If you’ve been looking around for WordPress hosting you might have come across a number of companies offering it for free. Whilst we all love a free service, using one does not guarantee that it is the best choice for your website. There is often a world of difference between what’s on offer from a free hosting package and what you get with a paid hosting service. In this post, we’ll look at the differences between free and paid WordPress hosting so that you can clearly see which is the best choice for you.
1. Your own domain name
Every website has a unique domain name which enables people to find it on the internet. Ours, for example, is eUKhost.com. If you run a business, you’ll need a domain that contains your brand or your company name.
Unfortunately, with a free hosting account, this isn’t 100% achievable. You’ll be able to use your brand name somewhere in the domain name, but you’ll also have to include the name of the hosting provider. If you use a paid hosting service, however, you can have your own domain name without the unwanted hostname. Here’s an example of the difference.
With paid hosting: joesbuilders.com
With free hosting: joesbuilders.freebiehostingservices.com
As you can see, the free hosting domain looks much less professional than the paid hosting domain. This can have a significant impact on how customers perceive your brand.
The other issue is that the free domain essentially remains the property of the hosting provider. If ‘freebiehostingservices.com’ goes out of business, you’ll lose your domain name. This means you’ll need to find a new one and you’ll lose all the traffic that used to come through your old address. If you purchase your own domain name, it’s yours for as long as you need it and provided you pay the annual registration fee, no-one can deprive you of it.
2. Technical support
Running a website can be challenging and there are quite a few technical problems that can raise their heads unexpectedly. If you are trading online, the last thing you need is for your website to go down and be unable to get the matter resolved quickly.
Most free hosting providers will offer some form of technical support, however, there is usually a 24 to 48-hour response time with these kinds of services and you limited to email support often via a third-party. This can be a real problem if you are likely to lose sales during that period or need your website online.
In addition, a free hosting provider might not have the in-house expertise needed to solve WordPress specific issues. Although WordPress is the most commonly used website building platform, not every customer support service can offer guidance in this area.
When you use a paid WordPress hosting service, you’ll be guaranteed that the web host knows the platform inside out and that they are available 24/7, via phone, online chat and email, to help with any technical issues. This way, if you accidentally delete a file or install an incompatible plugin, your site can be back online in no time.
3. Guaranteed uptime
Another key requirement for websites is that they stay online. You need a web host who will maintain their servers in a way that prevents them breaking down and ensures that any scheduled maintenance or software upgrades take place as quickly as possible and at a time that’s least likely to affect your business.
If you are getting a service for free, you cannot always be sure these guarantees are included. When you pay for hosting, the host knows you’ll have higher expectations of their service. Most paid hosting providers guarantee uptime of 99.95% and upwards and this level of availability is included in the contract.
4. Bandwidth and storage space
Bandwidth is the amount of data your website sends and receives over the internet in any given billing period. It works a bit like phone data. Every time someone visits your site, you’ll use up some of your bandwidth.
In the early days of the internet, most web hosts used to give customers a monthly bandwidth limit. If you went over that limit, i.e. you had lots of visitors, your website could no longer be visited until the next billing period started. The only alternative was to upgrade to a more expensive package.
These days, most paid hosts provide unlimited bandwidth – in other words, there’s no limit on the number of visitors you can have. However, this is not the case with many free hosting companies who deliberately restrict bandwidth in order to get customers to sign up for their premium paid hosting.
The situation is similar with the amount of storage you are allowed to use. If you have a website with lots of pages or images or if you install a lot of plugins, you may find that you run out of the storage allowance that comes with free hosting.
5. Vendor lock-in
Before choosing a free hosting option, you should always consider why a company would go to the expense of offering a free service in the first place. One of the reasons is that they may be using free hosting as a honey trap.
Offering a free service undoubtedly attracts a lot of customers. However, as the free hosting is very limited, people soon realise they need to upgrade to get the service their website needs. The problem for the users is that many do not know how to migrate their site to a different host and so end up paying overinflated prices for a premium account just because it is easier to stay. This is known as vendor lock-in.
If you choose an eUKhost hosting package, we’ll migrate your site to our servers for you – for free.
6. Additional extras
Many things which come free with paid hosting, such as multiple email accounts, the ability to host multiple websites and a range of essential security features, e.g. intrusion and infection monitoring, are usually offered as additional, paid extras, with free hosting accounts. When these are taken into consideration, the free hosting can often work out more expensive than paid hosting.
7. Paid hosting is cheaper than you think
Surprisingly, professional standard, dedicated WordPress hosting is incredibly inexpensive. Here at eUKhost, for example, prices start at £3.99 a month, which works out at less than a pound a week. For that, you get all the storage and bandwidth you need, as well as 24/7 WordPress expert support, guaranteed 99.95% uptime and a wealth of other benefits.
The proverb tells us never to look a gift horse in the mouth, however, in this post, this is precisely what we have done. Whilst free WordPress hosting options are available, they are extremely limited in what they offer to people wanting to set up websites, especially those who need a professional business site. For a minor investment of around a pound a week, you’ll get a far superior quality of service.
If you are looking for affordable, high-performance WordPress hosting, check out our range of WordPress packages.