If you’re looking to create a website, chances are you’ve been lured by the appeal of free unlimited web hosting. After all, the sales pitch is enticing. A free spot to host my website? With no obligation from me? Count me in!
Not so fast.
Unfortunately, while these types of services look promising initially, the reality is that they contain many hidden pitfalls and stumbling blocks that can ultimately make them a far cry from the free, effortless solution they first appear to be.
Today, we’re breaking down a few reasons why free unlimited web hosting services aren’t exactly free, with some insider tips on how to avoid getting duped.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
1. Free Unlimited Web Hosting: How Free Is It?
Remember the old adage, “Nothing is really free?” Well, it turns out that this saying also applies to free unlimited web hosting services. Sure, you may be able to get your website up and running at no cost, but check out what you can do with it. Chances are, it’s not much.
Many of these services rely on a “freemium” business model. Put simply, this model works exactly as it sounds. You have your free version, then your premium one. Need an example? Think about the software you use to stream music. You typically have to pay for the premium version if you want all the robust functionality and helpful perks, like commercial-free streaming, right?
The same goes for your website, that one you didn’t pay a cent for. With the free version, you’ll probably be offered a limited amount of storage, bandwidth, and other capabilities. You’ll also have limited design options, forced to pull creativity from a few basic themes. If you want more, you’ll have to shell out for it.
2. You Don’t Own It
For many, a website is a professional entity. Money is generated from it and it’s an extension of a brand image (think professional bloggers). As such, you may want to sell it or trademark it as an asset one day.
Yet, if you read the tiny print on the agreement you checked “I agree” to, you’ll probably find that your free unlimited web hosting site isn’t actually yours after all. It actually belongs to the hosting service. Depending on how you use the site, this might be of little significance to you. But to some, it could have a monumental impact on the future of their business.
3. You Could Lose It Instantly
Depending on your skill set, contact, and availability, it could take a long time to build a website. Regardless, it requires dedication of valuable time and resources. Imagine, then, if you go to log on to your site one day and you find it’s no longer there. Nothing. Just vanished without a trace.
Unfortunately, that’s a reality for many people who create their sites using a free unlimited web hosting service.
If the service provider itself gets flagged for any reason, it may opt to shut down altogether. Other times, the provider might pull an individual site without warning for violating its terms and conditions (which can often be lengthy and somewhat difficult to absorb).
When this happens, you’ll not only lose your content, but also the backlinks you created and the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics you built. You’ll also lose your free subdomain name along with it. Oh, and in the event that a technical issue is to blame for your inaccessibility, tech support services are usually difficult to come by.
4. Your Message Could Be Lost in Ads
Remember your limited design options? Not only will you be limited in how you can display your information, you’ll also have to compete against forced advertisements for your readers’ attention.
Forced ads are essentially ones that the free unlimited web hosting provider sticks into your site for you, so it can turn a profit from those who visit your space. They’re often totally insignificant or irrelevant to your message, and may even be offering a product or service that’s in direct competition with the one you’re toting. You won’t see any income from these invasive spots, but they’ll clog your content, and divert your users, just the same.
5. You Can’t Make Upgrades
As a general rule, what was shiny and new in the tech world quickly becomes yesterday’s news. This means that your website might run well in the beginning, but in a few months or years, might be ready for an upgrade. You might also want to start using your site for more advanced and varied purposes. For example, you may want to sell goods online or add a virtual sign-up form.
Upgrading your capabilities often requires plugins. This is especially true for sites designed in WordPress. However, if you’re only working with the provider’s free version, you’ll probably be unable to make these changes. Instead, you’ll be forced to make do with the basic version you’re currently working in, with no capability beyond what you originally signed up for.
A Better Option: Hosting Services That Deliver
In the end, while free unlimited web hosting services may seem ideal in the beginning, they’re usually too good to be true. A smarter alternative is to trust your website to a paid host that can offer the professional support and capabilities to turn your content into the vision you’ve always wanted.
As you begin to browse hosting options for your business, I’d love to help make the research a little easier. I offer comprehensive, detailed reviews on a long list of web hosting companies, detailing the pros, cons, pricing, and details of each so you can make a decision more quickly, and soundly, than ever before.
If you’re ready to get started, take a look at a few of the website ranking tools I use to make my critiques and to track how each host performs. Then, take a look at some of this year’s host ratings and start comparing today.
If you have any questions or need more information, feel free to contact me or leave a message below and let’s connect!