With the economy hitting not only the individual but also businesses, many are looking toward free web hosting services to house their online site. For monetary reasons, this looks great on the surface. But going free is not always the best choice and may, in fact, cost your business money in the long run.
While a company may offer hosting at no cost, they are by no means not making money off of your site. Nearly all free hosting offers will involve advertising placed on your pages. These will be completely out of your control. Some companies try to gear ads toward being relevant to the site topic but this isn’t always guaranteed. Add in the very real fact that your competition may be placed on your web site and this can equal a loss of revenue for you.
Another downside to hosting for free is a severe lack of control. Most free hosting companies do not offer a control panel or an ftp access account to allow administration of a web site. This means you cannot make page changes on the fly or add in programs that may be needed by your business. If you are a retail business, this means no ability to add in a shopping cart or software that helps you control your inventory. Putting a bit of tracking coding is not an option unless you can have access to the page coding. Even attempting to change the look of your web site can be an issue. Some free hosting sites will give you access to templates and a few will even allow some minor changes made to backgrounds. But, all said, you are very limited to what you can do within your own site.
Support is another problem with free web hosting. You’ll be limited to perhaps some online forum areas to ask your questions but you won’t have numbers to call, ticket support systems or one of many options offered by paid hosting. If your business site isn’t working, this can end up costing you a lot of money.
Paid hosting these days really doesn’t put a huge dent in your pocketbook. Some hosting companies run specials on a regular basis and you’re sure to find one that will fit your budget. You can find hosting from as low as $3-$5 a month, depending on what your business web site requires. Many of these companies also give a lot of great features for your money – including unlimited web space, unlimited bandwidth and a huge assortment of easy to install programs to get your site up and running quickly.
What it boils down to
When all is said and done, you need to ensure your business is hosted with a company that you can rely on for support and also one that gives you the needed tools to ensure your online site is a success. This is one time when you do not want to “tighten your belt” or “pinch pennies.” Do a bit of research and find a good, solid hosting company with a price you can afford.