Can Your Business Live – and Thrive – on Free Web Hosting?
November 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Web hosting is one of the most important services for any business looking to create a presence online. Unless you have an environment equipped with servers, dedicated T1 connections, onsite technicians, and other features typically found in a data center, you’re going to need a third party to host your website. There are many options for web hosting, and while most will cost at least a small investment, some require nothing at all.
Pros and Cons of Free Hosting
Unlike many offers, free web hosting, in most cases, really is free. This is in the sense that you don’t have to come out of your pocket with any money. What do you get in return? Space, pages, and various other features that will comprise your website. It’s a viable option for some, but the disadvantages make it a no-win situation for most businesses.
With free hosting, you are usually limited in terms of pages, functionality, and control. This pretty much means you are limited to what often turns out to be a basic website. Then there’s the whole advertising thing. They’re not making money from selling plans, but since the bills still need to be paid, most free web hosts indulge in advertising in order to generate the necessary revenue. The bad thing about this is that those ads are displayed on your web pages, which is not a good look when you are trying to portray a professional image to your audience.
How to Find the Best Web Hosting Solution
Most businesses cannot survive on free web hosting. It is one of those cases where you stand to lose much more than you gain. On the bright side, web hosting is pretty cheap these days, and finding the right solution is a straightforward process when you know what to look for.
Figure Out the Right Type
Web hosting comes in many different flavors. Knowing the type your business requires is always a good place to start.
- Shared Hosting: With shared web hosting, you are literally sharing resources such as server space and bandwidth with other customers. This is the cheapest option, but also the riskiest for larger businesses as the sins of your neighbors could haunt you with downtime and other issues that affect your operation.
- VPS Hosting: Powered by virutalization technology, virtual private server (VPS) hosting is an arrangement where software is used to create multiple virtual servers within a single physical server. So while you’re still technically sharing space, being in your own virtual environment means you have access to more resources. The VPS variety typically offers a smoother performance, and better security compared to shard hosting.
- Dedicated Hosting: This type of hosting is made for businesses that have a lot of traffic, activity, and mission-critical applications that can’t be compromised. The dedicated variety gives you access to the entire server and all its resources, allowing you to plan for traffic spikes, security threats, and various other issues. This superior control comes at a price as dedicated hosting is usually considerably more expensive than its shared counterpart.
Find a Good Control Panel
Web hosting plans will throw a lot of features at you, many of which are very confusing to the newbie. The one feature you need to get to know quickly is the control panel. As the name suggests, this feature allows you to control all the important aspects of your website — from adding domain names to building the site itself. This is where you’ll be spending most of your time so look for something that’s easy to use and manage.
Make Support a Priority
There’s one thing I forgot to mention about free web hosting — you’re usually screwed on support. Most companies offering a free service don’t have the resources to fund a support team so when something goes wrong, you may have to figure it out on your own. But just because you pay for support doesn’t mean it will be delivered at a first-class rate. Some firms are infamous for not helping their paying clients, so before you sign-up, do some research to see what existing and former client are saying about the level of support.
Some industries are in a fragile state, but the web hosting business isn’t one of them. As long as individuals and organizations need websites, this sector will continue to thrive. You want the best solution for your investment and efforts, so take the time out to make sure you choose right the first time. Having to change companies because your current host is inadequate will waste resources and time.
Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.