Low Cost Web Hosting
Why it's better than free hosting (really!)
Low cost web hosting services abound today. Free hosting packages are also plentiful, and look great on paper. After all, you get to have your website up and running on the internet with no financial commitment. All you need to do is create your site, sit back, and let your web hosting provider do all the work for you. There's no denying that this type of service can work for many people, but will it work for you? Let's walk you through the advantages and disadvantages and see whether you might be better off choosing a low cost web hosting package instead.
So, what is the main advantage of free hosting? Well, it's free for one thing! When you registered with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) you'll probably have been offered free web space as part of the account.
You can also find a lot of web hosting companies that will offer free space too. So, opt for this choice and you create your site (many ISPs will help you do this too via their software), upload it, and they give it a home on the web. Sound too good to be true? Well, for many people it is - and they move very quickly to a low cost hosting package instead.
A free hosting package isn't a bad option for some people. It's an okay solution for personal websites, can be used to test out your site and the response it gets, and works for some small business owners. However, before you opt for free hosting, you should take a look at whether a low cost web hosting package might better suit your needs.
The problem with free hosting is that it has limits. You may well say that low cost hosting has limits too, but it's generally not as restricting. The first issue you'll come across is space. Your free hosting provider will only offer small space for your site. You'll be limited on the number of pages you can have and the design, images, and technical packages you can use. You also have none of the uptime guarantees and support services that you'll get if you pay for a low cost web hosting service. After all, you're getting this for free, so your provider doesn't have to make any commitment to sort out problems quickly. Find yourself with slow loading times because there are too many sites on its server and too much traffic? It doesn't have to do ANYTHING about it.
Low cost web hosting packages also have another big advantage over free ones - advertisements. Opt to put your site on a free service and you'll be subject to banners, advertisements, pop-ups, and pop-unders that your free web host wants on your site. This is how the hosting provider makes the money that you aren't paying it for the service! There isn't a bigger advertisement out there to your site visitors that you're on a free package. Well, there is one bigger one... your URL. Instead of a nice and neat www.something.com, you'll have to have a URL that drills down from that of your hosting provider. Maybe you don't mind turning your neat web address into www.myisp.com/pages/something - but it might make a difference later if you choose to move to a paid service. You won't be able to take it with you and will have to start off all over again.
And, there is some evidence that search engines now treat sites with free hosting as second-class citizens in the search stakes. So, your site may not be indexed on a search, which will make it virtually invisible to the casual browser. This isn't a problem you'll have with low cost hosting. The fact is that it doesn't have to cost a lot to put your site on a reputable and cost-effective paid hosting service. You really just need to weigh up the benefits of having your site hosted free or for a few dollars a month. If you are running a business website, want more than a basic service, or anticipate any kind of regular traffic, it will be better to pay. After all, if your website looks better and works better with a low cost web hosting provider, then you'll get more out of it in the long-run.