If you’re a small business owner thinking of expanding your client reach, then you must be thinking of taking your business online. Today, there’s no denying the fact virtually every business, small or big, requires a web presence. When it comes to building your website, you might find yourself at crossroads wondering whether to choose a free website hosting or a paid web hosting. We all love free services but when it comes to website hosting, you might want to weigh your options carefully to ensure that you make the right choice for your business. In today’s post, we take a look at the differences between free website hosting and paid website hosting.
An important factor to consider when choosing a host is personal/business branding. With free hosting, you won't be allowed to use your own domain name. Instead, you’ll be offered a subdomain that looks something like “yourwebsite.host.com”. For a startup or a personal blog, having the host’s name as part of your URL might not be an issue. However, if you want an edge over other websites and to grow your personal brand, then your own domain name matters big time. With a domain name, you’ll rank better in search engines, have exclusive ownership of your domain name, change the host provider and still use the same domain name, and you can have your own customized email address. Not to mention that your website will look more professional than one with a subdomain name.
Storage and Bandwidth
If you’re just starting out and don’t need a lot of disk storage, then a free web hosting service might be sufficient. However, as your business grows and the need for more space arises, you’ll find free website hosting limiting. Usually, free web hosting offers limited disk storage and bandwidth (the amount of data your website sends and receives over the internet within a specified period). This means that every time your site gets visitors, you use up some of the bandwidth. If your website gets a lot of traffic each month and contains large files like videos and images, then the limited space offered will not be sufficient. And, when you consume your allocated bandwidth and storage, your website will no longer be available to your visitors. That’s why, before you settle for free or paid web hosting, you need to consider the requirements for your website.
Uptime is the amount of time your host’s server is running. With a paid web hosting, uptime is guaranteed. In other words, you can rely on their servers to stay online without the fear of going offline, unlike with free hosting. You see, paid hosts perform regular maintenance on their servers as well as software upgrades to prevent downtimes. In turn, this ensures that your business stays online. With free hosting, there are no such guarantees. Plus, your account can be terminated anytime without cause or explanation from the company.
Running a website is not a simple task and when something happens, you need a quick response from technical support. That’s where free website hosting can be disappointing. Thing is, they may offer some form of assistance, which can be limited and insufficient. Plus, you might have to wait 24-48 hours for a response and that’s not something you want for your online business. Keep in mind that with free hosting, you're being offered services free of charge. So, the company doesn't owe you anything and you can’t expect a quick response from them. However, things are different with paid providers since you pay for their services, hence you deserve all the assistance you need, whenever you need it.
You can't expect top-level security for your website from a free host since they won't put much effort into services that offer no returns. Considering the risk of malware attacks and theft of confidential data, you wouldn’t want to risk running a website with a low level of security, especially if it’s an e-commerce one that contains customers’ credit card details. Hackers are known to target free hosts and infect their systems with malware since they are easy targets.
The speed at which your website loads has a direct impact on the overall experience of visitors when using your website. It goes without saying that a website that takes ages to load will not go well with your visitors and chances that they will wait for the pages to load are slim. That said, you need a website that loads fast and without downtimes. That’s what you get with paid hosts. This doesn’t mean that free providers don’t offer faster speeds. However, most of them use a shared platform where they pack many websites onto one server to reduce overall costs. The problem starts when one website experiences a spike in traffic, meaning that your website together with others on the same platform will suffer. While some paid hosts also use shared platforms, they are well controlled and maintained to prevent speed issues.
This is probably one of the major drawbacks of using free website hosting services. Since they are not making money for the free services, they will find a way to make some, and that's where advertisements come in. And to make matters worse, these ads won't be related to your website and some may seem spammy. Keep in mind that, whenever your visitors click on these ads, the profits go directly to the provider and not you. With that in mind, if you have a business website or want to build a personal brand, ads will ruin your visitors' experience by distracting them from your message. Thus, a paid website hosting will be your best choice.
Undoubtedly, paid web hosting comes with many benefits compared to free web hosting. If its reliability, speed, control, security, unique branding, 24/7 customer service, and a load of other features is what you're looking for, then paid website hosting is highly recommended. However, if you’re into personal blogging or just for fun, then you will have no problem with free website hosting. Lastly, paid web hosting is not as expensive as you might think with some plans starting at $3 per month.
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