Have you ever wondered how those companies which offer free web hosting actually manage to stay in business? After all, they seem to offer everything we’d need to get our websites online without charging us the kind of money that many of the big name hosting providers do, so how do they do it?
Surely there must be some kind of catch, right?
Well, yes and no. In some cases, those free web hosting plans are more than adequate, especially for small, personal websites attracting a limited amount of visitors. If that sounds like you, then go ahead, get your free hosting plan and give yourself a pat on the back for sticking it to the man.
For the rest of those, free hosting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you start to look at what’s actually involved. Let’s not forget, these companies aren’t offering you a freebie out of the goodness of their hearts, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise.
Like any business, they’re in it to turn a profit, and here’s just a few ways to do it.
Have you ever actually looked at what comes with a free hosting package? In the majority of cases, it isn’t much at all, perhaps 100MB or so of storage and a bit of bandwidth capable of serving up a site to tens -rather than hundreds of thousands- of visitors. Again, whilst this might be good enough for personal or hobby sites with a limited audience, for the rest of us looking to make our mark on the web, such plans just aren’t going to cut it. You can save on interserver deals and offers.
Still, if we like the look of a particular company but need more from them than their free packages, we can always pay them for more resources and features, and that’s just one way that these firms start to make a profit.
Another way that they do it is to spoil that beautifully designed website you spent hours working on by slapping advertising over the top of it. Often times, this is only in a single place, such as in the website’s footer section, but it’s still enough to be a major detraction (even more so its placed more prominently elsewhere on the page) particularly if you’re trying to run a professional business website and generate income for yourself, rather than using your site as basically a free advertisement for somebody else’s products.
On the other hand, when you pay for even the cheapest plans from a top 10 website hosting brand, that site is completely yours, there’s no third-parties peddling their wares on the back of your hard work, so if you’re serious about the image you present on the web, that free plan may not be such a good idea after all.
Speaking of the way you present yourself online, it’s a well-known fact that just about every free hosting plan on the market fails to include a domain name, and for good reason too; those things cost money, even for the companies themselves.
Instead, what you usually get is a sub-domain of your host’s existing website address, such as myfreehosting.com/mywebsite or something to that effect.
That’s not to say that you can’t attach your own .com to your free-hosted website, but to do that, you’ll have to pay the company money, and they make a profit on anything above the actual costs they pay to sort out that domain for you.
Domains aren’t the only products you’ll have to pay extra for. Things like email accounts, and in some cases customer support tickets are also sold as extras, meaning that free plan may not be so free after all.