Web Site Hosting For Your Business – Free or Paid?
It’s time to choose! Should you spend some money to get a web hosting solution for your business or get one for free?
Yes, the big moment has finally arrived. Your business is now on the verge of taking the next step forward. It will establish a web presence. This is an important step as from now on your business is able to reach more customers, is able to get more exposure, and hopefully enjoy online recognition.
Space, bandwidth and domain name all come with a cost, but there is a possibility to get them all for free. Resource management principles will probably tell you to choose the free solution.
Nowadays the cost for web hosting services has a very reasonable reason partially because of the technological progress, partially because of the stiff competition on the web hosting market.
Still… why pay for it when you can get it for free?
Free web hosting
Dozens, even hundreds of free web hosting providers offer their services on the Internet. Could there be one that meets the needs for your business? Hardly, if any.
Please let me state clearly that this article is not intended to attack or discredit hosts or advertisers. It’s only purpose is to assess and understand how can be best met the hosting needs of a business. Any business. And yes, in spite of everything stated here, even the author of this article has resorted at some point in time to the services of free web hosts!
You probably learned too, and at a very small age, that in life everything comes with a price. However, there it is … allover the Internet: Free Web Hosting.
Nothing in this world is free. So how comes there even is free web hosting?
The definition of the term “free” according to The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, states gives the following definition for the term free:
adj. not subject to external restraints or domination; not captive, at liberty; not having to be paid for; unhampered; open to all without restrictions; etc.
adv. without expense; without penalty
v.t. to release from constraint, set free
Therefore a literally free hosting service would mean no restraints, no expenses and no restrictions for the user. Webmasters would design with only limited by their imagination and skills. All the space and the bandwidth you would possibly ask for at no cost whatsoever. Real-life scenario? Could anyone really think so?
Indeed nothing in this world comes without price. Even it is not apparent. And the price you must pay for free web hosting comes in many forms, as free web hosting providers must pay too for bandwidth, not to mention other costs.
While some free web hosts require you to have one on their banners on your web site, others place pop up adds, or flashing advertising messages. So it’s free for you as long as you fulfill their set of requirements and meet their conditions. In addition to this, you should consider that host’s service is free with let’s say 25 Megs of space; more space means different conditions and you could have to pay for it.
Paid web hosting
If you are billed, it means you own something. There is now a contractual bind between you and your web-hosting provider, which in turn must offer you his services. Ownership gives you more control of your online presence. Important as ownership is, it is neither the only nor the biggest advantage of paying for your hosting solution.
The identity of your business would be clear from your URL down to your web content without banners confusing your customers. Imagine that you deal with What I would say, is ask yourself if you would deal with someone offering a similar service/ product as you are promoting, who was obviously using a free site. If you would, then fine, but if not, don’t expect anyone else to deal with you!
You will have usually sufficient e-mail addresses to accommodate the needs of your business. How serious would you take someone who hands you a business card with e-mail like firstname.lastname@example.org. And more important: would you do business with him?
It’s almost a standard for paid web hosting providers to offer features like PHP and MySQL, features that allow your site to grow along with your business needs. With such features you can easily have an online store, offer your customers the possibility to track their orders etc.
Often the web hosting provider offers guarantees for the uptime of the server, and this avoids unnecessary frustration for your customers. To complement this, support services of higher quality allow your business to overcome possible technical problems easier and faster.
Let’s review the main points of each option.
Free web hosting:
(+) It’s free. No money for space, bandwidth and domain name
(-) Your URL will contain the mark of the free web-hosting provider and thus would not reflect the identity of your business. Changing providers might result in loosing some or all the traffic to your online business
(-) Required advertising items such as banners, frames etc have a detrimental effect on your content in terms of accessibility and look, making it very unprofessional
(-) If you plan to use banner exchange on your site read carefully their Terms and conditions. Some free hosts doesn’t allow it
(-) You will probably have lower bandwidth then a paid host provides and space could also be restricted
(-) Features like PHP and MySQL are rather rare for a free web-hosting provider. Some don’t offer FTP access to your website
(-) It’s common that free hosting providers change their Terms and conditions at some point in time. Consider that no adds today could mean a banner or a popup tomorrow. Such changes could mean that the free hosting service is canceled and only paid web hosting services are offered. At this moment either you pay, either you loose your web site
Paid web hosting:
(-) You will have to pay for it. Usually you have to pay for hosting (space and bandwidth) and for the domain name
(+) You can host your own domain. With your unique domain name changing web hosting providers don’t cause loosing your traffic
(+) Support is offered by most paid web hosting providers. This usually means 24/7 support via email or live chat and, in some cases, toll-free phone support is available
(+) The uptime of the server(s) hosting your web site is better then on free host and more and more frequently the web hosting provider offers uptime guarantee
(+) The amount of enough disk space and bandwidth available is very likely to cover the needs of your business
(+) Features like PHP and MySQL are almost standard for a paid hosting plan. Also you will have FTP access to your website.
It could be tempting to embrace the idea that a free web hosting is good point to start from, but it’s not something you would want to consider if you are looking to establish your business as a serious web presence.
In the end it all comes down to this one question: How big ambitions do you have with your website?
If you look to make some savings while getting your business online, save time instead and register a domain name. The small amount of money saved on web hosting might cost your business customers, and a loss of image. The cost of a paid web hosting solution is small compared with freedom it gives to your online presence. Yes, freedom of your image, of the way you treat your online presence.
If your online business is important to you, better make that if you care for it at all, when coming to the decision of opting over free or paid web hosing choose
Keep in mind that the success of your online presence will play a significant role in the future growth of your business.