In recent years, web hosting has become a commodity in the same way that access to the internet has become a human right. In the earliest days of the internet, if you wanted to launch a website then you had to purchase or rent a server and have the technical expertise that’s required to actually manage it.
But the relentless march of technology has helped to democratise web hosting and related fields, which is why you can sign up for a Dropbox account and pick up free cloud storage space within a couple of minutes. The business model that Dropbox uses is similar to the business models of many free web hosting providers.
It’s also similar to how many smartphone games make money. They rely on a freemium model in which a certain amount of access is given for free but which also allows people to pay for more. In smartphone games, this typically means some form of in-game currency that allows paying players to get a boost on their competition. For free web hosting providers, it usually means offering up a decent amount of resources for free and then giving people the option to upgrade once their websites take off and they need more resources.
Still, not all free hosting providers are equal, with some offering more space than others and some bundling in extra features like website builders and free email addresses. That’s why we’ve pulled this list together. Let’s get into our list of the five best free web hosting providers.
Wix is probably most well-known for its easy-to-use drag-and-drop website building tool, which is why it’s one of the providers of choice for small businesses and simple portfolio sites for freelancers and creatives. The only problem with it is that it’s more restricted when it comes to installing a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or customising it with additional features such as eCommerce functionality.
Still, Wix is a decent enough choice if you can work within its constraints, and it also offers up to 500 MB of storage and bandwidth. They’ll even throw in a free Wix.com subdomain. And, like most free hosting providers, you can also upgrade to paid plans for more resources and functionality.
Weebly is pretty much just Wix but with better customer support and some stunning templates that can give your free website a professional look and feel. If you go for one of their free plans, you’ll have 500 MB of storage and a Weebly.com subdomain, but unlike Wix you’ll get unlimited bandwidth and so your site won’t go down if it suddenly becomes super popular.
On the downside, Weebly’s free hosting plans mean that they’ll add their branding to your website’s footer, but at least they don’t serve up intrusive ads which could scare your visitors away altogether. You can even go in and edit the code for their free templates if you’re a more advanced user who wants something a little more bespoke.
AwardSpace is one of the more established free hosting providers with over ten years of experience when it comes to powering free websites, and they follow a similar model to others by powering their free hosting using paid addons.
With AwardSpace, you’ll be given 1 GB of storage and 5 GB of bandwidth, as well as a free email account and the ability to set up three subdomains. On the downside, they don’t offer a free website builder like Wix and Weebly, but they do offer up Joomla and WordPress installers so that you can get a website up and running with as little fuss as possible.
The clue is in the name here. 5GBFree will give you 5 GB of free storage, as well as 20 GB of bandwidth and one-click installers for various ecommerce tools such as Joomla, PHPShop and ZenCart. It’s one of the few free hosting providers that offers this ecommerce support, which means you can get your store up and running for free and then upgrade to a more powerful host once the store is able to pay for it.
5GBFree also spends a lot of time and resources on securing their setup, and they even use a world-class quality data centre. On the downside, their customer service isn’t great, but they do have a product forum that can connect you with other customers who might be able to help.
000webhost.com is one of the most popular free web hosting providers on the market, and there’s a reason for that. They have literally millions of happy users and they’ve been in the business of offering free hosting since 2007. And unlike most other free hosting providers, they have virtually no limits when it comes to storage space and bandwidth.
This host is also different to others because they’ll provide not just one but five free email accounts, and they also give users access to heavy-duty analytics tools, auto-installers, website building tools and more. You can even scoop up a free SSL certificate. You’d be hard pressed to find another free host with as powerful an offering as this.
By now, you should have a good idea of what the landscape is like for free web hosting providers and you might even have an idea of which one you want to go for. Before you go ahead and sign up for one, though, be sure to check some user reviews to get a feel for what people think of them.
You’ll also want to put some thought into the types of features that you’ll need and what resource levels you’re looking for. The last thing you want to do is to find a free host, sign up to it and find yourself migrating to another one a couple of weeks afterwards because you made the wrong call.
The good news is that there’s plenty of choice when it comes to free web hosting providers and this list only covers the tip of the iceberg. If you have specialist needs (if you want a host in a particular geographical area, for example) then you’re sure to find a free host to suit your needs if you spend enough time searching.
Web hosting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. So why not save your money for something else?