8+ Drawbacks to Free Web Hosting

by John Hoff on February 4, 2008

Being that I am partners in a web hosting company, I frequently surf through online forums replying to people’s hosting questions. Of all the questions I answer, I see one that appears over and over again:

What are the drawbacks of free web hosting?

1. Bottlenecks

  • Free hosting accounts typically are packed onto 1 server with lots of other free hosting accounts. This clog of websites severely slows down the server with each one fighting for CPU time. Results: Your site may work slow and go offline from time to time.

2. Low Bandwidth and Limited Disk Space

  • You usually get 1-3GB of bandwidth with free hosting accounts. This translates to a site designed for very little traffic coming to it. If there is a lot of traffic coming to it (or another on your sever) your site may go down. Also, disk space is usually measured in megabytes (50-100mb). That’s basically enough space for a few pics and some text.

3. Lack Of Tools

  • Free hosting accounts are limited with the tools you are provided with and can use. Many don’t even allow FTP capabilities (which I could not live without). You usually won’t have the ability to run PHP scripts or have a database which translates to no blog, no forum, no good “contact me” form, etc. on your site.

4. Ads

  • You usually have to display banner ads on your site. Nothing is better than creating a nice website for yourself and flashing annoying banner ads at your visitors!

5. Little Support

  • You usually have to wait extended periods of time for any customer service help. Paid customers get first help.

6. No Personalized Domain Name

  • Usually you are not able to obtain your own domain name (e.g. no www.my-site.com). You are forced to use either a subdomain of your host or a directory (e.g. www.geocities.com/my-site). This translates to bad SEO (search engine optimization) because it’s geocities that’s getting indexed, not your own personal site.

7. Bad SEO (search engine optimization)

  • You may have a hard time getting search engines to index your site well.

8. No Personalized Email

  • Many free hosting accounts don’t give you an email account. So no “[email protected]

*Bonus Tip #1 (Lost Contacts) – Imagine you decided to save less than $100 a year to go with free web hosting. Then one day a year later you realize that you have outgrown your free account and now it’s time to upgrade to a normal hosting account.

Oops . . . guess what?

For that entire year you spent attracting visitors, customers, and friends who have all bookmarked your website, it’s all lost. 80-90% of them will lose contact with you once you change domain names.

*Bonus Tip #2 (Undoing Your SEO) – For those of you who try to build a site that gets indexed well by Yahoo and Google, one of the most important things you can do is attract incoming links to your website.

Imagine you spend a year or so networking online and people link to you. This will help search engines find your website better.

The day you decide to switch to a real hosting account, you’ll lose all those incoming links to your website you spent a year attracting.

You have to start all over again.

Does free web hosting still feel attractive?

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