You probably know that you have a choice of either paying to have your web site hosted, or of choosing a free web hosting service.
Whilst free web hosting looks an attractive proposition to begin with, it is not generally something I could recommend, if you are looking to establish a serious business presence on the web. Having said that, I do run a couple of sites with free Web hosts!
The first thing to do, is to establish what you are giving the web host in return for them offering you a free site (even on the Internet, despite what some people claim, there is no such thing as a free lunch!).
The two sites I get hosted for free are in the UK with Service Providers who make a charge for the phone calls whenever I am connected to the net via them – and I can only upload to the sites through their connection. So that is what they are getting in return – the income from the cost of the phone call.
In their cases, there are no annoying pop-up windows, and no obtrusive advertising, so visitors to the sites do not know that they are hosted for free. The downside from my point of view, is that there are none of the features that I have available from my main site – e.g. email redirect, autoresponders, visitor information etc.
Most free web hosts rely on attracting advertising revenue and therefore they will either place a banner at the top of your page, use a small frame for their advertising on your site or your visitors will encounter an irritating pop-up widow every time they access your site. Also, you may find yourself with a long, unwieldy url – is this how you want your business to be seen?
What I would say, is ask yourself if you would deal with someone offering a similar service/ product as you are promoting, who was obviously using a free site. If you would, then fine, but if not, don’t expect anyone else to deal with you!
The other important question to ask yourself is how successful are these companies going to be in attracting advertising revenue – at the moment even Yahoo and Alta Vista are reporting large falls in their advertising revenues. If your free hosts are not making any money, they will soon be out of business, as many people hosting with HotYellow have recently discovered.
If a company is taking its revenue from people who are hosting their sites with them, they are going to make every effort to provide a top class service at competitive, but profitable, prices.