Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Web Space

When you want web space, you may find it interesting just how many providers offer it for free. It goes without saying that “free” is a very attractive price; all other things being equal, you’d always want to take the free option.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in; there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and so free hosting is a different beast entirely, with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The question is, is web space worth paying for, or is free hosting sufficient? Let’s find out.

Advantages of Free Web Space

Well, first off, it’s free. That shouldn’t need clarification—you’re getting the service without having to pay for it. You can take the money you’re saving and go see a movie or something.

Unfortunately, that’s where the list of pros begins and ends. There’s no other respect in which free hosting could be superior to paid web space. That being said, that one pro is pretty massive, yes? It’d be enough to form an argument for free web space entirely on its own.

So now it’s time to examine the downsides of free hosting—to see what you’re trading in for that oh-so-attractive price point.

Disadvantages of Free Web Space

Fewer Features

Hosting providers are businesses. They’re not operating for you to run your website; they’re operating in order to make money for their owners. Most free providers also provide paid plans—the free plans are designed to get potential customers for those paid plans. What this means is that, by default, the free plans are going to have fewer features than the paid ones; you need to have motivation to upgrade, after all.

Advertising

One common problem with free web space is the forced advertising placed by the hosting provider on your website. This is a real problem; while your own ads can be an unobtrusive way to monetize your content, the hosting provider’s ads will often be large, tacky things that create a poor impression on users. They also prevent the possibility of using your own ads without turning pages into a horrific mess of ads upon ads that no one will go out of their way to view.

Limited Disk Space and Bandwidth

Disk space is typically limited in free hosting. Most free providers offer 512MB to 1GB of disk space for you to use. That’s not bad, but it’s not good; it’s enough space for basic HTML pages, yes, but complex scripts, images, audio files, or downloadable applications will all burn through your space with great rapidity.

The steep limits on bandwidth are also an issue. If your site becomes popular, users can easily eat through the handful of gigabytes you’re given in traffic, pulling it down until the next month.

Conclusion

If you’re planning to put up a small personal website for your friends and family to see, free hosting isn’t so bad if you know what you’re getting into.

But if you need a website for business or professional use—or if you simply want to avoid the headaches—invest in paid web hosting. In all respects besides the price, paid web hosting is simply a better choice. Just make sure you choose a good web host on which to build your online presence.