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Best Free Hosting
Just about everybody loves getting things for free.
Offering free products has been a staple of effective marketing for a long time. Digital products often offer free services for a week knowing that most people won't read the terms and services.
The idea of getting something for free is the driving force behind why many people choose free hosting. But ask yourself, is there a difference between getting a free coffee mug that sits in the back of your cabinet and getting free web hosting? The answer to that question has a lot to do with what you expect to get from the hosting service and what you want out of your website.
Ok maybe not the best example. 🤷♀️
But there are valid reasons for choosing paid web hosting. However, if we are being honest, we have to admit that not every single site being uploaded to the web is going to lead to the next big thing. A lot of us want a simple place where we can do email marketing campaigns, write down our thoughts for the day, post our recent cat photos or share things with others without a lot of hassle.
Today we're going to look at a number of free services. These include 100% free services and premium services that offer free one-two month trials.
Free Versus Cheap Basic Hosting
Before we start our comparison, you should be aware that you are never going to find a host that will give you a free domain URL that you can choose. It doesn’t happen. As an example, if I was looking to open a veterinarian clinic, I’m not going to find a free hosting company that will give me www.myveterinariansite.com. That’s because it costs money to host the DNS and register the name.
I might be able to get is www.myveterinariansite.freewebhostingcompany.com.
Your domain name and your website will always be owned by the parent company. If you want to take ownership of a site you create using free hosting, you are going to pay for it through the nose. It's sort of like squatting on someone else's property. Everything that you're using is borrowed from them.
While there are a bunch of issues with free hosting (discussed below) one of the biggest problems is that if you ever decide you'd like to own your domain, your website and your content then you'll have to pay and arm and a leg to migrate your website to your own server.
Free Isn’t Really Free… Here’s Why
It costs money to run a hosting business. Salary, staff, and marketing all take cash. So how does the “free” hosting company make money?
They do it by selling you to others. While they don’t actually sell you, they do sell your data.
Here’s How the Scheme Works
- Wait for You to Upgrade – This means you end up paying 400 to 500 percent migration fees.
- Malware and Spyware - A report by the Guardian revealed that some free hosts monitored users activity and sold user data.
- Selling Your Personal Information – Advertisers are willing to pay for your information so they can market to you.
- Forced Advertising – Your site may end up advertising male enhancement products. Hey, just saying....
- Unprofessional – If one day you decide to take your collection of cat photos and turn it into something professional, having a free domain name will be a detriment.
The Seven Best “Almost Free” Web Hosts
If hearing free web hosting gets you salivating at the mouth, remember that “free” often equals low storage, poor performance, and bandwidth limitations.
If you don’t pay to upgrade, your site will be plastered with intrusive ads. (Ads which you don't control)
You can use free hosting as long as you want. However, if you get serious about your site, it is going to need to upgrade to something more robust, and this is going to cost some money.
We’re not talking huge gobs of money. You could spend between three and $10 a month and get an email account, a free domain, storage, and even some e-commerce functionality. Check out these five almost free hosting companies.
1. Hostinger – $0.80/Month Great Quality for price
- Cheapest Host Hands Down
- Great Speed
- Easy to Use Interface
- 24/7/365 Support
- 30 Day Return Policy
- Great price for the quality
- Cryptocurrency payments accepted
- The cheapest plan only allows you to host one website
Hostinger is a hosting company that’s always improving. We’ve noticed a steady improvement in their load times. This is a good option for low-cost hosting for someone just getting started. Their lowest tier is going to cost you $.80 USD per month. Their premium package is $2.15 USD per month. When you look at their performance numbers over the last year, they are impressive.
One would think that with such low pricing Hostinger would be really struggling to provide high quality service but our live testing shows the opposite. Hostinger has great scores across the board for uptime and additional features.
You can read our detailed Hostinger review for more info.
2. Hostgator – More Expensive But Great Quality Hosting
- Website Builder
- Great Performance
- 99.9% Uptime
- 24/7/365 Support
- 45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
- Sets up in under seven minutes
- Easy to use control panel
- Unlimited disc space, email, and bandwidth on all plans
- No contract
- 45 day money back guarantee
- Mediocre web speed
- Rumored to throttle your bandwidth
Hostgator is one of the most well-known hosting brands on the planet. Their parent company is Endurance International. They are the largest web service corporation on the planet. Hostgator is a great fit for a lot of different types of websites. Hostgator has amazing pricing. They often offer certain plans for up to three years at $2.75 a month. They do all of this while offering stellar support and reliability.
3. Siteground – Best for Multiple Websites
- Lightening Fast
- Lots of Free Upgrades
- Host Multiple Sites
- 24/7/365 Support
- Free SSL
- Beginner friendly web host
- 24/7 staff support
- They can install your website for you
- You need to pay for the entire year upfront
SiteGround has state-of-the-art server technology. This makes them a reliable host. They offer a free website builder and a domain. This means that you are able to get your website up and going quickly for a reduced cost. They offer unlimited disc space, storage, and email accounts. Their service is easy to set up and has been providing state-of-the-art reliability since 1998. Their startup entry-level service runs for around $4 USD a month.
4. BlueHost – Oldest and Most Reliable
- FREE Domain Name for 1st Year
- FREE SSL Certificate Included
- 1-Click WordPress Install
- 24/7 Support
- Competitive Pricing
- While some hosting companies will migrate your site for free, BlueHost charges $100
BlueHost has been renowned in the world of hosting for a number of years. They have a phenomenal reputation for quality infrastructure and for providing stellar customer support. WordPress.org absolutely adores them. They have free templates and a Weebly site builder. They have a free Cloudflare CDN. Their beginning plan starts at $2.95 a month with a free domain. Read our detailed BlueHost review.
A Few Other Paid Hosts We Like
The list below is of paid hosts that we also think are good choices. While we don't think they are the top choice for people looking for cheap hosting they still offer come great performance and features.
- Simplified Setup
- Easy-to-use Builder
- Great Maintenance and Security
- Website Support
- An independent operator
- 90 day money back guarantee
- Unlimited email accounts and bandwidth
- Free secure site with SSL and hack protection
- Free cPanel and website migrations
- Limitations on the number of websites you can host
- Limitations on the number of databases you can create
InMotionHosting has become a favorite of online entrepreneurs and IT nerds. This is thanks in part to their business class hosting plans. Sure, you are going to pay a little bit more than you would if you chose rock-bottom hosting. However, you get a lot more value for a lot less cost. Other benefits of InMotionHosting are that they have multiple data centers and use state-of-the-art hardware.
6. A2 Hosting
- Extremely Fast
- Free Transfers
- Anytime Money Back
- 24/7/365 Support
- Unlimited everything
- 99 percent uptime
- Data centers in Europe, the United States, and Singapore
- You can always ask for a refund
- You need to upgrade to a more expensive plan to gain additional server speed
A2 Hosting does not simply resell prepackaged hosting plans. Instead, they have dedicated their resources to build their own software and hardware configurations. The idea is that by having proprietary hardware and software, they will have a better control over security, performance, and speed. You may find that A2 Hosting is going to cost a few cents more than some of the other options we have reviewed, but they have additional benefits.
- Bit Expensive for Speed
- Free SSL
- MySQL Databases
- 24/7/365 Support
- Environmentally friendly business practices
- Migrate your CMS website from another host for free
- 99 percent uptime
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 24/7 live chat support
- Support is great for small issues. However, if you have more serious issues, you may wait up to 72 hours for in-depth tech support
HostPapa is not just interested in getting as many clients as they can and then just letting them be. Their business model is to get people interested in their product by offering a low priced starter plan. Then, over the course of their business with you, they strive to gain your trust with the goal of becoming a full-service business partner. Entrepreneur minded individuals are going to be happy to see how HostPapa is creating more e-commerce options.
Free Site Builders
We have talked about the “almost free” site out there. But are there actually “free” web hostings companies out there?
Sort of, but not really. We did our due diligence and searched for hosting companies that are going to give you good quality without charging you one cent.
There are actually some legitimate ones out there. However, what they do is offer you a free hosting package that is so limited that you are forced to migrate to another service or to upgrade.
Instead of giving you a list of junk hosting companies that you are going to regret using, we opted to give you a few that may have a free trial or may offer some free features but do offer a quality paid premium service that is reasonably priced for what you get.
1. Wix – Best All Around Choice
- An excellent browser-based site builder
- Frequently adds new templates
- Great for beginners
- Little to no live support
- No help with technical issues
There is a reason why WIX leads the market when it comes to website builders. They are simple to use, they allow you to create an account in a matter of minutes, and you can have your site up and running in the blink of an eye. You don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar or enrolled in Mensa to understand how to use this website builder. In just a few minutes, you’re going to be creating images, sliders, menus, and a whole lot more. The reason that we threw them in our list is because you can get a free domain if you purchase a plan.
2.Volusion – Legacy Company But Hard to Use
- This is a great option for individuals looking to bring a stellar looking online store to life
- A wide variety of e-commerce tools
- Easy to integrate with social media, Amazon, and eBay
- A number of ways to receive payments
- Built in SEO
- PCI compliant
- If you want to get the most sought after e-commerce features, you’re going to have to pay for a hosting plan
Volusion is designed for individuals who are looking to build and host online stores. Obviously, their free service is free. However, if you want to take advantage of some of their additional features, you are going to have to pay out-of-pocket.
- Great website builder for the price
- Allows you to preview your site on desktop and mobile apps
- 15 day refund is kind of stingy
One.com isn’t free, but it is as close to free as you can get. If you’re okay with building a website that doesn’t have a lot of frills or is simply focused on email hosting, then you will appreciate the starter package offered with this account. For $3 a year, you get a domain, unlimited email accounts, and a website builder. Not bad for a measly $3 a year. Most of us lose more money than that in our couches every year.
Plans get more expensive from that base price. For example, if you want a WordPress enabled plan, you’re going to spend around $3.50 per month.
4. Shopify – Best For Ecommerce
- Make a fully functioning online marketplace using just one hosting provider
- Many free and premium templates
- All hosting plans come with unlimited everything
- Easy to accept Stripe payments
- It’s going to be difficult to accept payments if you use anything other than the in-house option Stripe
Shopify is known as the go-to place for e-commerce. If you’re looking to build an e-commerce site, then this is the hosting company that’s right for you. This is perfect for sellers who have a small budget and are looking to get the ball rolling before they upgrade hosting.
Five Other Sites That Are Worth Taking a Look at
Let’s go back to talking about free stuff. We have already established that we love it. It seems like it’s part of human nature to want to get a good deal. The web hosting industry understands this about people, so they have really pushed the idea of free hosting.
There are so many cheap and low priced options that it can become difficult for you as a consumer to sort one out from the other. So that’s what we are here for. It’s our job to sort through the jumble of web hosting options that are available, look at the different deals, and decide if it’s really worth it or not.
Something that we have seen clearly is that there are a couple of hosting companies you don’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole. Not even to whack him on the head with it. We say this because we have tested them one by one, and the ones that we found that were junk, were junk.
There are a number of hosting options that do not fit in the first two categories we presented. That’s why we’ve created this category to throw in all of the misfit (and we say this in a good way) hosting companies. We will refer to them as the Best of the Rest.
- A truly free service with some limitations
- Poor technical support
As we have tried to establish, completely free web hosting usually comes with some attachments. You will likely have ads on your site, slow speed, or expose yourself to malware and data theft. 000Webhost prides itself on being a company that does not charge for their service and that does not fill your site with ads from their host.
There are some limits to what you are going to get. However, this may be a viable option if you want to create a site just for yourself or a small business. There is even the option to put ads on the site.
When you sign up for the free plan, you can build a site by:
- 000Webhost easy web builder
- Uploading web files
That’s a lot of options, especially for a free site.
You also get one gig of space and 10 gigs of bandwidth. That should be more than enough as long as you don’t have a ton of large image files.
One of the impressive things is that you can run PHP and MySQL from the free account. This means that you can use a CMS like WordPress.
You are also able to manage your website using cPanel. You can manage email, backups, files, and FTP accounts.
There are a few downsides, but they are what you should expect from a free hosting option. They have higher downtimes than paid services. They promise a 99 percent uptime, but the reality proves to be far different. The speed is a bit slow compared to paid hosting options.
- Community of more than 750,000 members
- More expensive than others, but cheaper than many web hosts with same features
x10Hosting is easy to set up. Most people can go through the registration process and get to the main dashboard in under five minutes. Some people have had problems with usernames and passwords during the initial setup.
x10Hosting has a well laid out and well organized community. However, if you’re looking for more in-depth answers, you might not find them. x10Hosting is great when it comes to a fast set up. But some people feel that they are on their own if they get stuck and need help. Regardless of a person’s technical expertise, customer support is crucial.
x10Hosting offers a completely free service. There is also a premium service that promises unlimited disc space, unlimited domains, and unlimited bandwidth. All of this is for $6.95. If you pay for three years, the cost goes down to $3.95 a month. If you pay for three years at a time, there are other benefits, including a free SSL certificate and a free dedicated IP address.
If you take the free package, you get zero customer support. And by zero, we mean zilch. If you take the $6.99 a month package, you get 24/7 support.
- Community of hundreds of thousands of members
- Although you are not going to see ads with their free package, in the footer you are going to see the Weebly.com logo
This is the website builder built for small businesses. It has all of the features that you’re going to need to create simple business websites. There are a number of mobile responsive themes that are easy for you to customize and then fine-tune using CSS and HTML.
Weebly allows you to build a great-looking site without using any code. Their drag-and-drop editing tool allows you can create and host a site for your hobby or small business, even if you know nothing about website design. Right now, it is used to power more than 40 million websites.
Weebly offers a free trial and then has plans that start from $5.00 a month.
- Everything that you would want from a quality hosting plan
- Ticket based support system
- Basic plan just $.17 per month
- They offer a WordPress installer. But it doesn’t have the drag-and-drop design capability
AwardSpace offers a comprehensive web hosting package for free. While at first this sounds kind of gimmicky, it’s really not.
Proof of this is seen by just how popular their shared host and premium package is. AwardSpace offers three planned packages, each designed to meet the growing needs of customers. Many customers who use their free plan decide to upgrade when the free option no longer suits their needs.
AwardSpace currently has over 2.5 million customers with an uptime of 99 percent or more.
- They offer a server cluster as opposed to a single piece of serving hardware
- Customer friendly
- Free 250 MB plan is restrictive for anything but a very basic site
Freehostia started offering their service in 2005. Their goal is to provide low-cost hosting services. They do offer free hosting plans. Their entire service is built on cluster-based web hosting.
Their free plan provides five hosted domains, 200 MB disc space, three email accounts, and six GB monthly traffic. From there, there are four cloud plans that are available. The least expensive plan is known as WaterCircle and costs under three dollars a month. The most expensive plan, Supernatural, costs $9.95 a month. They also offer a range of VPS, semi-dedicated, and dedicated hosting options.
In this review, we have briefly talked about a number of different hosting options. Some of the companies we have reviewed offer free hosting packages. We are not saying that you should stay away from free hosting packages, but they often leave a lot to be desired if you want the best web hosting.
You’re going to be limited when it comes to storage space. You are going to be limited when it comes to bandwidth. A number of the features you might be accustomed to with a paid hosting service are not going to be there. This means that your site may not be as professional looking as you would like it to be.
Sometimes it is better to spend a little bit of money and get a service that you can be proud of. Sometimes it’s better to spend a few dollars a month and have the comfort that comes from knowing your site is going to be up and running almost 100 percent of the time.
The free hosting options we mentioned may be good if you are looking at writing an individual blog or if you are looking for a place to store or host personal photos. If you are just getting started out and you need a website but have zero budget, then a free hosting option may be better than no hosting option.
Remember, when it comes time to migrate your site over to a paid option, you’re probably going to have to pay a premium price to do this. What’s nice about the paid options that we’ve reviewed is that they usually only charge somewhere between a few pennies or a few dollars per month.
Something that we can say that is positive about free hosting is that reputable companies are hoping that you will start out with their free service and then you will move on to their premium service. So they are going to keep their free service functioning well as a way of enticing you to spend money later.
At the end of the day, if there are certain features about a particular host that does not sit well with you, it is cheap to give another one a test drive. The goal is to find a hosting service that meets your businesses needs, that allows visitors to have an enjoyable experience when they visit your site, and that gives you the flexibility, customer service, reliability, and trustworthiness you need.
What do you think? Are there any benefits to using a free service over a paid one? We are interested in hearing from you. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.