Free WordPress Hosting: Is It Really Worth It?
Is free WordPress hosting a cheap gimmick or a genuine budget alternative?
As it is, normal WordPress hosting can be very cheap, especially if you have modest requirements for your site. For a few bucks a month, you can get shared hosting with a reliable provider, and this will serve you just fine, in the early days at least.
Even so, merely “cheap” ain’t good enough for some folk. There will always be the austere penny pinchers who want their hosting, like the WordPress software, to cost nothing at all.
And there are, indeed, many providers who will host your site free of charge. So if you’re determined to get your own self-hosted WordPress site on the web site without spending a cent, read on to learn more.
Is free WordPress hosting for me?
That depends. If all you want is a basic WordPress blog, and you’re not interested in serious development or design modifications, you’re better off going with the hosted WordPress.com service. It’s quick, painless, reliable and free.
Yet for all its convenience, WordPress.com is fairly restrictive in terms of how much control you have over your site. To edit your theme’s CSS file, for example, you need to purchase an “upgrade”, which will cost you $30 a year – not much cheaper than a basic shared hosting plan.
So if you want to experience WordPress in its raw and fully-customizable state, but refuse to open your wallet for the privilege, then free hosting might be the solution for you.
What to expect from a free WordPress hosting provider
Most free hosting providers will incorporate advertising into their services in one way or another. (They’re still running a business, after all).
You might be required to leave an attribution link in the footer of your site, or even display a banner advert for the hosting company (although there are plenty of free hosts who don’t require this).
Aggressive sales tactics
Most companies that offer free WordPress hosting are running a kind of “freemium” business model, where they give you a basic service for free, and then try very hard to upsell you to paid hosting or some other product or service. So expect plenty of marketing emails from your host.
Limited storage space and bandwidth
This varies widely among free hosting providers, but in general you are always going to get a smaller slice of the pie than you would with a paid hosting plan. If you’re a casual blogger, this isn’t such an important issue, but if you’re running a big heavy WordPress site then it definitely will be.
This is the biggest gamble that you take with free hosting. Any semi-respectable commercial hosting provider will have a customer support system in place, with a hotline that you can call whenever things go pear-shaped.
Don’t expect as much from free WordPress hosting. If your site suddenly disappears off the face of the planet one day, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get it back. If you’re lucky, the host will have a support forum where you can post questions, and maybe a contact email address. Some even have phone numbers.
But don’t assume that anyone will go out of their way to help you. With free hosting, support is a bonus, not a given.
So is free WordPress hosting worth it?
For 90% of WordPress users, the answer is probably no. If you have any sort of ambition to build a stable, decent-traffic site, then free hosting ain’t gonna cut the mustard. With entry-level shared hosting plans available so cheaply, the risks and compromises involved with free hosting hardly seem worth the trouble.
Nonetheless, if you’re part of that hardcore puritan demographic who don’t believe in spending money if there’s a way around it, then you might be tempted to try your luck with free WordPress hosting and see how it works out.
Some free WordPress hosting providers to consider
These are just a few examples. You’ll find plenty more options out there, legitimate and otherwise. Use common sense and always do your homework first. If some outlandish claim sounds too good to be true, there’s probably a catch.
Over to you – what are your thoughts on free WordPress hosting? Have you ever used it? Tell us about your experiences, whether positive or negative.