What has my son's pet rat got to do with free hosting for a website? Read on to find out!
When starting out online and deciding where to host your website (i.e. where to “put” the files so that other Internet users can see them) you may wonder if you actually need to pay for hosting. Most small businesses wil quite naturally want to minimise costs, so is this one cost you can completely do without? In theory, yes, but let's look at the most important points in the argument.
Some will disagree with me, but I'll say right up-front that I consider free hosting a false economy if you plan to run a business online. For a hobby – fine, use free hosting, but not for a business. Why?
- It doesn't look professional! Will a customer want to trust their money to a business that can't afford paid hosting? (We're usually talking about less than $10 a month.)
- Many free hosting services will put their own adverts on, alongside yours
- The terms of service of many free companies don't allow the use of their hosting for business / profit-making purposes
I have even been asked about the viability of hosting your site on your own PC using a Linux server. In theory this is possible. My son a hardware enthusiast and is now a network support engineer for a very large network service provider. When he was at university he hosted his own website on his PC in his bedroom and I was able to view his homework (and his pet rats – don't tell the landlord) from my PC. Hence the picture – tenuous connection, but it made for an unusual image.
However he did this as a project for his IT degree, not for business purposes. Powering it 24/7, maintaining it, plus the bandwidth needed for the traffic to even a modest business would cost far more than the typical hosting company's monthly charge.
Some people will tell you they're happily running their business on free platforms such as blogger.com, wordpress.com, webs.com or 000webhost.com, so this is just my opinion.
There are companies, one is 000webhost.com, that offer a free starter pack, with the chance to upgrade to a paid service when you need to expand. This may be a suitable compromise but I've never tried them, as personally I recommend paid hosting from the outset. The choice is yours.
If you have any experience of running a business on free hosting, please comment below.