A NOTE OF CAUTION: FREE WEB HOSTING ISN’T A GOOD OPTION FOR MOST
You’re likely here because you don’t want to pay more than you need to for web hosting. Why pay more, right? The other question I’m sure you’re asking is: Free web hosting — what’s the catch?
We’ve all heard the saying there’s no such thing as free lunch, but is there such a thing as free hosting? Yes, and no. Free hosting exists, but it’s not great. You may even pay in the long run: in lost sales, man-hours, frustrations, etc.
To be brutally honest, even the best free web hosting only makes sense for a very narrow scope of websites. If you are going to run a small business or build an online presence you want to grow, I recommend paying for hosting. Some of the best web hosting services start for as little as $4/month. For the price, you’ll get increased functionality, more reliability, and better customer support. For $50 a year, it’s an investment I think is worth it for just about every site. I also have a guide on the best cheap hosting plans, which is much better than many of the free options.
All that said, I’ll walk you through the most popular free web hosts (the good and the bad), explain “the catch,” and point out a few other free options you should consider.
Compare The Top 5 Free Web Hosts
- Awardspace — The free hosting plan includes one gig of storage, a drag-and-drop site builder, and WordPress installer.
- Atspace — A lot like Awardspace, but with unlimited bandwidth and 24/7 customer support.
- Freehostia — Fast speeds and customer service in under an hour, but super small storage limits (250 MB disk space, 10MB database storage).
- Agilityhoster — A runner up. More limited storage and bandwidth, and no drag-and-drop builder.
- Byethost — Skip it. Promises of unlimited storage, bandwidth, and sites plus 5 email accounts, but so unprofessional I’d pass.
Educators and nonprofits often qualify for free (or deeply discounted) hosting by some truly excellent providers. Jump here to read more.
Pro Tip: Two Free Website Builders Offer Free Hosting
- Ucraft — If you just need one page, Ucraft’s one-page site builder will get you online and looking professional for free with a custom domain.
- Google Sites — Google is a free site builder that can host a custom domain and is a good choice for something simple like a wiki.
Hands-down the easiest way for most people to get a website up and running is using a website builder, where you can drag-and-drop content blocks and tinker around with customizable templates. Most website builders are only free if you use a subdomain (for example, our URL on a Wix subdomain would look like: quicksprout.wix.com), which is a dealbreaker for anyone who wants to run a professional-looking site. I don’t like it one bit.
What’s a custom domain? A custom domain is what switches your url from www.MyBrand.WebHost.com to www.MyBrand.com. If you’re serious about your business, you need to use a custom domain — free subdomains just scream, “I didn’t pay for this,” which is like putting up a flashing sign that says BUYER BEWARE.
I have great news, though. There are two builders that host websites for free and connect to a custom domain. They are super simple and have limited functionality — but since super simple, limited websites are the only ones I recommend hosting for free, that’s not really a problem. The two that meet these criteria are Ucraft and Google Sites.
If all you need is a super simple page — AKA the only kind of site that should run on a free host anyway — I recommend you try a free website builder that hosts custom domains, like Ucraft or Google Sites.
We’ll go into more detail on those later. First, let’s address the general caveats of free hosting. (If you’re comfortable with these, jump straight to my reviews of the top five free web hosts.)