It’s still possible to get your website hosted for nothing. The question is whether you’ll be happy with the result. In life, there are seldom any really free lunches. However, with a few tips, you can make the most of a low-budget shared hosting solution to get the best performance possible for your website under the circumstances.
Understanding Providers’ Motivations
Why would a hosting provider offer you space free of charge? One reason is to be able to sell advertising to others. Is this good or bad? You might object to seeing your site used to advertise somebody else’s products or services. However, some website owners, small businesses in particular, feel that having advertising on their site gives it additional credibility. Another reason for offering space free is to entice to get you to sign up for an Internet connection. You pay a monthly fee for the connection. The shared hosting space is ‘thrown in free’, or more exactly, at zero marginal cost. Whether or not you use the shared space, it doesn’t cost you any extra.
The Limitations of the Free Lunch
‘Free’ it may be, but don’t expect miracles. Even if some providers offer an enormous amount of disk space (disk space is cheap and not everybody will use their quota), network bandwidth is likely to be in much shorter supply. You’ll be sharing with whoever else is using the same service. Some sharers may have very popular or very voluminous sites, or both. They are likely to take up more bandwidth and leave less for the others. Some providers set limits, officially or unofficially, but often not before performance for everybody starts to slow down.
A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed
You may be able to use some of somebody else’s resources. For example, perhaps you have a friend using dedicated hosting or virtual private server hosting. Remember to be a well-behaved guest by making sure your website has lightweight pages without heavy graphics or big PDF files to be downloaded. In other words, avoid anything that could cause a noticeable impact on overall performance. And be prepared to do favors in return – buying your friend beer, babysitting for free once in a while, or anything else that might be appreciated!
Your Domain Name
This is one of the few things where you will have no option but to spend money. If you want your website to have an easy-to-remember name, you’ll want to get a meaningful domain name. However, the financial outlay is still modest. Reckon on the equivalent of $10 – $15 per year, possibly lower if you’re prepared to reserve for several years at a time.
The Price of Success
From a modest start using shared hosting, you may find that your website becomes popular and attracts many visitors. You may then outgrow shared hosting and need to move to another hosting solution to continue to delight your fans. That will usually mean greater expense for you. But remember that a popular website also gives you possibilities to generate revenue. Examples include offering premium content to paying subscribers, or running your own advertising. You may then be able to balance out hosting expenses with website revenue – and continue eating your hosting ‘free lunch’ for a while to come.