2020’s Best Free Web Hosting Providers
In the competitive, cut-throat world of website hosting, when someone says free, you look at them suspiciously. After all, if you have dealt with websites for a while, you are probably aware of the hidden costs with sites that pop up after a few months of a particular “free” service.
The lure of a free web hosting service could be strong. If you are struggling to maintain your site, you would want to take up any opportunity that will save you a few dollars. Naturally, an option to run the site entirely for free sounds very attractive.
But, as we said, things are not exactly as simple as they sound. Quite a few of the providers will offer you a “free” solution. However, the restrictions on usage, bandwidth, or disk space would be such that operating the site would be frustrating.
Why do Providers Offer Free Web Hosting?
It's essential to tackle this question. Hosting a website requires a lot of costs. These costs include electricity, bandwidth, and disk space. So why do website hosts offer web hosting for free? Here are some of the reasons:
1. Their Website Hosting Services Run Ads
Since they are offering the hosting for free, they make up for all the costs through advertising. They could bombard your site with ads.
These ads from other brands pay for all their hosting and marketing costs. You should already expect ads not just in hosting sites, but other apps and websites as well.
On the other hand, some free host providers don't have ads. That could be too good to be true, so you better check their terms and conditions properly. Look for loopholes or hidden charges that might occur, especially if the provider asks for your credit card details.
2. Free Web Hosting Sites Use it Marketing and Promotion
Many web hosting providers offer free or almost free hosting as part of Marketing and promotion. Limited bandwidth, storage, or subdomains are their takeaways. However, they are upselling additional features that you might need in the long run.
Usually, they offer upgrade features like a custom domain name that you can buy cheaper at websites selling domains. However, you'll be forced to buy from these web host sites because you're using most of their features for free.
3. They Need Users to Test their Products and Services.
Like online games where there are beta testings, web hosting sites offer free hosting to test if their product works. Keep in mind that your user experience may not be as perfect as when their product has already launched. You, as a user, are also a part of their web hosting test.
4. It's a Part of their Strategy.
Some web hosts give away free hosting as part of their business strategy. Many of them have separate websites that are either 100% free, freemium, or completely paid.
The Types of Websites That Can Survive With Free Hosting
There are a lot of personal blogs or online journals that are made for a few readers or even none. Personal blogs are even created without post consistency monetization in mind. That's why it will be a waste of money if many personal blog sites don't settle for a free website.
It would also be easy for personal bloggers to use a website builder on a free site. However, it would be nice if they have a custom domain instead of a free domain.
NonProfit sites of organizations that are still starting out may avail of a free website hosting especially if there is no crowdfunding involved. They may use the site for their announcements or blogs. While it is suggested that they get a free plan, getting a customized domain name is better for their organization.
Professionals who are looking to put their portfolio online may take advantage of a free portfolio website and a free domain. Since it's just for portfolio purposes, they would waste money if they go for a paid and shared hosting. In fact, most of the best free or almost free web hosts have a lot of web designs for portfolios.
While a lot of business owners prefer to have their brochure sites on shared hosting, they can benefit from a free plan. They could just get a custom domain name and all their business info is good to go. They don't need unlimited bandwidth and storage for it.
The Types of Websites that are Better Off with Paid Hosting
When starting an online business, having Ecommerce sites or a custom domain name shows potential customers that you are professional and legitimate. More importantly, a free web hosts' limited support, bandwidth, email accounts, etc. also limits your business. A part of a business is expansion, and 100% free web hosting would not let you expand further.
There is a lot of money involved in Crowdfunding websites. Aside from that, it's better if people can log-in, create email accounts, and donate within the site. Hence, they will be more functional if they avail of shared hosting with unlimited features.
Media and Current Affairs
Most media and current affairs websites have a lot of people in their teams. In a day, they would have to report a lot of news stories on the site. A free web hosting's limited space is not enough.
Apart from that, most free web hosting doesn't allow your ads to appear on the free website. Like most free hosting sites, media companies need ads and sponsors to survive. Hence, media websites and free hosting are a terrible match.
Learning is an infinite thing. Free web hosting has limited storage and bandwidth. You would need more of these to complete and expand all your teaching and substantial learning materials in an Educational site.
The Best Free Web Hosting Providers
There are many free hosting for websites that give free services in exchange for Ads, Marketing, and Testing. However, a few free web hosts are both good and true.
They are not some of the most popular ones, but they sincerely give users a lot of value. Read on for the best free website providers and see what they're all about.
Created in 2002, Hostinger is one of the best shared hosting sites in cyberspace. Its primary idea was to let people create free websites, and they have somewhat succeeded in that.
The Cyprus-based company has over 29 million users in 178 countries and claim that they get more than 15,000 sign ups every single day! The company has a no-ad policy and offers unlimited MySQL, PHP, and cPanel, giving its users complete online freedom.
The platform is described as the most used by start-up developers around the world. It is equipped with essential tools to conquer the internet. Their website builder has almost unlimited offerings and support.
Technically, they are just an almost free website. But at $0.80, their shared hosting plan is one of the cheapest web hosting options to create their own site. If you take into account their 30 days money-back guarantee, they are certainly one of the best.
This is what $0.80 (per month) gets you:
- 10GB SSD space
- 100GB bandwidth
- 1 MySQL database
- 1 website
- 1 email account
- 99.9% uptime guarantee (monitored 24/7 by a team of experts and admins)
- 24/7/365 customer support that is one of the best in the industry
- Unlimited parked domain names
- Weekly backups
- 1-click installer to take care of WordPress and other CMS
- A powerful control panel (cPanel hosting)
- A great Site builder
Sounds awesome? Well, it sure is. These are great features for a plan that costs you less than a coffee! Besides, as your business grows, you'll need more resources.
You can upgrade this plan for unlimited bandwidth, SSD space, websites, MySQL databases, email accounts. Upgrade twice the memory and processing power for just $1.35 more!
Unlike a majority of their competitors, Hostinger does not use the ever-popular cPanel, but a customized version of the same, which they call hPanel. So if you have used cPanel in the past, you may be in for a minor surprise. Still, it's a minor grouch when you compare the host of features you get for the rock-bottom price of $0.80!
000Webhost - Most Popular Free Hosting
000Webhost started operations in 2007 with an aim to provide free website hosting for everyone. Since then it has emerged as a favorite in the budget-hunter community. Its parent company is Hostinger. They take pride in providing services with absolutely no hidden costs and zero advertising.
The company’s very active forum has a lot of tutorials. It covers over 100 topics such as tracking visitors, securing a WordPress site, adding comments to your site. The forum has Spanish and German versions as well.
The company uses the same marketing motto of its parent company, “Zero cost web hosting with PHP, MySQL, cPanel, and no ads!”
This is what 000Webhost includes in their no-cost plan:
- 2 Websites
- Limited 1GB space
- 10GB Bandwidth
- Free website builder (with 100s of free templates)
- Almost unrestricted PHP support
- Monthly data backups
- FTP support
- MySQL databases
- Instant activation
- Password-protected directories
- WordPress hosting and other services
Apart from these features, customers have reported that the speeds are generally good with this provider. The site has a very clean, easy-to-use interface. The no-advertisement policy is a major plus as well. Users can put up their own advertisements rather than supporting a third party.
We must bring it to the reader’s attention that in October 2015, the company suffered a major security breach. Its server comprising its database was hacked.
This resulted in the theft of information of over 13.5 million clients. The company moved quickly to plug the leak and blamed it on outdated software.
The company maintains a page explaining exactly what happened. It informed the people about the security measures they have taken to prevent it from happening again.
The free service does not include live support, email service, or backups. Another major drawback of this free service is that every website hosted on this platform gets 1 hour of “sleep time”.
What this means is that your site would not be reachable to the public at this hour. The saving grace is that you can set the sleep time yourself so it is not random.
One more major drawback would be that the bandwidth and disk space is limited to a mere 10 GB and 1GB. That's not enough to achieve much. Still, they are one of the few providers that offer free web hosting with no ads. You can create a website and test them out very easily.
Infinity free is a new entrant in the market, with just 200,000 customers to its claim. Despite having a small client base, they have made a name for themselves, which makes them one of the best.
That's because they offered almost unlimited advantages to their free plan. If you look for their name, you will find that there are mixed reviews about their service, but that is expected of any platform that offers web for free.
They say that they have kept their prices low by developing a unique cloud hosting solution using which they can host a lot more accounts per server than while using traditional hosting software, without affecting the speed.
Another reason, they say is that the service is entirely supported by a community. By doing so and not hiring a help desk that would have cost them extra, the most common questions can be answered by the community.
Another way to support themselves is advertisements, and the company is pretty open about it. You can read about it in detail here.
This is what they offer in the terms of their free hosting plan:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited disk space
- 400 MySQL databases
- 10 email accounts
- Free DNS service
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- Free SSL on all websites
- Free subdomain name
- Linux 3.2
- Apache 2.4 with .htaccess
- Multiple PHP support (5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0)
- MySQL 5.6
- 91% uptime
Sounds too good to be true? Well, yes and no. In terms of offering features for no cost, Infinityfree.net scores big time here and emerges as the most generous free service provider. Their free SSL is a real catch because even some paid services out there do not offer this!
Users who have been attracted by the unlimited bandwidth and disk space do not realize that there are major restrictions when it comes to the usage of these features.
If you take a look at their terms of service, you will find some interesting use of language under the disk space usage terms and right to suspend/terminate hosting services sections. Users cannot store any backups, non-web-based content, and downloads on the websites hosted by this provider.
They can also suspend or terminate a user account if they “consume excessive server resources." They also reserve the right to suspend the service without any prior notice.
The X10 Hosting claims that it has been around for the last decade and knows how to provide a high-performance and stable hosting environment. The promise to provide you with a full hosting account that includes the latest versions of cPanel, MySQL, and PHP.
They claim that their service is powered by top-of-the-line enterprise hardware for stable and fast performance. These are their features:
- Over 300 1-click installers that include Joomla, WordPress or MyBB
- MySQL database management via PHPMyAdmin
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited disk space (initially capped at 512MB, free upgrade after 7 days of creating an account)
- cPanel control panel
- Upload options through FTP and browser
- Website builder
The company does not provide any form of backups (they do offer it, but take no responsibility for its failure). Also, accounts which are found inactive for 21 days are suspended and then removed from the servers.
Once suspended, the account holder forfeits all rights to the account. Also, if your usage is found to be “too high” by x10Hosting, they can suspend your account temporarily. These are some terms listed on their terms of service page, but users can expect even stricter restrictions in a real-life scenario.
There are also numerous complaints by furious customers, accusing the company of removing their websites and calling out their incompetence. We would suggest you approach this one with thorough research and caution.
AwardSpace is a Michigan-based company that has been around since 2003 and launched its first premium service in 2005. Cut to 2017 and the company has added many other premium services to its kitties.
These services include shared WordPress, semi-dedicated, VPS hosting, and free reseller hosting with a host of other services. But one of their better-known services remains free hosting.
They package their service that “you can truly rely on” and say that it is 100% ad-free. They provide you with a web-based file manager which lets you edit programming files such as HTML, CSS, or PHP. It also lets you upload the files for your website.
These are some of their features:
- 5GB bandwidth
- 1000MB disk space
- Instant account activation
- Full MySQL database support
- 9% uptime
- 24/7 customer support
- 1-click installer
You can also host a free domain and add up to 3 subdomains, and if you have a blog or small business, this would work out great for you.
For starters, just 1GB of disk space and 5GB of bandwidth is not going to last long. It only allows you to run a small blog which does not see too many visitors on a regular basis.
There is also the matter of the company sharing your information with third-party vendors, which would set the alarm bells ringing. You can read their terms and services in detail here.
The Best Free Web Hosting Providers for Subdomains
WordPress.org is open-source software that would require hosting. In this case, WordPress.com is the focus. WordPress.com offers free subdomains such as yourname.wordpress.com for personal bloggers. Bloggers can create their own website through the easy website builder on WordPress.
Here are what comes with the free WordPress hosting:
- Free SSL Certificate
- Community Support through forums
- Free WordPress.com Sub Domain
- Free themes
- 3GB storage
- Design Customization (basic and limited)
- Jetpack Spam Protection
- Jetpack SEO Writing Guide
WordPress.com offers hosting plans for blogs and Personal sites as well: Personal and Premium. Users can upgrade to those plans and add features to them. Some of those upgraded features are a customized domain, G Suite for customized email accounts, and unlimited premium themes.
Weebly is an easy-to-use website builder because of its drag and drop features. Users who are technologically-challenged can easily adjust to the drag and drop method of putting up the free site. That makes Weebly as one of the best free website hosts.
Despite Weebly being one of the best, its features are more limited than its competitors. They have four hosting plans available for personal bloggers as well as for businesses. For their free features, you be the judge if you approve of them:
- Drag and Drop Builder
- Free templates
- Free SSL Certificate
- Community Support through forums
- Free Weebly.com Sub Domain
- Free themes
- 500MB storage
- Chat and Email Support
- Lead Capture and Contact Forms
- SEO Writing Guide
Wix is another user-friendly website builder. Like Weebly, it also features drag and drop builder. In fact, Wix's every free feature matches Weebly, except for a few exceptions.
One is that your free site will be bombarded by ads. Another is its free domain is not very friendly, which is wixsite.com
- Drag and Drop Builder
- Free Templates
- Free SSL Certificate
- Community Support through forums
- Free Wixsite.com Sub Domain
- 500MB storage
- Email Support
Cons of Free Web Hosting
Most of the free web hosts do not have unlimited chat and email support. When you have problems, you can only rely on forums. They cannot fix your problems for you. You have to do it on your own.
In exchange for every feature that is free, like the website builder, domain, and email account, free hosting plans put ads on your website. It's aggravating, but forgivable.
The cost of the technology, space, tools, and skills needed for hosting is expensive. Putting ads on a particular free website is the only way they can make up for the expenses.
If your once-silent website becomes popular, free website hosts can benefit from all the traffic that your site is generating. All the ad revenue will go to them. Aside from that, website visitors don't like Ads. Ads can distract them and shove them away from your site.
Storage and Bandwith
All--even the best free website hosting providers offer limited storage and bandwidth. You can never get these two unlimited, even on a lot of paid website hosting. Hence, if you get free hosting, your business goals would not be met because you cannot expand both storage and bandwidth.
Aside from the ads that free web hosts bombard your website, their brand shows all over the site. That's especially evident in sites that offer a free domain. The free domain is a part of their branding, so every time you share your domain.
What happens is that your website visitors might be confused with your brand. Some might even mistake your provider's brand as your brand, especially if its name is written all over your site. How can you create your own identity as a brand if it's mixed into their brand?
PHP and MySQL
MySQL is a database in which site information is stored. As with Storage and Bandwidth, only paid web hosting sites offer unlimited MySQL databases. As with PHP, it's a programming language that is commonly used by websites.
The problem is, free web hosting sites may run on outdated or even fake PHP and MySQL versions. That is a reality even for the best free host websites out there.
When your brand is running on a free plan, your email accounts are not customized. For every business, email accounts and email hosting is important, aside from bandwidth.
If you're relying on free web hosts, your email would lack security and would encounter a lot of spams that are a distraction to your business.
Conclusion: Should You Settle for Free Web Hosting or Invest on Paid Hosting?
Based on what you've read, would you settle for any of the best free web hosting providers? Truthfully, you get limited freebies on free web hosts, but they get unlimited ads and branding on your site.
You also have to bear in mind that there are a lot of cheap paid hosting services. You can get unlimited bandwidth, storage, support from these services. You are better of paying for them if you want your business to expand.