious lack of forced,
unpaid, advertisements. With cheap hosting it isn’t
necessary to serve advertisements on behalf of your
hosting company. Instead you can use your own
advertisements and make money for your own business or
for you personally. The forced advertisements are often
required to be placed in a certain position of your
page. This prominence can give your site an
unprofessional feeling. Because you are in charge of ad
placement it is possible, even with hosting that costs a
couple of dollars a month, to generate the kind of image
that your website needs.
The Features On Offer
Features are also important to any self respecting
Webmaster. Cheap hosting generally offers a very good
list of features that can be easily and quickly
installed onto your website. With free hosting this is
unlikely because of the cost it incurs for the hosting
company. These features include a much greater level of
bandwidth and disk space but you can also find cheap
hosting that enables the easy installation of blogs,
forums, thumbnail galleries and much more.
Cheap hosting is required to offer a greater level of
support. For free hosts support is generally only
offered online or through support emails and no
guarantee is usually given regarding the length of time
it will take them to respond. Cheap hosting packages
should generally offer a much greater level of support.
As well as email and ticket based support you should
also expect to receive telephone support and all support
should be offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Network Uptime And Site Stability
Network uptime is the amount of time that the network is
available. Free hosts do not need to, and therefore
don’t, offer a network uptime guarantee because their
customers do not pay for this level of service. Cheap
hosting, on the other hand, does usually include a
network uptime guarantee. As a general rule this can be
anywhere between 99% and 99.99%; obviously the high the
Program support is also a question you should consider.
If you intend to use a program like Dreamweaver then you
might struggle to find a free hosting package that
offers Frontpage support and extensions. On the other
hand many cheap hosting providers will offer this as
standard. If you require Perl, ColdFusion, or ASP then
you should definitely be looking to cheap hosting in
preference to free.
Free And Cheap Hosting Conclusion
Generally speaking, the biggest differences between free
and cheap hosting is service level, network stability,
and choice. Because free hosts are providing you a
service that ordinarily costs money you get very little
in the way of any of these. In comparison, cheap hosting
companies tend to offer several different levels of
hosting package and, as such, they will go the extra
mile wherever possible to provide you with the service
Running a personal website does not place the same
demands on you, your website, or your host. As such it
is feasible that you could use a free host for this
application. However, when you are looking for increased
service, improved stability, or a greater range of
features then you will need to look at the paid options.
Cheap hosting does have a lot to offer over free offers
and because there is so much choice available you should
be able to find the package that is most ideally suited
to your needs.