The first thing you need to consider before deciding on free hosting services is the purpose of your website. Do you want a website because you want to share your writings or photos with friends or family? Or do you want to sell your products online?
Secondly, you need to decide on a domain name. When you’ve determined the purpose of your website then it’ll be easy to come up with a suitable domain name (ie. name for the website). Don’t fall into the “free” trap – many hosting service providers gives for free: a free website name. But what you don’t realize is, your website name is a sub domain not a full domain. For example yoursitename.com is a full domain, while shoe.yoursitename.com is a sub domain, this type of name is not good for a professional website or an ecommerce website.
While completely free hosting services exist, domain name registrations are not free. In order to use “http://www.yourname.com”, you need to pay the .COM Registry registration fee. This fee guarantees that your name will be yours to use for the duration of your registration term, in most cases one year.
If the.COM version of your desired name is not available, you have the option to get the .NET, .ORG,.BIZ, .US, .INFO or even .CA, .UK, etc. The list goes on and on… Most people usually go for the .NET version if the .COM is not available. It’s completely up to you. If your website is about sharing information, then you should consider .INFO. If your website is for your business, then a .BIZ would be good, too.
Thirdly, you need to consider the number of visitors to your website per day. Will you be expecting a lot of visitors a day? By a lot, we’re talking about in the thousands. Do you have a lot of photos or files to share with your visitors? If yes, then ample bandwidth and disk space will be on your shopping list, hence free web hosting is not recommended for your website.
If you’re setting up an online store AND will be accepting credit card information from your customers, then you’ll need to consider advanced security options (ie. SSL certificate).
However, If this is your first website and you’re just experimenting, then your list will be shorter – all you need is a free plan. A free plan will offer you the basic necessities to have a website on the Internet without any of the fancy bells and whistles.
Fourthly, if you decide on free service, then you need to find a reputable company. There are many places you can go to find a service provider. You can do a search for “free companies” on Google, but do keep in mind that just because a company is listed on the first page of Google doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe and legit. It’s always best to shop around or ask people for referrals and references. You can also visit web hosting forum for for advice.
Please find blow basic things to look for in a free service plan:
It allows you to use your own domain name.
There are no forced ad banners It comes with storage space (for beginners, 100MB is more than enough)
It comes with bandwidth/data transfer (for beginners, 1000MB is ample)
It comes with email services. With your own domain name, you’ll want to be able to setup @yourdomain.com accounts
Once you’ve found the free service that best suits your needs, then you can go ahead and start designing your new website and enjoy the fun and joy that a website can bring.
Questions you need to ask about free service
All websites need an hosting company to host there websites. A plan gives you access to a web server, which you can store your web files and share all data with the world.
There are many different plans on the market and one of them is the free option. Here are some common questions about free service.
Is free hosting option really free? Yes, many different companies offer free web services at no cost. However, a common set back is most of these free plans do not offer sufficient features you need for your website and/or most of them force you to place advertisements on your website.
What can I do with a free service: You can do pretty much anything you would do with a regular web plan, except you are limited by the amount of server resources. You have to keep in mind that common features such as PHP programming, MySQL databases, CGI scripts and FTP may not be available.
Your monthly bandwidth allotment might be limited as well – if your web has a large number of visitors, it will require more bandwidth. The challenging part of this is that you may experience traffic spikes when least expected and be left with a sudden shortage of resources. If traffic is important, make sure your free web hosting plan comes included with sufficient bandwidth to support your current and future traffic requirements.
Do all free provide forced advertisement? Many, not all, free providers force you to place pop-ups, pop-unders, third-party banner advertisements and other annoying elements on your website in exchange for their free web hosting services. Most of the time, an upgrade to a paid plan is the only way to remove these ads. One of the best aspects of free plans is that most web hosting providers will let you upgrade your free plan to a more inclusive paid plan. If you are looking for a way to test the waters (or sample a web provider), you may want to consider free service with a company that offers the option of upgrade, or better yet, a smooth transition.
In conclusion, one of the biggest drawbacks of free services has been the lack of support. It seems as if some companies are cutting costs in various areas to provide free services. Support is very important and should come at no additional cost. However, a paid service is highly recommended: what is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
by Dr Olusola A Coker Ed.D