In a nutshell, no. You should definitely use professional hosting.
Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Of course they’d say that – they’re a hosting company”.
But there are several compelling reasons which I’ll explain here for you.
The thing is, if you’re just starting out in business one of the things you’re going to need is a website. There’s no way around that I’m afraid. It’s just the cost of doing business these days. Having a website is just the basic price of entry.
And of course you’ll need somewhere to host the website and you’ll need email addresses too. That’s where web hosting comes in. So let’s look at the reasons and hopefully you’ll see the benefits of professional business hosting.
Compelling Reason #1 – Free Hosting Is Not Free
It’s a good headline – ‘Free Hosting! As much as you can eat!’.
But as the saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. I mean, think about it. Why would a business go to all that trouble and expense of setting up servers, paying for rackspace, setting up a team, paying ongoing monthly costs like electricity and bandwidth and then give it all away for free?
Well there’s a really simple reason why.
Because it’s not free. It’s just a hook to reel in the punters.
At some point or another they will hit you with the real costs. Maybe it’s advertising space all over your website. Or popups appearing advertising who knows what when your potential customers are on your site.
Or maybe it isn’t really free at all. Sure, the space is free, but you have to use their website builder or the emails are chargeable. It could be any number of things.
And if they insist that you use their website builder tool then maybe it’s free for 6 months and then you have to pay for it. By which time it’s impossible for you to switch horses because you’re committed.
So check the small print very, very carefully because no business can run on giving stuff away.
Compelling Reason #2 – Noisy Neighbours Means Slow Websites
Everyone loves a bargain right? But guess what – you’re not alone.
If you choose free hosting you’ll soon find that you’re packed in their tighter than sardines in a tin in a server that is creaking at the seams with all the action.
The thing is that servers are physical devices. Sure they can stick massive 8TB hard drives in there and keep packing in all the bargain hunters, but sooner or later something’s going to give.
You’ll be fighting for key resources like the server’s CPU or RAM. These are finite resources and at some point or another that server is just going to slow down.
That’s bad news for you because if there’s one thing that your customers hate it’s a slow website. But not only your customers. Google keeps an eye on how fast websites load and they prefer fast websites.
Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself – Google has admitted that website speed is one of it’s ranking factors. Translation: we don’t like slow websites and we penalise them.
So if you want to avoid having a slow website then steer well clear of ‘Free’ hosting.
Compelling Reason #3 – Poor Uptime
With all of those customers packed in on that server along with you there’s going to be poor levels of uptime (i.e. high downtime).
Downtime is the kiss of death for a business website. It will occur when either the hardware is just overloaded or when there are no limits set on each client. If someone wants to run a script every 5 minutes that starts hanging the RAM then the server is going to need to be rebooted at some point.
One way to address that is to use a tool like CloudLinux. But the problem is that this costs money – one thing a ‘free’ host wants to avoid if they can. They’re just interested in volume, not in quality of service.
Or maybe they just haven’t invested in the best technology to keep their server uptime high. Using things like Enterprise SAS hard drives and a RAID array with hot swap disks so that they can replace faulty components on the fly without taking the website down.
These are just the type of thing that come as standard with a professional hosting service.
Compelling reason #4 – Malware
And that lack of investment will show in other key areas too, like security. If their servers aren’t secured then the chances are that they won’t know what’s being uploaded onto their servers until it’s too late.
That means that their IP reputation will suffer. That sounds complicated but it’s simple really. Let me explain.
If a server isn’t secure or monitored then hackers can upload malicious files (Malware) to exploit these security deficiencies.
One type of Malware is Phishing files. They will upload a file which then starts to send out a ton of emails trying to trick people into releasing sensitive data like login details or card payment details.
Of course at some point someone will notify the host, but not before the IP address of that server has been blacklisted by all the major Internet Service Providers.
Once that happens your emails won’t get through and maybe your website gets blacklisted in Google.
Either way, you want to be hosted on a server where security is a top concern and the hosting company is actively taking actions to monitor for Malware and taking proactive action rather than acting after the damage has been done.
Compelling Reason #5 – Bad Support
If it sounds too good to be true it usually is. If the hosting is free, what type of support will you expect?
Maybe it’s via a forum (good luck on that one) or maybe that’s when you discover the cost of their ‘free’ hosting. Maybe it’s a case of the hosting is free but support is chargeable. Maybe it’s the premium phone number you need to call or a monthly or annual support contract.
Or maybe you’re just hanging around in limbo for days unable to fix something really basic because you just can’t wait 48 hours for an email reply that asks you some basic questions and then another 48 hours to ask if you’re still having issues.
You’re running a business and your time is valuable. Much more valuable than just a few pounds or dollars or Euros it costs for professional business hosting.
With a professional host you’d expect fast answers from a professional team who care about their clients and demonstrate this with 24 hour support by live chat, phone and email.
Of course, once they’ve got you signed up be sure to check those terms and conditions. If they’ve been opaque up until now why should the leopard change it’s spots? Is there a cancellation period? How much notice do you need to give and what form does that notice take? Is it an email or do you have to go around the houses to cancel?
You need to check this out because unscrupulous businesses could then start to pursue you for non payment even though you think you have cancelled. That type of thing can cause issues with your credit rating so you need to be really careful.
Compelling Reason #6 – Lack of features
It looks good on paper this free hosting doesn’t it. But what do you actually get for nothing?
If you are determined to run a successful business then your website is going to be central to your goals as you will need it to attract new customers.
That’s going to mean a whole load of features like a blog and a mobile version. But what if your ‘free’ hosting doesn’t offer these important features? What if ‘computer says no’.
These are the types of basic features you would expect from a professional host.
Compelling Reason #7 – Domain Ransoming
Your domain name is your valuable piece of internet real estate. Or at least it should be.
Imagine your horror at discovering that part of the ‘free’ deal was for the company to register your domain name in their name and ‘hold’ it for you.
The last thing you want is someone else’s name or email address associated with your domain name. If you want to move away or make any changes they could make life very difficult for you.
Of course there are ways of appealing to the Registry through their domain ownership dispute policy, but that could take weeks and it could cost a lot of money. And even then there’s no guarantee you’ll win.
Why take the risk? Just look big and pay up in the first place and choose a reputable hosting company who won’t mess you about with your domain name.
Honestly, it isn’t worth the risk.
Free Hosting is a false economy. Sure, Pickaweb offers a free trial, but that’s so you can experience the full service including our 24 hour support.
So before you sign up for free hosting be sure to check what’s involved. Specifically, look out for the following:
Are you going to be packed into a server with thousands of other bargain hunters? If so that means a slow and insecure server that could be getting blacklisted every other day because it’s not being looked after.
Or maybe it’s got a poor uptime record and Google’s starting to notice and that’s affecting your ranking. Also check their support. Can you phone them or chat to them? Send them an email and see how they respond because that’s going to be a taste of things to come.
And check the ownership of the domain name. The last thing you can afford is to lose the rights to your domain or enter a lengthy and costly battle to get it back.