Are you a cash-strapped startup, freelancer, or a small business in search of the best web hosting services for your site?
Worried that you will not meet your goals because of the high cost of premium web hosting?
Get free web hosting.
While general opinion has it that most (if not all) free services are disastrous, there are a few pretty reliable web hosting service providers you could try.
These service providers provide reliable hosting services in packages that fit individuals and businesses.
But, there is one catch: you cannot pick the first web hosting service provider of the free isle without looking at what they offer and how their features will help your business.
Like the web hosting providers that are paid for, there are specific things you should check before you sign up for their services.
You need to realize that in as much as the free web hosting provider saves you money and time or that you don’t have to sign any contracts, the service provider could pull out their services at any time.
Their services might also fall short of your expectations.
Therefore, you need to evaluate what is in the free package before you get started.
The essential considerations include:
1. Your Hosting Needs
Before you choose free hosting, you need first to determine the exact needs of your website, the type of platform you will run your website or blog on, and whether or not you require specific software applications.
The traffic you anticipate is also a great guide with hosting service providers like Wix capable of handling lots of traffic.
Some of the free web hosting providers feature functionalities for online stores and they also provide hundreds of very attractive web templates.
And speaking of templates, you should also check whether or not the web hosting provider will allow you to modify and customize your site to match your brand.
2. The Web Hosting Server and Reliability/ Server Uptime
This is a critical factor when it comes to the choice of free web hosting you take.
You need to make sure that the service provider operates 24/7 for them to support the availability and the accessibility of your website on the internet throughout.
Even with the free service, the web hosting service provider must guarantee you an uptime of at least 99.5 percent.
Anything below 99 percent is not recommended, especially because websites hosted on weak servers or the ones with unstable network connections could easily push your website off the internet.
Unstable networks or weak servers would also deny you sales/ viewership, not to mention putting you at risk of ranking low on search engines.
The other elements of the server you should review include whether or not you will get daily backups, the presence/ absence of RAID storage protection, and the bandwidth you receive.
You need to make sure that the web host will not blame the ‘Free’ thing when they are unreachable.
For this, you need to make sure that the web host puts in place cautionary measures to keep website and email access downtime to a minimum.
Some of the cautionary measures include having redundant software, an onsite backup supply of power, 24/7 server and network monitoring, as well as network configurations.
3. Customer support
It doesn’t matter if the web hosting service is free or paid for, the provider must offer the best customer support services.
You must access the service provider via live chat, phone, ticketing system, email or any other means.
Efficient customer support services tell you that the web hosting provider has your back.
At the same time, the company should offer access to resources including training materials.
You should also look out for companies with a high social media presence and prioritize the companies with in-house customer services departments.
For better insights into a company’s customer support services, look at the reviews on the site and also the reviews from experts.
The internet is full of these.
4. Storage Space
The running of your website relies on the storage space you get on the web host’s servers.
While most of the companies that provide free web hosting tend to limit storage, others provide ample storage space.
For example, Wix only gives 500MB storage while WordPress will give you as much as 3GB storage space.
Others will offer only 20MB of storage and others 1GB.
What this means is that your choice of web hosting provider depends on your hosting needs.
5. Disk space and bandwidth
If you are lucky, you might find a free web host offering unlimited disk space as well as monthly transfers.
Unfortunately, most free web hosting providers limit the disk space and bandwidth.
Note that the bandwidth is the amount of space needed to access and leave your website.
In other words, access refers to the space required whenever a visitor searches for your website on a browser, while leave represents the space used whenever a visitor gets something from a website for example when someone downloads a file or listens to an audio file.
What this means is this: if your website has a huge collection of graphics or photos, you will need higher bandwidth and even more storage space.
When selecting a free web hosting service provider, you receive a predetermined amount of bandwidth and storage space which you will use for images, videos, text storage, as well as website files.
These should meet your website’s requirements.
6. Site Backups
The increase in cyber threats means an increased need for safe backups.
Your web hosting provider should offer daily and weekly data backups.
7. Strings attached
Is the company offering free web hosting in exchange for permission to displays ads on your site?
Will you be required to upgrade to paid plan months down the line?
Do you have to pay for the best themes?
Looking at these seemingly small bottlenecks will help you make the right decision in regards to the web host you choose.
Checking for strings attached, especially the ones that involve the display of ads is crucial because most of the web hosts offering free service look to earn from displaying ads.
So, while the display of ads is rather uncommon, some of the web hosts make running an exclusive feature.
8. Administrative and Control Features
The free web hosting plan offered should have all the features necessary for the control of your website from the backend.
The features you should look out for include: the control panel, MySQL and PHP databases/support, FTF account manager, file manager, and free tech support.
You should also look out for features like the availability of unlimited domain add-ons, the presence of clustered servers; there should be no ads to be displayed, parked domains, subdomains, as well as communities like forums.
You also need to check the features of the control panel that you can access.
These features include but aren’t limited to the number of free scripts auto-installers, hotlink protection provided, and web templates.
You also need to ensure that you can access the multi-language support and he IP-deny support.
Can you upgrade your hosting plan to a higher one when the time comes?
Most web hosting service providers will allow you to choose from dedicated hosting, shared hosting or VPS hosting when you wish to upgrade to meet your business’ growing needs.
10. Free Email
When choosing your free web hosting service provider, you must confirm that among the services they offer, email services are provided.
The email services include email set up from your site’s domain name.
You also need to ensure that the service provider offers a webmail interface with POP3 and SMTP access.
These accesses will allow you to set up and to access the domain emails from your mobile devices.
11. FTP / Website Creator
Most of the web hosting service providers you come across will also provide free website creation tools/ apps.
The apps allow for fast creation of websites where you select a template or even add your own text and images.
For all these, you need FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
FTP provides for the transfer of web files from your computer to the web host’s server.
You also need FTP to download files from the web hosting service provider’s server to your computer.
Therefore, you need to make sure that the service provider offers you unlimited access to their FTP.
The security of your website is essential when it comes to choosing a web hosting provider.
Since most of the free web hosts hardly go for robust security measures, keep looking for the one that offers a satisfactory level of security.
The web hosting provider must protect you from intrusion by availing strong firewalls, reliable backups, and they should also monitor the network to protect your website against malware.
The best web hosting provider offers hosting services with an easy-to-use SSL. SSL refers to the small software security allowing websites to encrypt the data sent to the server from the browser.
These sites start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. All you need to do is to ensure that the web hosting provider gives you an SSL certificate.
And there you have it – everything you need to look for in a free web hosting.
These features are a great benchmark for your website as you work on upgrading to the premium services.