Paid vs Free Web Hosting: Your Call

If you could save a few dollars doing something one way instead of another, wouldn't you do it? Would you do it without thinking, or first try to figure out what the pros and cons are of each approach?

When it comes to web hosting, there are countless options from which to choose, including free hosting plans. However, it is unfortunate that not everyone knows the drawbacks of free plans, and they opt for them without reading the fine print or realizing what they're getting themselves into.

In this guide, we will talk about free plans vs. paid plans, and we'll discuss what the benefits and disadvantages of each type of hosting are.

  • The first impression is the last impression
  • Effectively navigate service loopholes and feature or data limits
  • Enjoy services by industry-leading hosting experts

Choose One Right Option From Many

  • Avoid getting stuck with a sub-par hosting partner
  • Efficiently manage bills, budgets, and resource allocations
  • Balance popularity, services, and features with cost and uptime

Top Web Hosting Providers

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Review Score

Our overall rating across all performance and plan metrics.

Price

The most competitive monthly price available from this host.

Disk Space

How much storage space you are allotted for your website.

Bandwidth

How much data your plan allows you to transmit monthly

Website Size

The type of user for which each plan is best suited.

Up-Time

How reliable the host is in terms of percent online throughout the year.

Free Domain

Does this host provide a free domain as part of your plan?

cPanel and WHM

Does this host provide cPanel and WHM (Web Host Manager) admin control as part of your plan?

Dedicated Hosting

Does this host provide dedicated hosting plans?

Money Back Guarantee

Does this host provide money-back guarantees for services?

Linux Servers

Does this host provide servers that run on Linux?

Windows Servers

Does this host provide servers that run on Windows?

24/7 Customer Support

Is round-the-clock customer support available?

Most Popular

$3.95 /mo

Usual Price: $9.95

Up to 60% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Website Size

Big business

Up-Time

97.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$7.95/mo

Usual Price: $19.95

Up to 60% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Website Size

Personal

Up-Time

100%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$2.95/mo

Usual Price: $7.99

Up to 63% off!

Disk Space

50GB

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Website Size

Personal

Up-Time

99.93%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$3.95/mo

Usual Price: $6.95

Up to 43% off!

Disk Space

10GB

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Website Size

Small business

Up-Time

99.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$3.92/mo

Usual Price: $8

Up to 51% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Website Size

Big Business

Up-Time

99.94%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$0/mo

Usual Price: $0.52

Up to 100% off!

Disk Space

25GB

Bandwidth

15GB

Website Size

Personal

Up-Time

99.99%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$3.95/mo

Usual Price: $4.94

Up to 20% off!

Disk Space

50GB

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Website Size

Small business

Up-Time

99.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$4.08/mo

Usual Price: $14.95

Up to 73% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Website Size

Small business

Up-Time

99.88%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$3.95 /mo

Usual Price: $6.99

Up to 43% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Website Size

Small business

Up-Time

97.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$5.99/mo

Usual Price: $7.99

Up to 25% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Website Size

Big business

Up-Time

99.97%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$4.99/mo

Usual Price: $19.15

Up to 74% off!

Disk Space

Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Website Size

Small business

Up-Time

99.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$20/mo

Usual Price: $25

Up to 20% off!

Disk Space

20GB

Bandwidth

1TB

Website Size

Big business

Up-Time

99.99%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

$8/mo

Usual Price: $28

Up to 71% off!

Disk Space

5GB

Bandwidth

50GB

Website Size

Small Business

Up-Time

99.9%

Free Domain

cPanel

Dedicated Hosting

Money Back Guarantee

Linux

Windows

24/7 Customer Support

Pick and choose the right features and specs from a wide range of options

Don't pay for what you don't need, and get the service, security, and features that matter to you most

  • Mobile-friendly templates

    Mobile-friendly templates

    Reel in mobile customers with websites tailored to pleasant mobile experiences

  • Web hosting control panel

    Web hosting control panel

    See everything going on with your website 24x7 with network monitoring and management tools

  • Analytics and insights

    Analytics and insights

    Gain insights into visitor statistics, site traffic reports, and uptime/data limits

  • Money-back guarantees

    Money-back guarantees

    Try our recommended services, and get a refund within 30 days of signing up if you are not satisfied

  • Free ad credits

    Free ad credits

    Get free ad credits for search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo

  • Wide range of options

    Wide range of options

    Launch a Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, or Magento site on Windows or Linux, based on your needs and budget

The first impression is the last impression

With free hosting, the URL or web link that users will have to type to reach your site will be something like awesomecompany.blogspot.com. Not only are such names long, difficult to remember, and prone to being misspelled, they don't look very professional, and do not convey a sense of reliability or trustworthiness. For a more professional portrayal of your website or your online business, it is wise to invest in a domain name and professional hosting that make it clear to visitors that you are serious about what you do.

Needing more resources or services

Paid vs free

If your website becomes popular and successful, it is likely that you will want, or need, more resources from your host. More storage space, higher speeds, better uptime, or specific types of software are some of the things you may not be provided with by free web hosting companies.

Further, if you move from free to paid web hosting, you will not be able to send visitors from your old site to your new domain with the paid host. All of the hard work you put into developing your page and online presence will have been for nothing if you have to start from scratch again.

Custom pages

Free web does not allow for the use of custom error pages. These types of pages are used by web servers to show visitors that there has been an error of some sort. As an example, 404 errors are shown when a page is not found on a server. If you are unable to show custom error messages to visitors, they will come to, and then leave, your site confused about what went wrong. Paid hosting companies allow you to provide custom error pages for specific error types.

Features that come for a price are worth looking into

The lowest-cost provider is not always the best - check out additional features that our recommended hosts provide you with

  • Market-leading uptime

    99.99% guaranteed uptime year-round

  • Core features

    Enjoy core features such as unlimited bandwidth, no data limits, free domains, and automated resource allocation

  • Unlimited domains

    Host unlimited domains from a single control panel for your entire hosting account

  • Community & resources

    Get help and access to resources via our tech team and the general developer community

  • Customer support

    Contact helpful customer support technicians, watch step-by-step tutorials, or avail 24x7 phone, chat, and email support options

  • Backups

    Top hosting plans offer automatic daily, weekly, and monthly backups of your entire account

Fine-print loopholes

Free hosts make their money by running ads on the pages of their clients. Without control on the types, not to mention the frequency, of ads shown on your page, you'll frustrate visitors to your page, not to mention run the risk of running ads that are not only inappropriate or irrelevant, but perhaps not in your personal interest, as would be the case if an ad of a competitor was to show up on your page. Paid hosting allows you to avoid these issues.

Time limitations

Free hosts have been known to run short periods of time, after which they hang up their boots and call it a day. With paid hosting, you'll be able to download your entire site should things start going south, and you can migrate everything to a new host, and keep your domain as well.

Feature limitations

Paid vs free

Free web hosts have numerous limits placed on what you can and cannot do with your site. Not only are things like bandwidth, visitors, RAM, and storage space limited, but you will face a very short features list as well. What happens if you need to install a security update, or a new OS? You won't be able to, and you'll be stuck.

Although there are various limitations with paid hosting as well, you can always upgrade paid plans to something that has more to offer, whenever you feel you've outgrown your current plan.

Final Thoughts

Although they may seem promising at first look, free web hosting comes with a lot of hidden baggage. You cannot take your site with you if you want to migrate to another host, you will likely be stuck with a name, domain, and URL that do not sound professional, your visitors will be bombarded with ads, and you will have to live with limited features, templates, and layouts at your disposal.

Do the right thing and choose one of the many professional and established web hosting companies that we have showcased on our review pages for all of your hosting needs. You're sure to be able to find a plan that fits your budget and delivers what you need, and it will be worth it in the longer run.

Choose your plan today

Free web hosting comes with a lot of hidden baggage, so you need to be extra careful before locking in an agreement with a host. If you choose one of our recommended hosts, you'll have the peace of mind that your hosting partner is an established, reliable, and committed service provider, so choose the plan that fits your budget and delivers what you need today.

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$3.95 /mo
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How we rate

Although price is often the deciding factor when choosing a web host, it shouldn't be the only thing you consider when making a decision as important as who your hosting partner will be.

Our reviews have taken into account subtle yet important factors such as fine-print loopholes, the availability of custom pages, time and feature limitations, and scalability when evaluating paid and free hosts, giving you a more comprehensive ranking from which to decide.

Paid vs Free Hosting - How to Decide

Find answers to common hosting questions below

What are the downsides of free hosting?

Free web hosting comes with a lot of hidden baggage. You cannot take your site with you if you migrate to another host, you can probably only choose names, domains, and URLs that do not sound professional, your visitors will see ads, and you will have to live with limited features, templates, and layouts at your disposal.

How will I benefit from paid hosting?

Free hosting offers the very bare minimum in terms of hosting capabilities. Limited bandwidth, speed, uptime, customer support, and data options severely restrict what and how much you can do with your site. Paid plans offer a lot more, and they offer what you need: speed for those who need it, security for those who deal with sensitive data, and every other feature specifically for those who need them.

Who should use a paid plan?

As long as you are not launching a site as a true trial and error project, you should probably go for a paid plan. Free plans are useful when you just want to register a domain, or to park your website somewhere before actually starting work on it. Everyone else, whether you are launching a project, a product, a company, or a private blog, should go for a paid plan.

Can free hosts support any type of CMS? What about platforms?

You can run a free host on both Windows as well as Linux. You can run WordPress, Joomla, and other CMSs on free hosts as well. However, what you need to keep in mind is that a free host may work against your desired business goals when running those platforms. Joomla offers customizations and WordPress has features that make customer visits smooth and pleasant, whereas free hosts do not support easy, smooth, quick, and ad-free experiences, so you need to choose wisely.

If I go for paid hosting, where do I start?

Start by choosing a recommended paid host, or visit the review pages we have for other services such as fast hosting, reliable hosts, cloud and VPS plans, and the best WordPress and blog hosting sites.