What to choose? Free or Paid Web Hosting?
When choosing a web host provider, one first has to determine if they wish to use a paid or free hosting service. There are plenty of both available. Before even examining the differences between paid or free hosting, it should be understood that if you have plans for your web site to be anything more than a personal "About Me" or "My Hobby" site to share with your friends–a free hosting service should be out of the question.
In short, providing free hosting services isn’t a very sustainable business model and the majority of those who attempt it fail, often disappearing overnight and leaving all of their users stuck with no web sites, and worse yet, no access to the files they had on their free hosting accounts.
Reliable web hosting depends upon quality hardware along with trained customer care and support technicians. Obviously, a hosting provider who offers their services to users for free–even if they include some small advertising on their customer’s pages to earn a minimal return for the service–isn’t going to be able to provide top of the line hardware or hire the highest trained and most experienced personnel; it simply won’t be within their operating budget.
If you want dependable and stable hosting, you have to use a paid service. The good news is that the costs for paid hosting are extremely affordable so there really is no reason to risk sacrificing the quality or security of your web site with free service providers.
Assuming that your web site will be just for personal use and that free hosting services haven’t been excluded by the reasons mentioned already, there is still a decision to be made on whether or not to use a free or paid service; so an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of both is in order.
Free web hosting offers one big advantage, it is free. Even though paid hosting can be found for about the same price as a cup of coffee at Starbucks, there is no getting around the fact that if your budget doesn’t have room for that you can use a free hosting service.
On the other hand, free hosting typically comes with severe limitations and often lacks some very basic capabilities. For example, low disk space and bandwidth quantities, no ability to use standard scripting languages or .htaccess rules, no email or FTP access, no visitor tracking statistics, no personal domain names and an absence of quality support. In addition, most free hosting requires intrusive advertising be displayed on your web site pages as well.
With paid hosting you generally receive very generous disk space and transfer allowances, the ability to use your own domain name, email and FTP accounts, support for multiple scripting languages and third-party applications like forum boards, blogging software, content management systems, advanced eCommerce and shopping cart solutions, comprehensive visitor statistics and even web site design tools to work with.
In addition, with paid hosting you will usually also have access to qualified online and phone support 24/7.
Everyone has their own budget to work from, and it basically comes down to a risk versus rewards decision. With free hosting you risk the reliability of the service for your visitors and that your provider may go out of business without warning at any time. In making your decision you will have to weigh those risks against the rewards of reliability and advanced features that come with using a paid service for your web site.
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