Benefits of free web hosting services

By | July 15, 2007

If you’re short of cash, but would still like to get a feel of how to run your very own website, then I would whole heartedly recommend you get a free web hosting service. There is also a deeper reason why you would go for free web hosting which I’ll explain later.

Back about a few years ago, free hosting was very limited in quantity and quality, but not these days. In fact, with the profusion of cheap reseller accounts being offered by many web hosts nowadays, it’s possible for anyone who owns a reseller account to actually offer free hosting. There are even some folks with dedicated servers offering – free hosting.

So why do they do that? Two of the reasons I can think of as to why they would offer free hosting are:

  • Publicity via banners which you usually have to display on your site in return
  • Pre-selling for any current or future services/products

Now why would you want to bother signing up for their free hosting? I guess those offering it just hope that some people may actually sign up for a paid plan when they see how good/fast the servers are.

If you’re just new to the world of running and self-managing a site of your own (with own domain) then a free host will certainly help you learn the ropes fast. Stuff like changing the DNS, uploading files via FTP, designing, and virtually all the other website stuff are learnt through on-the-fly practice, without paying a dime. Of course, support is usually absent when you run into trouble, but by browsing blogs and asking questions in the forums, you will learn eventually. Then when it’s time to move to a paid host, you’re ready to not waste any time on your paid hosting.

The real benefit for the experienced webmasters though, is that you can use your free hosted sites as supportive sites to back up your own sites that you may have on paid hosting. Many free hosts do not allow you to run our sites as commercial ventures. They also come with advertisements which are required to be displayed. So, tell me what are they best used for then?

For example, a well known free PHP enabled hosts out there is Awardspace. This host offers bannerless free php and mysql hosting plus free subdomains. The server speed is generally reasonably fast and they even have a busy forum dedicated to addressing the issues/problems you may face. I’ve previously installed Joomla on their servers and it runs fine.

You cannot really use their free hosting to run real ecommerce sites, because they have a large list of forbidden words that can get your site suspended in an instant (think money/warez/adult/gambling keywords); but what you can do is create a site and put in some text links pointing to your main site(s). Just putting up a decent basic page or website doesn’t take very long, and then you can start to point a few links towards your other sites. Not only that, you can get any spare domains you have – indexed in the search engines just by putting pages or sites on them, using the free hosting you have. A great way to have them indexed, and build a few backlinks to your other sites along the way (all on a different Class C IP, by the way).

Just make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. Each free host has their own peculiarities. Some just fold up in a short while without informing you. Which is why, you only use free hosting to do practice websites or sites which you won’t bother losing. I certainly think self managed free hosting has good benefits which have largely gone unnoticed by the majority of webmasters.

So, care to give free hosting a try?

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