Top 5 Free Web Hosting Providers
In the competitive, cut-throat world of web hosting, when someone says free, you look at them suspiciously, and not without reason. After all, if you have dealt with websites for a while, you are probably all too aware of the hidden costs with websites that pop up after a few months of a particular “free” service.
Though, the lure of a free web hosting service could be strong if you are all but struggling to maintain and manage your website and want to take up any opportunity that will save you a few dollars. Naturally, an option to run the website 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, but the restrictions on usage, bandwidth or disk space would be such that operating the website would be frustrating.
Some hosts will offer you free services, but in return you would often have to bear with their ads (which could be of a very embarrassing nature sometimes). Some of these websites will tell you that upfront, while others will too, but in a finer print. If you were to Google “best web hosting for free”, you are likely to come across more of the latter kind.
So which of them is the best free web hosting provider? Let’s find out.
Created in 2002, Hostinger’s 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 their users complete online freedom.
The platform is described as the most used by starter developers around the world and “equipped with tools” to “conquer the internet”.
Technically, they are not free, but they almost are. But at $0.80, their shared hosting plan is one of the most cheap web hosting options to create your online presence and if you take into account their 30 days money back guarantee. So this is what their most basic plan offers:
So, 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 it. These are great features for a plan that costs you less than a coffee! Besides, as and when your business grows and you are in need of more resources, you can upgrade this plan for unlimited bandwidth, SSD space, websites, MySQL databases, email accounts, 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. But it is a minor grouch when you compare the host of features you get for the rock-bottom price of $0.80!
2. 000Webhost - Most Popular Free Hosting
000Webhost started operations in 2007 with an aim to provide free website hosting for everyone, and since then has emerged as a favorite in the budget-hunter community. Its parent company is Hostinger, and takes pride in providing services with absolutely no hidden costs and zero advertising, unlike a number of other providers.
The company’s very active forum has categories such as tutorials (over a 100 topics such as tracking visitors, securing a WordPress site, adding comments to your website and so on), community support, website building and site showcase, among many others. 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 and the website has a very clean, easy-to-use interface. The no-advertisement policy is a major plus as well, where 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 when a server comprising their database was hacked. This resulted in 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 and about any 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 website 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 respectively, which is nearly not enough to achieve much. Still, they are one of the few providers that offer free web hosting with no ads whatsoever so you can create a website and test them out very easily.
This is a new entrant in the market, with just 200,000 customers to its claim. They may have a small client base, but they have made a name for themselves by offering a number of features for 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 hosting platform that offers free services.
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 providers. Their free SSL is a real catch, because even some paid services out there do not offer this!
Are there any limitations?
Users who have been attracted by the unlimited bandwidth and disk space do not realize that there are some 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 their websites hosted by this provider.
They can also suspend or terminate a user account if they “consume excessive server resources” and if it affects a clustered or shared hosting server. They also reserve the right to suspend the service without any prior notice.
The company claims that it has been around for the last decade and knows how to provide a high-performance and stable hosting environment; one that is not a fly-by-night operation. 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 a 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 account)
- cPanel control panel
- Upload options through FTP and browser
- Website builder
The company does not provide any form of backups, and they are the sole responsibility of the user (they do offer it, but take no responsibility of 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 even going ahead and terming them “incompetent”. We would suggest you approach this one with thorough research and caution.
This 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 kitty such as shared, WordPress, semi-dedicated, VPS hosting and free reseller hosting among with a host of other services. But one of their better-known services remains the 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 and 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.
What are the limitations?
For starters, just 1GB of disk space and 5GB of bandwidth is not going to last anyone very long in the present times. What it really means is that you can 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.
Why Should You Avoid Free Hosting Providers
Even though we have listed some of the best free web hosting services, it should be pretty evident from their features that most of their services leave a lot to be desired, and the end result is, but a shadow of their paid, premium services.
Quite a few users have also complained that some of these companies tend to completely remove your website without any warning, leaving you hanging. So where does that leave you if you have been looking for low-cost (preferably free) alternatives?
Conclusion - What Should I Do?
Because of the tough competition and the number of players on the market, any hosting company these days is offering more and more competitive prices and features, and it is possible to get the best possible deal for the money you want to spend.
With so many players and attractive pricing, it is easy to secure up to 3 years of web hosting without spending thousands of dollars, and within a $100 budget.