Free hosting vs Paid hosting

A website can be hosted on one of these servers – shared, cloud, private, or dedicated. These four services fall into the category of paid hosting. The free hosting company is the one that won’t bill you for using their service. Depending on your chosen plan, you may have to pay the bill every month or year to continue using a paid service. Why pay money for a thing you can get for free? We have discussed the same in the following paragraphs:

Free hosting can be subdivided into these types – hosted and completely free. A hosted service is one in which you build a website using a prebuilt web application, and the site’s data is saved to the company’s server. For example, Wix, Blogger, WordPress, Google Sites, etc are some of the leading free hosted services. The other type of free hosting i.e. completely free offers a simple control panel and lets you host basic applications built using PHP, HTML, CSS, JS, etc. Here are the pros and cons of a free service:

Pros of free service

The only advantage of free services is that you don’t have to pay a penny to use them. Your site will be live and functional. You will also have full access to the dashboard and whatever free features the host offers.

Cons of free service

Limited storage memory: Free services don’t offer huge storage space like paid ones. For example, 000webhost provides just 300 MB of storage memory to the users of its free plan.

Security issues: In 2015, the leading free hosting service provider 000WebHost was hacked, and the details of around 13 million customers were leaked online. Some of the top companies that sell cloud server plans are Google Cloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure, and the leading shared server providers are Bluehost, HostGator, and Siteground. None of these six companies have reported a major hacking incident to date.

Downtime: A website hosted with a free service may suffer from indefinite or random downtimes. When a site is down frequently, search bots may not crawl the website often, and you won’t find many pages of your website in the search result pages of Bing, Google, etc. The frequent downtimes may affect your business if you’re selling a service or product on your site. The leading paid hosting companies offer an impressive uptime of 99.9%.

Brand: Your URL might be branded if you use a free service. For example, if you’ve created a website using Blogger, the URL of your site will have the Blogspot branding. The URL of websites built using Weebly will carry the Weebly branding. You can get rid of the branding by purchasing a .com domain or some other domain and pointing the same to your site.

Free hosting is good only in the following situations

You’re using a hosted service: If you’re using a hosted service such as blogger, WordPress, or Weebly, you don’t have to worry about service issues or downtime. The services are monitored periodically by the company’s staff and with monitoring software. Hence, the company’s support staff will immediately work on the issue when the application stops functioning.

You’re learning to build a website or want to become familiar with a service: A free hosting service is a great option for users learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and want to try out their skills by writing code. If you use it, you can put your code on the server and see how your website looks when you access it on the internet. Users who want to know how hosting works or get familiar with various options/tools that a company provides for managing the server may offer can also use the service.

Paid service pros

Control panel: With the control panel application, you can manage the entire website and even do things that only people with knowledge of web and server technologies can do. For example, you can explore the database, create redirects, set up redirects, and more with the help of tools available in the control panel.

Security: The reputation of a company is important. If the servers of a company are down frequently, the company will have negative reviews everywhere on the internet. No company would want its customers to post negative reviews on social media sites, forums, and business listing sites. The companies hire and train support staff to ensure that the servers are always functional. The staff will monitor the servers and apply patches to prevent server issues or update outdated software.

Also, web hosting companies install powerful firewalls on their servers. They may deploy powerful virus/malware scanner utilities that will periodically scan the files stored on the server for malicious code. They may also use systems that protect a website from brute force attacks.

Excellent customer support: Users of paid web hosting services have access to dedicated support teams. They can chat with the support team in real time and call the company’s phone number to get immediate help.

Addon services: To save time, you can purchase add-on services from companies. Many companies offer add-on services such as weekly or daily backups, site migration, etc. The add-on services can be either free or paid.

Paid service cons

Not free: Paid hosting services have several advantages over their free counterparts, but they come with a monthly cost.

Finding a good host is difficult: Finding a good host is not easy as the shared/cloud/dedicated server plans of several companies are priced in the same range. Unless a company is offering a managed server subscription with plenty of features and you’ve signed up for the plan, there’s no benefit of buying a slightly expensive plan than the one that is available for a cheaper rate as a user can improve the performance of the website using free CDN such as Cloudflare.

So, these are the pros and cons of free and paid hosting services. Free vs paid: Which service should you use? If you’re serious about your online career, you should buy a paid subscription. What if you don’t do so? Suppose you’re using Blogger. If you want to migrate your site to WordPress, you’ll have to redirect URLs, set permalink structure, find a good and fast WordPress theme, etc. All these activities may result in a loss of rankings.


Pramod is the founder of wptls. He has been using WordPress for more than nine years. He builds web applications, and writes about his experiences with various WP products on this site.

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