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Free Website Hosting Vs Paid Website Hosting

We all love free. No costs out of pocket and we get what we want. It's a beautiful thing. So now let's provide something for free, shall we? Writing's free, right? Just the time involved. So you can go through this whole set of articles and you'll be able to have a site up and running and it won't cost a cent, if you don't want it to. 

It'll even be set to make a little money, if that's what you want.

Same thing for web hosting. There are a number of free hosts out there. You won't pay a cent out of pocket and you'll be able to put up your info or your pictures or your whatever.

The issue is this: Web hosting is very expensive for the hosting provider.  They cannot afford to buy all those computers, all the software, the internet connections, and maintain them while providing 100% free services.

So they have to get their money somehow, even though you might pay nothing at all. How is this possible? Upsells, emails, and ads, basically. So let me give some examples:

The Free Hosting

Tripod.com is a 100% free hosting service. You can sign up and be putting up a site within an hour. As you go through the signup process they will encourage you to sign up for their paid hosting service, buy a domain name, and sign up for various offers. None of which you have to do. They provide lots of templates to pick from and their website builder isn't at all hard to use.

Once your site is up you'll notice their ads all over your site. For example, this Warcraft Rogue tips site I threw together. The two ad blocks at the top and the bottom of the page are Tripod's. Since Tripod has been around for a long time with the same model I have to assume that their model works.

It's not a bad way to get started, really. Most free hosts are similar. When the time comes for you to get more serious with your site you'll want to move up to a paid solution.

DotEasy.com also offers free hosting but you'll make a $35 payment for a domain name or to transfer a domain name to their service. The upside is that you don't get any of their ads on your site. This works out to about $3 a month which is about as cheap as hosting gets.

The best way to go, by far, if you really want to be free is Blogger.com. Blogger is owned by the mighty Google, which means a few things: 1) You're not limited in how much stuff you add to your site and 2) it's going to be around for awhile.

The only thing that Blogger adds to your site is a bar at the top of the page giving access to other blogger blogs. Here's an example of one of their blogs. Yet another warcraft tips blog. The only thing that Blogger adds is the bar at the top. Everything else is yours.

So how does Blogger pay the bills? Google has the adsense program which allows you to put their adds on your site and you split the revenue.

One more note - You'll never be able to run a high traffic site on the free hosts. Once you exceed a certain amount of traffic they'll turn off your site until the bandwidth meter resets.

The exception? You can have a high traffic site with blogger. Some pretty popular blogs are on blogger.

Squidoo - Squidoo.com isn't really a hosting service, but it's a pretty nifty system. Absolutely 100% free and they do a revenue sharing system with the ads placed on your site. More about Squidoo.com.

Hubpages - Very similar to squidoo, 100% free, but a little stricter in what they allow. More on HubPages.

There are some other issues with the free stuff, too. See below.

The Paid Hosting

The big advantage of paid hosting is that you have complete control over your site. No ads that aren't yours, no bars at the top or bottom of your site, no hoops to jumps through.

Subject to the limitations of your host's terms and conditions you have no limits to what you put on your site. Go crazy with the design, size, and content. You'll also generally get a lot more in the way of features with paid hosting than with free hosting. Check out our hosting glossary for definitions of some of those terms.

I gave up on free hosting a long time ago, with the exception of that Tripod site, but that's mostly there as a demo anyway. 

Getting a lot of traffic? Free hosts, as I mentioned above, will shut you down fast. Paid hosts will too, but you will be getting a lot more traffic than the freebies will put up with. The big sites pay a little, or a lot more, and can handle vast amounts of traffic.

So if you plan on building a somewhat professional site that gets a nice level of traffic and will maybe make you a few buxks then you want to go with the paid hosting. I use Kiosk.ws, after firing my last two hosts, but there are a lot of hosting services out there and some may suit you better. I've also used 1and1.com and like them.

So why use paid hosting instead of Blogger, Squidoo, Hubpages, etc.? You're less at the mercy of the system. For example: Google has been known to kill certain Blogger blogs. Usually these were junk or spam blogs, with garbage content, but some good blogs have been hit.

Paid hosts sometimes shut down sites, but usually you're free to put what you like with no fears (though most don't permit certain content specified in their terms of service.)

Also, sites like Squidoo and Hubpages occasionally change how their systems work. If you like the changes, great, if you don't, well, yoiu can alsways go elsewhere.

With your own host you're the one who's always in charge.

Guess which I recommend?

More on the subject of Free and Paid:

  • Free Vs. Paid Webhosting
    There are so many services on the web hosting market today that it's sometimes very difficult to identify what is best for you.

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