If there’s one thing we’re probably all agreed on, it’s that when it comes to buying and goods and services, value for money is the top priority. From web hosting to wardrobes, digital downloads to doors and windows, when we set out to make a purchase, most of us look beyond the mere price as its stated on a website or a shelf in a bricks-and-mortar store. Rather, we look at what we’re actually getting for that money. We question whether we’ll really be getting what we pay for, and whether or not that’s actually a good thing. We look at the materials involved, the functionality, the warranty, and countless other features besides before finally making our minds up about whether or not to go ahead and buy.
Yet whilst we have no problem doing that when it comes to most things, when it comes to getting the best web host for our new website, many of us still scour the net trying to find ourselves a freebie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Wouldn’t life be so much easier for all of us if we get more of the things we want and need for free? Sure it would, but is it really worth it if said freebie doesn’t exactly deliver?
It’s a question worth asking, particularly of free website hosting, where the appeal of getting something for nothing can often distract from the fact that what we’re actually getting is something far from fit for purpose.
If you’ve ever owned a website in the past, you probably don’t need us to tell you that even the most primitive of paid-for plans come with more storage space than you could possibly need, especially with more and more top companies getting on the act of offering unlimited resources.
Take out a free hosting plan however, and you’ll be restricted by just how much space you can use to house those all-important files that make up your site. If you only have one or two pages and a couple of images, this may not be an issue, but if you were planning to host lots of files – even relatively small ones – you may soon find you’ve used up your storage space in no time.
Bandwidth allocations are even more important here. If potential visitors are going to be able to access your website 24/7/365, then you need to be prepared with enough data transfer limits to get your website loading quickly and effectively on their browsers.
Again, expectations count for something here. If you’re only expecting to see a handful of visitors drop by on a monthly basis, the small data transfer limits imposed by most free hosts may not be an issue, but if your site begins to grow, you’re going to encounter issues should you use up all that bandwidth, even to the point that your site may be offline for long periods.
Though the practice isn’t quite as common as it used to be, a lot of free web hosting firms are still reluctant to offer File Transfer Protocol services to their website owners, instead leaving them with no alternative but to use a cumbersome, in-house file-uploader in order to move files to their server one-by-one.
Do this a couple of times, and you may not be too bad, but start looking at uploading even a seven page website with two pictures on each page, and you’ll soon find you grow weary of uploading all twenty-one items in single file.
We’re not saying you can’t create a professional image for your business with free web hosting, only that it’s a lot trickier to do when your hosting provider starts slapping their unsightly ads onto every page.
If you’re only running a small little hobby website, you may not care about Hosting Company X promoting their services on your site, but if you’re running a business or have some other need to create a good first impression, having that design you spent ages on now cluttered with ugly ads is the last thing you’ll need.