Running a business online isn’t free, but you can save money by using a free hosting service. With the right host, you won’t spend a dime on storage, bandwidth or subdomains. So how do you know which provider to choose?
When you’re selecting a hosting provider, think about what you need today and also what you will need in the future: ideally you’ll find a host that you can stick with as your business evolves.
In this article, we’ll compare seven free hosting providers to help you make a selection for your business. Before we get started, let’s first review how free web hosting works.
Hosting can be free, but a quality website isn’t. To get your business online, you’ll need a domain, website building software (or a designer) and a host, and you’ll have to pay for at least one if you want your website to look professional.
Don’t want to spend any money? There are companies that provide free website builder platforms and hosting, but you’ll have to settle for an assigned domain, which will look something like username.freehostname.com/mybusiness. Assigned domains are clunky and difficult to remember, so they can lower the credibility of your business and dilute your brand. They aren’t a long-term solution for a serious business, but there’s nothing wrong with an assigned domain if you’re just starting out.
If you’d prefer a custom domain (which will look something like www.mybusiness.com), you’ll have to spend at least a little money.
You can buy a domain, website builder and hosting from separate providers, or you can select one company that offers everything you need to get online. Working with one company will simplify your life by streamlining the process and often makes it more affordable to get your website up and running. Working with multiple companies can cost more and be more difficult to coordinate, but it also may grant you more control.
Free hosting services often survive by running ads on websites. They also only provide basic services. In the future, you may want to upgrade to paid hosting to remove ads from your website and access additional features, storage, bandwidth, and support. That said, you can get a lot of value from the right free web host. Here’s a list of common features from free hosting providers:
You likely won’t find all of these features from one free hosting provider, so you’ll have to think about which ones matter most to your business. Now let’s compare seven free web hosting providers to help you find the best service for your business.
Who Should Choose Web.com?
Web.com is the best choice for any business that doesn’t yet have a website or business who wants to simplify the process of running their website. Why? It’s an all-in-one platform that provides everything you’ll need to create and manage your website including, crucially, free hosting. You get free hosting and a domain name when you sign up for the Web.com DIY Website Builder.
Web.com Hosting Features
Hosting from Web.com is included in a package, so you won’t face any of the restrictions that come with other free services. Hosting here is unlimited, so you’ll be set up to handle large volumes of traffic, which is ideal if you’re planning to scale your business quickly. We’ve got SiteLock and also offer additional benefits, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) assistance, Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing, social media marketing and a local business listing service. Here’s the list of hosting features we offer:
If you don’t have a website and are looking for a straightforward way to get online, Web.com is the kind of all-in-one hosting platform you need. If you already have a website and are simply looking for free hosting, keep scrolling.
Who Should Choose Wix.com?
Wix.com is the best free hosting choice for small businesses that want to build a website but don’t need a custom domain name yet.
Wix.com Hosting Features
You can only access free hosting by using the Wix.com website builder, which comes with hundreds of customizable templates, SEO tools, and apps designed to help you grow your business online.
With Wix.com, you’ll get an assigned URL (such as username.wixsite.com/websiteaddress) that displays the Wix favicon and your site will display Wix ads.
While Wix.com is probably not the best long-term solution for your business, it’s a great way to get going, especially if you don’t want to spend any money. You can get the following features for free from Wix.com:
If you want to take advantage of professional features such as your own domain name and priority support, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium plan. The cheapest of these without ads is $11 per month.
Who Should Choose WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is an excellent short-term choice for bloggers or freelance creatives who want an online portfolio and don’t mind an assigned domain or ads.
WordPress.org versus WordPress.com
Did you know that WordPress is the biggest website builder and CMS platform on the planet? It powers 33% of the internet. Most of those sites, however, are on its open source .org platform, which can be downloaded for free and installed on the servers of most hosting providers (including Web.com).
WordPress Hosting Features
WordPress offers hosting through its free web builder platform, which includes lots of themes and enough functionality to create a good looking website in minutes.
This host is extremely reputable: WordPress servers are more than capable of handling traffic and you’re unlikely to suffer any downtime, even on the free package. Plus, you don’t need to download software, pay for hosting or manage a web server.
The downside? Free hosting on WordPress.com comes with an assigned URL (mywebsite.wordpress.com) and ads. Customer support is limited and it comes with less storage or bandwidth than some of the other free hosting providers. There are also limits to how much you can customize your website because WordPress.com isn’t open source: you can’t upload plugins or customize backend code. Plus, it doesn’t offer drag-and-drop functionality, which makes it more difficult to design your site.
This is what you get when you sign up for hosting from WordPress.com:
If you’re a blogger, freelance creative or small business, WordPress.com will provide everything you need in the short-term, but you won’t want to stick with the assigned URL or on-site ads for too long.
Who Should Choose Googiehost?
Hosting is free with Googiehost, but website building and domain names are not. If you’re just starting out, Googiehost isn’t the right choice.
If you’re already online and faster web page loading times matter to you, Googiehost might be the right free host for your business. It’s one of the only free hosting providers to provide a cPanel and Cloudflare CDN to optimize for faster load times.
Googiehost Hosting Features
Googiehost is limited in terms of what you get, but as far as free hosting platforms go, it has all the standard features you need. Uptime isn’t quite at 99.99%, but it’s better than many of its competitors at this end of the market. With Googiehost you’ll get:
The company has been around since 2011 and has over 150,000 users, so it’s trustworthy. However, some of the documentation around disk space and SSL security is confusing and it’s been known to be buggy, with security errors notifying users of connections not being private. Before you sign up, please be aware of the following drawbacks of Googiehost:
Who Should Choose 000webhost?
00Webhost could be the right free host for you if you don’t need customer support. If you can live with visiting forums for support in the event of a problem, 000webhost’s free offering is a good place to get your website online.
000Webhost Hosting Features
Uptime is reliable, disk space is generous, there's cPanel, and you get to upload two websites. It’s also a good performer in terms of speed.
000Webhost is one of the biggest free hosting providers around, serving millions of users. It’s owned by Hostinger, which has a good reputation for quality hosting and comes with just about enough features for you to comfortably host your website. We say “just about enough” because there are no email accounts and you’ll need to stump up some cash for an SSL certificate and live support. You’ll also need to pay for a domain name.
Who Should Choose InfinityFree?
If you’re using a self-hosted platform like WordPress or Drupal to build your site and want reliable long-term free hosting, InfinityFree is a great free host for you.
InfinityFree Hosting Features
InfinityFree has offered free hosting for over six years, boasting over 300,000 users and an impressive line up of features. There’s no credit card required, no hidden fees and no time limits, so you don’t need to worry about being forced over to a premium package after a year.
Three things stand out with InfinityFree: a 99.9% uptime guarantee, the ability to host as many domains as you want, and access to the Softaculous Script installer, which lets you install over 400 apps including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Prestashop in a few clicks. And there are other nice touches too, such as no forced ads, a free SSL certificate, and free Cloudflare CDN.
The downside? If anything goes wrong with your hosting, you’re going to need to figure it out yourself or turn to the community forum to help, which isn’t the speediest of solutions.
Who Should Choose Byet Host?
If you want to share a portfolio or showcase your services with no immediate plans to scale or offer e-commerce, Byet Host is a quick and easy hosting solution. The fact that Byet Host offers 24/7 tech support also makes it a solid choice if you think you’ll need help with your website.
Byet Host Hosting Features
Byet Host may look simple, but it is fast. Like Infinityfree, you get to upload your files in seconds with the Softaculous Script installer and there are no ads to bother you.
The downside? There have been reports that some free websites were taken down without notice, which suggests that this host may not be the most reliable. If you need more than one FTP account, Byet Host isn’t for you.
Still not sure what free host to choose? If you need an all-in-one solution—website, hosting and domain—go for a website builder like Web.com. The hosting is free and you get your own domain. You’ll also benefit from excellent customer service and high-end features that understandably don’t come with free hosting providers. Plus, you get the benefit of a centralized monthly bill.
If all you need is hosting, test the different free options available. See which works for you. As features are limited, free packages are only ever a short-term solution. Once you’ve narrowed down some potential providers, look at their premium packages. Are there options to scale as your business grows? Are they affordable? Ideally, you want a host that will meet your evolving needs.
Bottom line? If you don’t have a website, opt for a website builder and take advantage of premium hosting. If you just need hosting, go where uptime is reliable and customer support is available.
Feature Image: Unsplash / Hi I’m Alfred
Image 1: via Web.com
Image 2: via Wix.com
Image 3: via WordPress.com
Image 4: via Googiehost
Image 5: via 000webhost
Image 6: via InfinityFree
Image 7: via Byet Host