Web Hosting – Why Pay?

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If you’re in the process of finding an appropriate host for your site, you’ll probably ask yourself “Why should I pay for hosting when I can get it for free?” The answer depends on the nature of your site. A paid hosting plan is essential for some sites, while for others a free host might offer all the facilities you need. But which should you choose?

Free Hosting Pitfalls

If you’ve been developing Web pages for over a year, then chances are that you’re considering the move to paid hosting, if you’re not already on a paid plan. As an experienced coder and designer, you’re probably familiar with the frustrations involved with hosting your site on a free server…

1. Advertising Overload
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of free hosting is the proliferation of unwanted ads on all your pages. Unfortunately, many free hosts rely solely on these ads to earn money, so very few offer services that are free of forced advertising. The end result? Visitors to your site see a 468×60 pixel banner ad on the top of each of your pages. Or maybe they’re hit with a pop-up banner after each click-through. Whatever the case, these ads can severely reduce the professionalism of well-designed pages.

2. More Downtime
Downtime plagues many free web hosts. The fact that their subscribers don’t pay for services means that many free hosts feel less than obligated when it comes to dependability. Free hosts are rarely bothered if some of users are dissatisfied with the service – this small minority are of little or no real benefit to the host anyway.

3. Poor Customer Support
The majority of free hosts don’t have the funds to hire customer support teams. If you experience problems, you can find yourself relying heavily on the host’s Frequently Asked Questions page – after all, the chances of receiving any live or email support can be almost non-existent.

4. Limited Space
If your site is large, then you might find free web hosts quite limiting. Most free hosts only provide customers with 5 to 10 MB of space, so you’ll never be able to expand your site beyond your allotted disk space without moving to a paid host.

5. Restricted Ad Revenues
Many free hosts don’t allow you to sell advertising space on your site. This might be fine if you’re simply maintaining a personal homepage, but can severely impact on revenues for business Websites. For these sites, a paid service may be the only viable hosting option.

6. No Secure Server Access
If you plan on building an online store, you’ll need a secure server to enable secure online credit card processing. Most free hosts don’t support secure web servers, and, given customer fears about fraud, privacy and security, the lack of secure serving can make it virtually impossible for an online store to survive on a free service.

7. File Type Restrictions
Many free web hosts don’t support file extensions other than .html, which can be really limiting. For example, if you build a large web site with the same navigation on each page, you might use SSI, which gives you the ability to alter the navigation style on one page, and have that same alteration automatically carried across all pages. SSI can save you a great deal of time and frustration, but is produces files that end in .shtml. To cater for these files, you’ll need an SSI-enabled server, which can be almost impossible to find through a free host.

8. Long Domain Names
Paid hosts allow their customers to use their own domain names, while most free services require you to take a subdomain off the host’s name. In the case of Geocities, a typical URL could resemble “http://www.geocities.com/Area51/ Shadowlands/ 2719/ Food/ pizza.htm.” Domains like this almost entirely prevent users from visiting your site from memory – they’ll need to bookmark your site, or be able to find it easily through a search engine or other linked sites. Obviously, this can seriously affect the traffic your site receives.

Free or Paid? It’s up to you.

As you can see, in most cases, a paid web host provides a significantly better service than do free hosts. Free Web hosting might be ideal for personal homepages and sites that don’t rely on online advertising or sales revenues. But for those in business, whether they’re selling online, or simply wish to present a professional Web presence, paid hosting is typically the only option worth considering. Maybe the old saying’s true: You do get what you pay for.

Frequently Asked Questions about Web Hosting

Why should I pay for web hosting when there are free options available?

While free web hosting services may seem attractive, they often come with limitations such as limited storage space, bandwidth, and lack of customer support. On the other hand, paid web hosting services offer more resources, better security, and customer support. They also provide more control over your website, allowing you to customize it to your liking.

What are the benefits of paid web hosting over free hosting?

Paid web hosting services offer numerous benefits over free hosting. These include better uptime, faster load times, more storage space, and the ability to handle more traffic. Additionally, paid hosting services often come with professional customer support, which can be invaluable if you encounter any issues with your website.

Is it worth paying for web hosting for a small business?

Yes, it is definitely worth paying for web hosting for a small business. A paid web hosting service can provide your business with a professional-looking website, which can help attract more customers. Additionally, paid hosting services often come with features such as email accounts, SSL certificates, and e-commerce capabilities, which can be beneficial for a small business.

Can I host my own website instead of paying for web hosting?

While it is technically possible to host your own website, it is not recommended for most people. Hosting your own website requires a significant amount of technical knowledge and resources. Additionally, you would be responsible for all aspects of maintaining and securing your website, which can be time-consuming and challenging.

What factors should I consider when choosing a web hosting service?

When choosing a web hosting service, you should consider factors such as the amount of storage space and bandwidth you need, the level of customer support provided, the uptime guarantee, and the price. You should also consider whether the hosting service offers any additional features that you may need, such as email accounts or e-commerce capabilities.

How much does web hosting typically cost?

The cost of web hosting can vary greatly depending on the type of hosting you choose and the features you need. Shared hosting, which is the most affordable option, can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $20 per month. VPS and dedicated hosting, which offer more resources and control, can cost anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars per month.

Can I switch from free to paid web hosting?

Yes, you can switch from free to paid web hosting. Most web hosting providers offer a variety of plans, so you can easily upgrade to a paid plan if you need more resources or features. However, you should be aware that switching hosting providers can be a complex process, so it’s best to choose the right hosting service from the start.

What is the difference between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting?

Shared hosting is the most affordable option and involves sharing server resources with other websites. VPS hosting provides you with a virtual private server, which offers more resources and control than shared hosting. Dedicated hosting provides you with your own server, offering the most resources and control, but it is also the most expensive option.

Do I need technical knowledge to use a paid web hosting service?

While some technical knowledge can be helpful, most paid web hosting services are designed to be user-friendly and offer customer support to assist with any technical issues. Many also offer one-click installations for popular website platforms like WordPress, making it easy to get your website up and running.

Is my website data secure with a paid web hosting service?

Most paid web hosting services take security very seriously and offer features such as SSL certificates, regular backups, and malware scanning to help protect your website data. However, it’s always a good idea to take additional steps to secure your website, such as using strong passwords and keeping your website software up to date.

Michael McCarthyMichael McCarthy
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Michael is the founder and leading Webmaster of Web Hosting Reviews, one of the Internet's most valued Web host directories.

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