Among the emails we receive from readers, a recurring problem, as I have already commented, is that of people who have set up a website with poor quality hosting. Within this there is a very frequent special case that is the case of free hosting.
If you compare the searches for “free hosting” and “free hosting” versus “cheap hosting” or “professional hosting”, for example, the difference is simply brutal.
Obviously, free hosting is an option of very low quality and usually simply not feasible as a web hosting option for a site that has a minimum intention of going seriously.
What is more, something that many people are not aware of is that the suppliers themselves do not want that, generally what they want is to be a commercial hook so that the client ends up contracting the payment option.
However, this does not mean that there are no other uses where free hosting really makes a lot of sense, and may even be the best option.
The problem is simply that of always: in order to capture the client, the advertising suggests between the lines much more than what is then really fulfilled, usually half-truths and, on the other hand, many customers to save 5 euros to the month, which is the price around which you can get a good basic range hosting, choose to host your website in a service of this type.
How is it possible that there is free hosting? Is there a cat locked up?
One obvious question that you may have asked yourself is how is it possible that there are free hosting offers when the provider has to support the costs of their infrastructures. The answer is simple: because there are business models that make money with this.
The models are very varied, in some cases, it is a way to attract users to later capture them for payment services , in other cases there is an advertising model in which the provider embeds advertising on the websites of its users, or , they capture the user with free hosting to sell associated services (domains, technical support, etc.).
So it’s not so much that there are malicious intentions hidden, but that free hosting is just another activity with a business model behind, but given its free nature plays with tight margins and has to control, therefore, very well costs . And that happens by squeezing their resources to the maximum by exploiting them to the maximum with as many users as possible, only then can the accounts come out.
The strategy is usually to capture users by announcing a series of surprising features for a free hosting such as disk space and unlimited bandwidth, as announced, for example, in the case of the capture above, which is for an inexperienced user. These issues give you the feeling that you have just found a bargain: a free service with the benefits of a professional.
However, they often leave for the fine print things like that, for example, in the web user is going to show advertising for the provider charges and not the user that no copies of safety , that there is no support or the impossibility of using your own domain , except with the payment options.
5 Ways to take advantage of free hosting
You must be clear that a free hosting is not a recommended option for a real website such as a personal blog that really has prospects to generate some traffic and get people to follow it, and of course it is an absolutely inappropriate option for a professional site, nor the suppliers themselves recommend you to use it for that.
But that does not mean that it is a service that does not make sense, there are a number of very interesting use cases for a free hosting, among which I would highlight the following:
- Know and learn to work with a hosting server
This way of using a free web hosting is the most obvious. If you have in mind, for example, to migrate your blog from a site hosted by a third party such as WordPress.com or Blogger to the professional option of a WordPress.org blog with its own hosting, then, it may be interesting for you to experiment a bit with a first Free hosting to take away your fear or know how to better estimate what you’re getting into and if it would compensate for the help of a professional for it.
However, there is an important danger: a bad hosting, due to its limitations, can give you many problems and generate a false image (negatively) of the difficulty of setting up a site with its own hosting when it is something that is not so difficult. So, if you are clear that you want to migrate, frankly, I would not waste time with this intermediate step. I would leave it in an option in case you just want to poke around a little.
- Test environment
When you have any type of web, you should also create a second site for tests in which you can quietly test changes or small developments without affecting the main site, especially if it is about things that are not trivial and immediate to implement.
In this case, a free hosting is an interesting option to be able to mature things before implementing them without incurring the cost of having to hire a second hosting.
Now, it is still an option with many limitations that in more than one occasion will generate headaches, so I think it can be much more interesting to install your site on a local server.
How to install WordPress on a local server in 5 steps with Xampp
- It may be enough for small environments
Thanks to the spectacular development that has taken place in the world open source ( open source ) these years, fortunately, we have today with many applications of very good quality that are completely free and typically use the technological combination of PHP + MySQL which is supported in virtually any hosting. The blogs on WordPress is one of the best known examples.
But, apart from blogs, there are many more useful applications such as wikis or forums, for example. In certain environments, with few users and very little traffic it may make sense to use this type of applications. For example, in a small community neighbors who want to organize a little better, simply by avoiding the payment management of hosting and possible messes and conflicts associated with this among neighbors (we already know how are these communities …), can be more practical launch a forum for neighbors with a solution of this kind. Being a site that will never have a relevant traffic and where service interruptions are not a very serious problem can serve perfectly.
Also, if you keep backup copies of your site properly, there will be no major problems in moving the application from one hosting to another if necessary.
- It can be a superior alternative to certain free services
Linking with the previous example, installing an application in a free hosting can be a better alternative to a similar free service. For example, in the case of forums in Spanish, the Foroactivo platform is well known , it is a site where you can create a free forum, an idea similar to what is, for example, WordPress.com for blogs. It could have been an alternative to the previous example.
However, as in the case of WordPress.com, the counterpart is serious limitations in its functionality , in the case of Foroactivo, one of the most important limitations is the impossibility of attaching files in the threads of the forum, a quite important in our example because it would allow sharing documents, etc. In Foroactivo, this is a functionality that has “got” and that is a serious problem.
This type of functional limitations are not going to suffer if you set up a forum software like phpBB on your own server and, therefore, can be a much better solution than opening an account in Foroactivo in the case of this example.
The limitation and great disadvantage against Foroactivo will be that free hosting adjusts resources so much that you will hardly endure traffic. For the community of neighbors it can work well, but for a public forum that has some life it is completely unfeasible.
- Link building
Sometimes free hosting are also used to make link building, although this option with a free hosting is quite limited since it will only serve as something with its own domain (which few allow). On the other hand, the site, unable to grow in traffic due to the limitations of free hosting, does not have many options to gain much authority.
All this makes the links of this type of site will have a relative value, which will also have a value if this strategy really makes sense. This will already depend on the quality of the option chosen (if it reaches a minimum of traffic, speed and stability).