Despite a seemingly ongoing debate as to which is better, free hosting or shared hosting platforms, it all really comes down to several factors with all of them being quite reasonable. Basically, it all depends on what your needs are as a user. Below, I cover several aspects that may help users or potential users decide which is the better path to take in their website journey–a shared vs free web hosting plan. However, let’s first define just what is a shared vs free web hosting platform.
Basically, found on web host sites that offer a combination of other hosting features, free web host sites are typically, but not exclusively, supported by advertising. However, there are several good quality sites that offer free hosting plans without any advertising on them, but they do have a reduced number of features.
Shared Web Hosting
Sharing the site with several other users on the site, shared hosting plans partition space for individual websites. Then, they share the resources available such as storage and computing power among all the other website users on the site; however, each website remains individual.
When To Use Free Hosting
What may seem as obvious, economically speaking, free hosting plans do serve various positive functions other than saving money. A free hosting web site is the ideal environment to upload, text and perform trial runs for a web site about to be launched on the Internet.
Through it, one can run patterns to test for tech support responsiveness, uptime and integrity in billing practices. Once a web site user checks all of these mentioned factors out, he or she may decide on keeping it as a possible partner for future web site projects–on a paid basis. That is, of course, what the web host is hoping eventually will happen.
When To Use Shared Hosting
Providing a less expensive alternative to dedicated web host platforms, shared hosting becomes the platform of choice for those that have smaller web sites and a less amount of web visitor traffic. In fact, over 90 percent of web users today are shared users utilizing the services of a shared vs free hosting plan.
Free Hosting Advantages
Money aspect aside, they prove themselves over time for those who are basically venturing into website design and ownership for the first time. Getting the feel for website maintenance, possible website glitches and a host of other problems that may arise, users can best determine which way to go–shared vs free web hosting plans.
That being said, while recommended for first time website exposure, this is not the mode for those in web site work over a long haul.
Free Hosting Disadvantages
There can be many disadvantages that can easily offset the advantages of free web hosting platforms. Among the most obvious is the amount of limited space one can use for storage or the bandwidth consumption that is allowed.
If one is thinking in terms of large graphics or videos presentations, this is also a drawback. If a free web host wishes to advertise on the site in order to earn some revenue, it is many times obtrusive.
Typically, a free web hosting site has their domain name parked with your unique name such as www.your name.webhostdomain.com. In addition, their tech support may be physically there but not mentally in many instances, and their up-time may be non-existent for the most part.
Shared Hosting Advantages
In a nutshell, shared hosting costs a minimal amount more, either on a monthly or annual basis, but their advantages far outweigh the minimum expense.
Providing a virtually unlimited amount of resources, a guaranteed uptime availability and no unsightly ads on your site, make this the choice platform for an increasing amount of website owners.
Another advantage is that no really technical maintenance routines are needed when running programs as this is typically done by the support staff in many shared hosting plans.
In essence, all a user has to do is upload their website or web-based system and have it configured to work using the web site owner’s own preferences. User-friendly, web-based control panels make it an especially simple task to upload one’s website, create email account, FTP accounts and databases.
Shared Hosting Disadvantages
Basically, there are no disadvantages to shared hosting plans–except one. Because of the nature of sharing web resources with other web site owners, things may slow down somewhat due to the shared traffic, CPU cycles, maintenance routines and email capabilities.
How Much Do They Cost?
Being a free web host plan naturally costs nothing. On shared hosting plans, costs can run the gamut from anywhere in the $1 to tens of thousands of dollars a year. A dedicated server of your own can up the price tag average to over $1,000 annually. Naturally, it all depends on the needs, features used, expectations, traffic and budget.
Furthermore, factor in items such as a domain name which runs an average of $12.00 a year and more depending on the domain level and several web hosting ad-ons, and you’ll find like everything else in life, you get what you paid for.
Some typical but sometimes necessary ad-on features include:
- Additional domain names: $14.99 per year of registration
- Dedicated IP: $3.99 per month
- SSL certificates: $59.88 per year
- Spam Protection mail filtering: $2.99 a month per domain name
- Privacy: $11.88 domain privacy per domain per year
- Site lock protection: Starting at $23.88 per domain per year
- Site backup/restore: $23.88 per year
- Expired account reactivation: $30.00
Whether to choose a free web host plan or a shared hosting plan is something that only experience, need and preferences may dictate. The choices of plans, prices, bundles and features are huge, and not every web host is recommended–free, shared or otherwise. That said, choose wisely on deciding on a shared vs free web hosting plan for your websites.