At first, free hosting sounds like a simple choice, but in reality there are a number of pitfalls that you can expect to encounter. Unlike paid hosting services, free hosting providers to not typically have the resources to provide top quality services, nor do they enter into a “service level agreement” with their customers; so you have no guarantees when it comes to your hosting service. That is why it is important to do your research first, before choosing a free host for your site. Some of the factors that need to be considered when choosing a free hosting provider are reliability, up-time, features and ease of migration to a new host.
When selecting a free host it is important to choose one that has been around for a decent amount of time. Typically, the best method is to search Google (or your favorite search engine) for terms such as “free hosting” and “free web hosting”. The hosts that come up in the top positions for these search phrases are typically those that have stood the test of time. You will also find a number of free hosting directories such as “Free Webhosts” and “Absolutely Free Hosting”. These sites are also helpful when finding a provider, as they rate them based on features and reliability. Once you have narrowed your choose down to a few free hosting providers, you can search again for reviews on these hosts before making a final choice.
Also, consider the features you will need to create your new web site, such as coding languages, databases and domain names. At a minimum, make sure you suggest a host that offers PHP and MySQL support, as these are the most common features needed for building websites these days. Also, if you intend on using your own domain, which you should, make sure the free host allows you to host your own domain. It is best to avoid any host that makes you use a sub-domain or sub-directory based on their domain name. You should use your own domain from the start so you are building page rank and search engine listings for your own brand.
Lastly, consider your long term goals. Most likely once your site has reached a certain level you will decide to move to a paid hosting provider. Most paid hosting providers use the “cPanel” control panel for their hosting platforms. Selecting a free host that uses “cPanel” is a good choice, because migrating to a new host is simplified. You just need to create a backup archive using the provided tools which you can then upload to the new host to restore your site. Once complete you just need to point your domain to the new provider and you are done.
Following the steps outlined in this article, you should be well on your way to finding a quality free web host.