The Best Free Hosting of 2020

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Compare Free Hosting

When creating your own website, there's really no question that paid plans are really the way to go for maximum customization, flexibility, and support.

However, maybe you don't want to invest any money in your website because it's just something you're doing for fun, or on a short-term basis. That doesn't mean that you should sacrifice basic functionality and reliability. We searched for the best free web hosts, based on speed, stability, and lack of advertising, to help you choose which host is right for you.

Best Free Web Hosting of 2020

Best Free Web Hosting Services 2020 Badge

How Did We Pick the Best Free Hosts?

We created a list of the free web hosting plans that offer acceptable levels of stability and speed - and as much as possible a lack of ads. Then we used our thousands of customer reviews to determine the top-10 free web hosts.

Best Free Web Hosting Plans: We Review Your Options

compare free hosting

Yes, the hosts featured on this page offer real web hosting packages at no cost.

Be sure to read our in-depth reviews for the details and see what their customers say.

Is Free Hosting Right for You?

With free web hosting, you can get your website online at zero cost. Sound too good to be true?

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Web Hosting?

Sometimes you do get what you pay for. Free hosting plans lack a lot of the features of paid hosting.

You're not going to get unlimited bandwidth or blazing fast load times with free hosting. You also may get limited customer service options, for example, there may be no live chat.

But a free hosting plan just might fit your needs and save you some money, especially if you...

  • Try before you buy: Want to get a feel for what web hosting is like before you buy
  • Are testing a website idea you aren't sure you'll continue with
  • Need to host a small, simple website on a short-term basis (like for an event)

When Free Hosting Might Not be Right for You

Otherwise, you may want to look into a paid, cheap web hosting plan if you need more reliable hosting with better customer support.

Shared hosting plans can be as low as $5 per month, or even lower.

If the success and reliability of your website really matter to you, investing in a paid hosting account will be worth it if you can fit the expense in your budget.

But even shared hosting may not be enough if you're:

  • Launching a large e-commerce site
  • Creating a website that runs on a large database
  • Or generally, if you depend on your website for the success of your business.

If any of those sound like you, you may want to look at VPS or dedicated server hosting.

↓ If your site ↓↓ Consider ↓
Free HostingShared HostingVPS or Dedicated
is being built in 1 hour
is temporary
is very small (5-20 pages)
is a blog
has lots of visuals
sells products/services
allows user logins
has >5k visits/day

Free Web Hosting Reviews

000WebHost

000WebHost Logo

For entry-level developers who want an inexpensive space to play and learn, 000WebHost may be the ideal free web host.

This web hosting service provider, which is powered by Hostinger, supports popular programming languages like PHP, MySQL, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and more. Users can create a website for free with 000WebHost, and experiment with code to their heart's content.

000WebHost comes with cPanel, so novice users can get familiar with this popular admin panel. Meanwhile, those with more experience can jump in and create their website with 000WebHost's free website builder. Those who want to build their site with WordPress will appreciate 000WebHost's automatic WordPress installation.

000WebHost guarantees that their web hosting will always be free, but if users outgrow their 3 GB of bandwidth and 300 MB of disk space, they have the option to upgrade to one of 000WebHost's three paid plans.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free Web Hosting:
$0
Single Shared Hosting:
$0.79/month
Premium Shared Hosting:
$2.31/month
Business Shared Hosting:
$3.19/month

30-day

>Website builder
>Cloudflare protection
>99% uptime
>More features at 000WebHost

Pros & Cons of 000WebHost Web Hosting

000WebHost gives its free users 3 GB of bandwidth, which should suffice for the traffic needs of a small site or blog. They also don't place their own ads on free users' sites. However, free users only get a free subdomain, not their own top-level domain. Additionally, there is no email account included in free hosting accounts.

Pros

Cons

>3 GB bandwidth
>No ads

>No email account
>Domain not included

What Customers Are Saying

Users who host their website through 000WebHost give the company high marks for their reliability, pricing, and interface. "I love that it is really easy to host simple web pages and use my own domain," writes one customer, who added that their website was up and running in under an hour.

AwardSpace

AwardSpace Logo

With more than 2 million users, AwardSpace is one of the most popular free web hosting platforms. Their focus is helping users get their websites operating as quickly as possible.

Users can sign up via email or a social media account, and get their AwardSpace account instantly activated. Their 1-Click CMS Installer allows users to install the content management system of their choice, like WordPress or Joomla, in as little as five minutes. For those who don't want to use a CMS, AwardSpace also includes a free website builder in their package.

Speaking of that website, AwardSpace lets users with free accounts host one free domain, and up to three subdomains. Users can also create an email account for their website. This web host assists its users with 24/7 customer service, as well as full MySQL database support. Upgrades are available to one of AwardSpace's three paid web hosting plans.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free Web Hosting:
$0
Single Shared Hosting:
$0.79/month
Premium Shared Hosting:
$2.31/month
Business Shared Hosting:
$3.19/month

30-day

>99% uptime
>1-Click WordPress installer
>24/7 customer support
>More features at AwardSpace

Pros & Cons of AwardSpace Web Hosting

AwardSpace gives its users one dx.am domain for free; in order to get a .com domain, users must subscribe to one of AwardSpace's paid plans. Other perks that come with a free AwardSpace hosting account include 1000 MB of disk space, 5 GB of bandwidth, three subdomains, and zero AwardSpace ads.

Pros

Cons

>3 free subdomains
>No ads
1000MB disk space

>.com domains only available with paid plans

What Customers Are Saying

AwardSpace users call the web hosting service provider "reliable, powerful, and easy-to-use." Writes one customer, "This is the best free hosting I have ever seen." Adds another user, "I have used many hosts in the past, and AwardSpace has by far exceeded them all."

Byet.Host

Byet.Host Logo

Byet.Host, which is part of iFastNet, offers a wide array of web hosting services. This includes a robust free web hosting plan, which is ideal for blogs, basic small business websites, or other projects with minimal needs.

Thanks to Byet.Host's load-balanced clustered hosting network of servers, subscribers can feel confident that their websites will load quickly, and be online 99 percent of the time. Byet.Host gives users a number of tools to create their websites, including VistaPanel, their proprietary control panel; Softaculous, an application that lets users install hundreds of popular scripts, and a website builder with dozens of templates.

While Byet.Host does not let you create your own domain name through the service, if you have a domain registered elsewhere, you can migrate it over to Byet.Host. Users do get their choice of subdomain, as well as the ability to create up to five email accounts.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free Web Hosting:
$0
Super Premium Monthly:
$4.99/month
Super Premium Annual:
$47.88/year
Ultimate Monthly:
$7.99/month
Ultimate Annual:
$83.88/year

No

>99.9% uptime
>Website builder
>Specially-designed control panel
>More features at Byet.Host

Pros & Cons of Byet.Host Web Hosting

Among free web hosts, Byet.Host stands out for letting users create five email addresses, and three subdomains. They also offer 24/7 support, and do not place their own ads on websites. As for drawbacks, Byet.Host does not give users a free top-level domain, and limits maximum file size.

Pros

Cons

>24/7 customer support
>5 email addresses
>No ads

>Domain not included
>10 MB maximum file size

What Customers Are Saying

Byet.Host users say that the web hosting service provider is a great choice for small, personal websites. "It is the quickest, most reliable free host I've used yet for my small hobby project," writes one customer. Adds another user, "It's an excellent environment for learning and testing."

Free Web Hosting Area

Free-Web-Hosting-Area-Logo

While it's true that Free Web Hosting Area's website looks a bit dated and unsophisticated, it's also true that the company has been providing robust, reliable free web hosting since 2005, making it one of the top picks on our list.

Free Web Hosting Area prides itself on delivering fast speeds, thanks to their multi-CPU dedicated servers with industry-standard solid state drives. Instant account activation also allows users to get their websites published as quickly as possible.

Other tools the Free Web Hosting Area offers include MySQL databases powered by MariaDB 10.2, phpMyAdmin for database administration, SSI support, and an FTP application with a WYSIWYG file editor. While technical advice for script installation is limited, Free Web Hosting Area promises responsive support to help solve reported issues or problems with individual accounts. Daily backups also help protect websites, and ensure that they are running reliably.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free Web Hosting: $0
Paid: $12/year

No

>99.8% uptime
>Daily back-ups
>Full FTP support
>More features at Free Web Hosting Area

Pros & Cons of Free Web Hosting Area Web Hosting

Free Web Hosting Area gives users a generous 1500MB of disk space and an inexpensive paid plan if users need to upgrade. However, they lack a website builder, and a top-level domain is not included. Additionally, they will only delete inactive accounts, not at user's request.

Pros

Cons

>1500MB disk space
>Users can add their own ads

>Will only delete inactive accounts
>No website builder
>No free domain

What Customers Are Saying

Free Web Hosting Area offers customers a lot of features for an easy-on-the-wallet price. "There's a lot to like," about Free Web Hosting Area, according to one reviewer. "That includes unmetered traffic, 1.5GB disk space, daily backups, MySQL databases and responsive support."

FreeHostia

FreeHostia Logo

FreeHostia offers various types of web hosting services, including the tantalizingly named Chocolate free plan.

Users who create an account with this plan get access to FreeHostia's load-balanced cluster hosting platform, which guarantees fast speeds and quality performance. They also strive to maintain optimal server performance with 24/7 monitoring and frequent upgrades.

The Chocolate plan includes five hosted domains and three email accounts. FreeHostia offers a 1-click applications installer, as well as a website builder, so users can create their website through a CMS, or a simple WYSIWYG editor. Their template library boasts a number of professional-looking themes that can be easily customized.

With 250MB of disk space and 6GB of monthly traffic, the Chocolate plan is ideal for small websites or blogs. For users who need more storage space and bandwidth, FreeHostia offers four other shared hosting plans, as well as VPS and dedicated server hosting.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Chocolate:
$0
Watercircle:
$2.95/month
Lovebeat:
$4.95/month
Wildhoney:
$7.95/month
Supernatural:
$9.95/month

30-day

>99.9% uptime
>1-Click application installer
>Website builder
>More features at FreeHostia

Pros & Cons of FreeHostia Web Hosting

One of the key perks of FreeHostia is that it provides 24/7 customer support to all users. Their offer for up to five hosted domains and three email accounts is also unique. However, they only provide 250MB of disk space, which is on the lower end of the spectrum, even for free hosting plans.

Pros

Cons

>3 email accounts
>24/7 customer support

>250MB disk space
>500KB file size limit

What Customers Are Saying

FreeHostia customers strongly recommend this web host, especially for small businesses that might need a low-cost service. "I always recommend FreeHostia because they have never let me down," writes one user. "I cannot praise them enough. Service, support, and price make them unbeatable in my book."

FreeHosting

FreeHosting Logo

If you couldn't tell from the name, FreeHosting is a straightforward free web hosting service provider. While they do offer a paid plan option, their focus is on providing web hosting at no cost for the entire lifetime of your domain.

FreeHosting recommends its free hosting services for lightweight WordPress sites and blogs, Internet forums, or simple websites created with its own website builder. For those who prefer using a CMS, FreeHosting includes a 1-click application installer and cPanel. Otherwise, users can build their website using FreeHosting's pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop editor.

On the technical end, FreeHosting provides PHP 7 and OPcache, ensuring faster speeds and better website performance. They also offer a Percona server for MySQL server with XtraDB storage engine, which delivers maximum performance and data safety.

There are several add-ons available, including additional mailboxes and databases; subdomains; SSL certificates; more PHP scripts, and hands-on technical support.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free: $0
Paid: $7.99/month

30-day

>Website builder
>Apps installer
>Upgrades available
>More features at FreeHosting

Pros & Cons of FreeHosting Web Hosting

One perk of FreeHosting is that users get 10GB of storage, which is significantly more than some other free web hosts provide. FreeHosting also promises unmetered bandwidth, and gives each free user one email account. On the downside, they do not offer free domains or subdomains, preventing their services from being completely free.

Pros

Cons

>1 email account
10GB storage
Unmetered bandwidth

>No free domain
>No subdomain hosting

What Customers Are Saying

FreeHosting has built a loyal fan base by being reliable, user friendly, and affordable. "I've tried numerous paid and free sites, and found FreeHosting offers the best services," writes one customer. Adds another customer, "You can't find this type of service for free anywhere else."

GoogieHost

GoogieHost Logo

Users who need to create a website quickly and cheaply may want to take a closer look at GoogieHost. This web hosting service provider lets users quickly create an account and a website using a free subdomain. They also offer paid registration for a top-level domain name, or users can bring a previously registered domain name with them when they sign up.

Free users can host a single website with GoogieHost, and they have the option of building their site with GoogieHost's free Site.Pro website builder, or a CMS. Those who choose the website builder will find an extensive library of specifically designed, customizable templates. Users who prefer creating a CMS-based website can install nearly 500 popular scripts with the Softaculous auto installer.

GoogieHost provides users with up to 1000MB of SSD disk space, and 100GB of bandwidth, and offers support via forums, tutorials, and a knowledge base.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free: $0
Paid: $8.95/month

30-day

>99.99% uptime
>Website builder
>Unlimited bandwidth
>More features at GoogieHost

Pros & Cons of GoogieHost Web Hosting

GoogieHost gives its free users a generous 1000MB of storage, which should be sufficient for most users, especially considering GoogieHost only gives users one website. Another perk is that they don't place ads on free accounts. One drawback to GoogieHost is that their customer support for free users is limited to forums and tutorials.

Pros

Cons

>1000MB storage
>No ads
>Free subdomains

>Limited customer support
>Multiple accounts not available

What Customers Are Saying

Customers like GoogieHost for being an affordable and reliable free web hosting service provider. "I have been using GoogieHost for three months, and this free hosting is better than any other platform's paid hosting," writes one customer, who praises GoogieHost for fast loading speeds and security.

HyperPHP

HyperPHP Logo

Whether you are looking to transfer an existing website to a different host, or create a brand-new website from scratch, HyperPHP free hosting might be the answer.

They allow users to transfer an existing domain to their service, free of charge, and even offer technical assistance to help with the migration process. If you don't already have a top-level domain, you will need to register one, as HyperPHP does not offer a domain to free subscribers. However, they do offer sub-domains.

Another key thing to note about HyperPHP is that they do not have a website builder, so they are more suited to those who want to create their website with a CMS like WordPress or Joomla. They provide the Softaculous auto installer, which enables users to quickly and easily install a number of applications. Other features include MySQL databases, PHP support, and an FTP account with File Manager.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free:
$0
Starter:
$19.99/year
Super Premium:
$4.99/month
Ultimate Premium:
$7.99/month

30-day

>99.9% uptime
>Vista Panel control panel
>Free domain transfer
>More features at HyperPHP

Pros & Cons of HyperPHP Web Hosting

HyperPHP promises users a significant amount of tech support, including for those who are transferring an existing domain. Users also get free email accounts, although HyperPHP doesn't specify how many. They also do not have a website builder function, and automatic database back-ups are not included, potentially putting your website at risk.

Pros

Cons

>1000MB disk space
>Free tech support
>Webmail email accounts

>No website builder
>No database backup

What Customers Are Saying

HyperPHP's customers are enthusiastic about this web hosting service provider for its simplicity and effectiveness. "I really love this site," writes one user. "I've been with it for three months now, and it's perfect for that new user who doesn't need all those crazy extra functions."

InfinityFree

Infinity-Free-Logo

InfinityFree boasts that it offers "everything you could possibly need for your website." This includes unlimited disk space and bandwidth, free subdomain names, 99.9% uptime, and more.

Users can quickly build their website using popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, thanks to the Softaculous auto installer, which is included with a free InfinityFree account. Softaculous has over 400 applications that can be used for e-commerce, blogs, forums, image galleries, and more.

Other InfinityFree features include full .htaccess support, free DNS service, free SSL on your own domains, MySQL 5.6, and PHP 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, and 7.4. With unlimited disk space, InfinityFree users can host more robust websites than might be possible on other web hosting services. If users outgrow the limitations of the free plan, they can upgrade to InfinityFree's paid Super Premium or Ultimate Premium plan.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

InfinityFree:
$0
Super Premium:
$3.99/month
Ultimate Premium:
$6.90

7-day

>99% uptime
>cPanel included
>Free SSL certificates
>More features at InfinityFree

Pros & Cons of InfinityFree Web Hosting

Although InfinityFree states that it offers unlimited bandwidth, websites hosted on their free plan are limited to 50,000 hits per day. They also do not provide email accounts, or free top-level domains. However, their promise of unlimited disk space, and free technical support may compensate for those deficiencies, depending on users' specific needs.

Pros

Cons

>Unlimited disk space
>Free tech support

>No email accounts
>Limited to 50,000 daily hits

What Customers Are Saying

Many customers praise InfinityFree web hosting for being powerful yet intuitive, and affordable. "InfinityFree is the world's best free hosting provider," writes one user. "Their service is amazing, with so many features to choose from. Plus, friendly customer service and fast responses."

Weebly

Weebly Logo

Weebly is a popular website builder that includes web hosting with all its packages. Using a website builder is an ideal option for those who don't feel confident enough in their technical skills to create a website using a CMS like WordPress.

There are four plans available, including Weebly's Basic free plan. In addition to getting access to Weebly's drag-and-drop website builder tool, Basic users get standard features like a free SSL certificate, and the ability to easily add custom code to track their website's performance.

For those who are looking for a place to host an e-commerce site for free, Weebly is worth considering. The Basic plan offers a lot of e-commerce functionality, including a shopping cart, expedited checkout, item badges and options, inventory management, automatic tax collector, and more.

If you outgrow the limits of your Basic site, it's easy to upgrade to one of Weebly's three paid plans.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free:
$0
Personal:
$6/month
Professional:
$12/month
Performance:
$26/month

30-day

>99% uptime
>Website builder
>SSL certificate
>More features at Weebly

Pros & Cons of Weebly Web Hosting

Weebly offers solid customer support, and a variety of SEO and e-commerce tools, which are hard to find with free plans. One drawback is that users cannot connect their own domain name. It's also important to remember that, since Weebly is a website builder, you cannot transfer your website to a different host.

Pros

Cons

>SEO and e-commerce functionality
>Chat and email support

>No free domain
>Cannot transfer website to another host

What Customers Are Saying

Weebly is popular among website creators, especially those with limited technical knowledge. "I put [my website] together with little coding knowledge and a perfectionist personality," writes one customer. "If I had found this before, I would have made hundreds more sites. If you're looking for a website creator, use Weebly!"

Wix

Wix Logo

Another popular website builder, Wix lets users create and host websites for free, or through one of their four premium paid plans.

Wix is an ideal choice for those who want to use a website builder, but still want a lot of control over their website design. Basic features of Wix's free plan include access to over 500 templates, and an intuitive drag-and-drop editor for easy customization. Wix's editor also includes advanced design features like scroll effects, animation, a font library, and image galleries. All websites are automatically optimized for mobile viewing.

There are also a number of tools available to help users track and grow their website's performance, including visitor and SEO analytics, subscriber sign-up forms, social media tools, and more. Because Wix also offers paid plans with more storage, bandwidth and features, if your site grows enough, it's easy to upgrade to meet your needs.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free: $0
Combo: $13/month
Unlimited: $17/month
Pro: $22/month
VIP: $39/month

14-day

>99% uptime
>Website builder
>Mobile optimized websites
>More features at Wix

Pros & Cons of Wix Web Hosting

A unique Wix feature is Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence), which will build a website for you based on information you provide. Since Wix is a website builder, websites created on the site cannot be moved to another web host. Users also need a paid plan if they want a custom domain.

Pros

Cons

>Automatic data backup
>Wix ADI

>No free domain
>Cannot transfer website to another host

What Customers Are Saying

For customers with basic website building and hosting needs, Wix is a popular solution. "I have had an overall positive experience with Wix," writes one customer. "I have been using them for years. You can make really groovy websites that look like a pro made them."

WordPress.com

wordpress logo

Not to be confused with WordPress.org, which is a CMS that lets users build websites that they can host anywhere, WordPress.com is the company's all-in-one website building and hosting platform.

While WordPress.com is more restrictive than WordPress.org, it is more than capable of meeting the needs of users who want to publish a free, simple blog or website. The free WordPress.com plan gives users 3GB of storage space, which is usually sufficient for small sites.

WordPress.com provides users with an extensive library of themes, which they can customize to meet their specific needs. Users can further customize their sites with easy-to-install plug-ins for forms, SEO, back-ups, and more.

The free plan includes WordPress.com's Jetpack Essential Features, which are designed to ensure fast speeds, and protect your website from spammers. They also include a free SSL certificate, to further protect your site.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free:
$0
Personal:
$4/month
Premium:
$8/month
Business:
$25/month
E-Commerce:
$45/month

30-day

>99% uptime
>Website builder
>SSL certificate
>More features at WordPress.com

Pros & Cons of WordPress.com Web Hosting

A key pro of WordPress.com's free web hosting is the abundant storage space you get. Their maintenance team also takes care of all site back-ups, optimizations, and upgrades for you. On the downside, free users do not get a custom top-level domain, and WordPress.com will include their own ads on your site.

Pros

Cons

>3GB storage space
>All maintenance included

>Domain not included
>WordPress.com ads

What Customers Are Saying

WordPress.com has built up a loyal customer base by being a flexible yet easy-to-use platform for web hosting. "Great site for building your own blog," writes one customer. "While there are more 'luxurious' systems, [WordPress] is just a great value for side projects."

x10Hosting

x10hosting logo

With 10 years of experience in web hosting, x10Hosting is a trusted, reliable provider of free and paid web hosting services.

They offer a feature-rich free hosting plan that gives users the flexibility to create their website with an intuitive, drag-and-drop website builder, or a popular CMS platform like WordPress or Joomla, or MyBB. Advanced web hosting tools include the latest cPanel X3 control panel, as well as a simplified proprietary control panel; MySQL databases; FTP accounts, and the ability to configure email inboxes and domains.

x10Hosting runs on cloud SSD servers, guaranteeing flexibility, stability, and reliably fast speeds. Their hosting servers are configured to protect against hardware and software issues, as well as outside security threats.

Users who need more features or power can upgrade to a paid plan with x10Hosting with a simple click of a button, making this an easy, scalable solution to web hosting.

Price

Money-Back Guarantee

Features

Free:
$0
Monthly:
$$6.95/month
1 Year:
$5.95/month
2 Years:
$4.95/month
3 Years:
$3.95/month

Yes

>99.9% uptime
>Website builder
>Database backup
>More features at x10Hosting

Pros & Cons of x10Hosting Web Hosting

x10Hosting gives users the option to use either the more advanced, industry-standard cPanel, or ease into it with a simplified, in-house developed control panel. While x10Hosting's free plan gives users their own email account, it does not include a top-level domain. Customer support is also somewhat limited with their free plan.

Pros

Cons

>Over 200 auto-install scripts
>Email account included
>cPanel

>Limited customer support
>No free domain

What Customers Are Saying

x10Hosting is a popular web hosting choice for individuals who are just starting out with website development. "I've been using x10Hosting for six months," writes one customer. "I've been very pleased by the quality of their service, which beats all competitors in several fields, such as bandwidth and disk space."

How Can Hosting be Free?

A host can't survive if all they offered was free hosting. Servers and support cost money. There are 2 major ways that the hosts on this page, and other free hosts, survive.

The first is through selling other services.

Just like certain video games, you can start for free, but if you want access to all the features and better performance, you'll need to pay.

Some free hosts are very pushy about this, and others just let you upgrade if you feel like you need to.

wordpress-com

WordPress.com, a popular provider of free hosted sites, offers users the option to upgrade to a paid plan. This will give you an ad-free site, and, depending on the plan you choose, give you additional features.

Free Hosting Sometimes Comes With Advertising

The other option for hosts is to make money through advertising that they place on your site.

You can't control the ads in any way, other than to pay for them to stop. This scares away most customers, which is why this isn't too popular of a model.

How Do You Host a Site on a Free Host?

A free host plan works similar to most paid host packages. You'll create an account, and start by selecting a domain name.

All free web hosts let you pick a custom free sub-domain name (e.g. "yourdomainname.freewebhostname.com"). You don't typically want to use a subdomain for any type of professional website as it looks cheap and is hard to remember.

Most hosts give you the option of purchasing a domain name, either through them or through a third party domain name registrar.

free-hosting

In this example, I'm setting up a free hosted blog via WordPress.com. One of the first steps is to choose your free sub-domain name. Given there are millions of blogs on WordPress.com already, someone may have already chosen the free subdomain you want. If your choice is followed by lots of numbers (as in this case), you may want to choose a different sub-domain name. Or consider buying a domain outright.

Creating Your Free Hosted Site

To actually create your site, there are usually 2 main options in your account's control panel:

  1. A script installer - A script installer lets you install software, including popular content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress. If you're coming from a popular paid host, you've probably already used the Softaculous script installer. Softaculous gives you easy one-click installs of WordPress and hundreds of apps. Free hosts usually offer either Softaculous or Zacky.
  2. A site builder - Some free hosts include a free drag-and-drop site builder to use. These are nice for small websites if you don't want to learn how a CMS works. You just click on text on the page and edit it like a typical text document.

It's typically pretty difficult to find a free web host service that supports obscure custom frameworks, although there are a few that support ASP.NET.

One final main option often included in control panels is the option to create a free e-mail account. This lets you send and receive emails to a custom email address for your domain.

Can I Get Free PHP Hosting?

Most popular web applications (like WordPress and Drupal) are written in PHP.

Most free hosting users will be particularly interested in how well free plans support popular PHP scripts.

php
PHP powers popular CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. It's also used on major sites like Wikipedia and Facebook.

Before we look at limitations of free PHP hosting, let's review the limitations that commonly apply to all free hosting:

  • Severely limited email and FTP support
  • Slow customer support response times
  • Severely limited or non-existent automatic installation scripts.

Now let's look at additional considerations that apply to users who hope to run a PHP application on a free hosting account.

Typical Minimum Requirements for PHP Applications

To get a sense for the minimum server requirements for some popular PHP applications let's take a look at three of the most common scripts: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

  • WordPress requires PHP version 5.2. and MySQL version 5.0.
  • Joomla requires PHP version 5.3.10, and MySQL version 5.1.
  • Drupal version 7.38 requires PHP version 5.2.5 and MySQL version 5.0.15.

In every case, higher versions of PHP and MySQL are recommended by the software developers, but the applications will run as long as these minimum version requirements are met.

what-is-mysql

MySQL databases are used in a number of popular content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

In terms of storage, a typical small website built with any of these applications will require between 50-100 MB of disk space before taking media files into account.

Media files, and streaming media types such as podcasts and videos, in particular, can quickly increase this figure dramatically.



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Potential Problems With Free PHP Hosting

Taking those minimum requirements into account, two issues are immediately apparent.

Every free plan we looked at advertises PHP 5 and MySQL 5, however, none reveal the exact version running on the free account server.

An installation of any one of these three applications will have problems, and potentially fail to function at all, if the version of PHP or MySQL isn't sufficiently up-to-date.

Site Load Times with Free PHP Hosting: Slow as a Sloth?

With free hosting, you can expect the page load time for PHP applications to be poor.

If you were planning on just hosting static HTML and CSS files, you'd probably be ok, but a PHP application imposes a much heavier load on server resources, and free hosting servers are notoriously resource-starved.

pingdom speed test
You can test your website speed with Pingdom's free tester. To show you an example, I ran the speed test on cnn.com. This screengrab shows some of the results.

One host went so far as to admit that the number of accounts hosted on a free-account shared server was very large.

Be aware: if your site pages take too long to load, visitors may become impatient and leave your site.

Page loading times are important; even more so for the mobile version of your site.

mobile site speed

In addition, ZendOptimizer was not offered by any free plan we saw, which may further slow down PHP processing further. (Note: ZendOptimizer is included in PHP 5.3 and later.)

Database Allowances: On the Skimpy Side

While the disk space included in every plan was adequate for an installation of a typical PHP application, the database size allowed was very small.

Every plan allowed only a single MySQL database with a maximum size between 10 and 20 MB.

That will be enough for a very small blog and website, but websites with a considerable amount of content, as well as certain application themes and plugins, will quickly burn through the allowable database size.

Content management systems like Drupal and WordPress store data from your website in a database.

Your database will include data like:

  1. Website pages
  2. Blog posts
  3. Images
  4. Videos
  5. Ratings
  6. Categories and tags
  7. Custom fields
  8. Shopping cart contents
  9. Registrations
  10. Comments
  11. Discussion forum posts

Can I Customize the php.ini File?

Another limitation imposed by every free plan we looked at was the inability to customize settings in the php.ini file.

This is where your free host starts to sound like Grumpy Cat, with his curt "No."

Without the ability to customize PHP settings, runtime, maximum file upload size, and other PHP parameters will default to the server settings, and if those settings don't work for your application, you're just out of luck.

free hosting spam

Spam In Your Future? (Mail, Not the Meat)

Lastly, PHP offers a mail function that many websites use to send information from online contact forms to a designated email address.

This PHP mail function is also used to send notification emails to visitors who opt to subscribe to website updates.

However, since free hosting attracts a lot of unsavory activity, such as heavy spamming, it's likely the free hosting server will be flagged as a spam originator by most Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

What Does ISP Do?

Then ISPs will block delivery of these emails.

This can cause your email sender reputation to suffer, making it harder and harder to achieve delivery (and get the opens and clicks you want).

You want to avoid this headache. Some site owners experience months of aggravation (and significant costs) to undo the aftermath of being labeled a spammer.

pros-cons-free-hosting

Pros and Cons: The Bottom Line for PHP Scripts and Free Hosting

Pros of Free Hosting

  • Most common PHP applications will probably install and run acceptably on free hosting accounts.
  • Free hosts that include site builders give you a quick way of getting a countdown, announcement, event, or form site up quickly.
  • Free hosts are a good match for temporary sites.
  • You can use a free host with a site builder as a way to get your feet wet with DIY site creation.
  • Some free hosts like WordPress.com, offer low-cost upgrades. Once your site starts to grow, it'll be easy to expand your features.

Cons of Free Hosting

  • If the free account server is running an antiquated version of PHP or MySQL this will cause compatibility issues with the PHP script you have chosen. Your site may not function properly.
  • Website visitors will have a suboptimal experience due to slow load times.
  • Users of free hosting should keep images, streaming media, and animation use to a minimum, due to slow loading times.
  • Free hosting customers should not plan on using the PHP mail function since it's likely any mail originating from the server will be flagged as spam.
best free web hosts

So who are the top dogs? Let's take a look.

Best Cheap Hosting: Which Company Is Right For You In 2018?

Shared Hosting: The Best Hosting Deals For 2018 Revealed By Our Experts

Launching Your First Blog in 2018: The "How To" Guide




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