The first step to launching an online business is choosing a platform for your website. Doing a simple Google search you will find out that there are many options. And one of the decisions you will need to make is to choose between paid hosting and free hosting.
Paid web hosting may cost you some money, but it also comes with several benefits. In general, paid hosting services can help you grow your business faster and reach new customers.
However, if you’re just starting and trying to keep costs as low as possible and also do some testing, free web hosting can be a good choice.
It won’t impact the growth of your business in the long run, but it will save you some money. This article will explain the main differences between free and paid web hosting services and help you decide which one is better suited for your business needs.
1 – Host Brand In The Domain Name
Usually, when creating a website for your business, you want to use it to promote your brand. That is why most of the domains have the company name in them. When you hire a paid host, the service will always allow using your custom domain.
However, to promote their brand, some companies that offer free web hosting will use your site as a way. For example, your free host domain can follow this structure yourcompany.hostingcompany.net. It doesn’t sound very professional, right?
This can make it difficult to express your brand to your visitors clearly and consistently. It can be problematic for visitors who have trouble remembering your website’s URL, and it makes it more difficult for them to see your website as having a distinct identity.
It is worth mentioning that most of the free hosting will be using this domain name approach, but not all of them. There are a couple of free services that will allow using your custom domain name.
2 – Ads on your page
Another big drawback of using a free host is that in other to promote their hosting brand, they will insert a couple of advertisements on your website.
In addition to having no control over what is offered on your website, you will also earn no money from the advertisements. Normally the ads will be shown something like this: “This website was built with XYZ host, click here to know more”.
In addition to making your website appear a little messy and not too professional, advertisements can distract website users from your content.
When paying for a host, you will have control of everything that appears on the website pages, so you don’t need to worry about having ads.
3 – Page Loading Speed
Nowadays the loading speed of a website is one of the most important keys to your customer having a good experience. When your page is slow not only do they frustrate visitors, but it can also hurt your Google SEO.
That’s because Google takes page loading speed into account when ranking websites. So if your site is slow, you’re likely to be penalized in the search results. Google use to say that, “53% of mobile site visitors will quit if a page takes longer than three seconds to load”.
That’s one of the problems of hiring free hosting, usually, your site won’t be using a dedicated server, you will be sharing the same server with many other websites, which will make the loading of your pages a little bit slower.
For paid hosting, you can obtain a service known as “Dedicated host,” which, as the name implies, is a host type where you have an exclusive server for your website, consequently speeding up page load speed.
4 – Customer Support
When searching for a free web host, you should also take into consideration the quality of the customer service that the host provides.
You will most likely be too busy to address technical issues that prevent you from continuing to expand your business. Because they are the ones in charge of their service, they are the experts and can provide you with simple assistance if you need it.
When compared to a paid hosting service, a free hosting service typically offers slightly lower quality customer service.
Another thing to consider is that the majority of free service customer support is supplied by email with slow responses, whereas the majority of commercial services offer real-time chats or phone contact that is available 24/7.
5 – Useful Features
Another important topic when hiring a hosting service is the “extra features” that the service can offer. If you don’t have technical knowledge, it can be hard to install new modules by yourself.
To try to help the user, the host services usually provide at least basic “Script installers” on your control panel to help you create your website to things like installing WordPress be easily done.
Other tools will provide their builder, like Wix, where you don’t have to install anything to start using it.
Paid hosting, however, includes more robust features like automated backups, website analytics, social media helpers, search engine optimization (SEO) validation, e-commerces, backup tool, etc.
Most of the things that paid services provide to you can be learned and applied manually by the user, so it’s not an essential item.
6 – Disk Space
Consider disk space in the same manner as hard drive storage for your phone or computer. You will pay your web server for the disk space that holds all of your website’s content.
Although cloud storage expands more easily than on your computer (you won’t have to replace a hard drive to gain extra space) you must still ensure that you have sufficient disk space to host your website.
It’s a little bit hard to define what is gonna be the size of your complete website, this depends on a lot of factors like which CMS or platform you are going to be using, what is the type of your website, and how many pages it will have.
In general, for a simple and common new website, 1GB is more than enough. However, if you plan to have a blog with more than hundreds of pages, you will want at least 3GB
When talking about free website hosting, usually they offer from 500MB to 2GB, so depending on your website purpose, a free host can provide more than enough.
7 – Website Security
Almost every website on the internet is vulnerable to hacking.Cybercriminals are continuously searching for weaknesses in websites that they can attack to compromise them.
Websites are being hacked to steal money, transmit malware, obtain sensitive information, etc., as hacking efforts are becoming more often.
Talking about free hosting, most of them will lack powerful security measures, and also will prevent you from installing security certificates to safeguard your data and the data of your visitors.
In terms of your website security probably a paid host service is a much better choice. In addition, usually, free hosting also doesn’t provide backup services, which makes it hard to restore your website in the event of data loss.
After going over all the essentials of a hosting service, we can say that free web hosting may be sufficient for those who are just interested in creating basic websites for personal use, starting a very tiny business, or sharing information with close colleagues.
With that said, a premium web hosting plan is the preferable option for those who intend to build a real business and scale to become online retailers, bloggers, and anybody intending to generate money off their site in the future, or who simply want their website to have room to develop.