The popularity of free web hosting has exploded in recent years.
And it’s easy to see why – with all the different expenses required to run a successful website, it’s tempting to try and cut costs wherever possible to stay within your budget.
And what’s more budget-friendly than free web hosting, right?
Well, not exactly…
Free web hosts aren’t always what they market themselves to be. Tight restrictions they place on bandwidth, storage capacity, server speed, and uptimes can make your new site all but unusable.
“In general, we don’t recommend free hosting providers. It’s much a better to get a good shared host at low cost, such as Bluehost.com (which is also ranked well in “best web hosting” page).
But don’t worry, if you really have no budget – we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. In this review, we compare 7 free hosting options to help you find the best fit for your site.
Let’s dive in:
The Best “Almost-Free” Hosting ($0.99/mo)
After nearly 16 years in business and a client base of more than 29,000,000 people spread across 178 countries, Hostinger has become one of the free web hosting industry’s most dominant players.
Ok, so they aren’t technically “free”…
… But at only $0.99/month for their limited shared hosting plan they’re still one of the most budget-friendly web hosts on the market.
With average load times of only 355ms (the second-best we’ve ever recorded), they’re also one of the fastest.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Even their most basic plan comes armed to the teeth with a whole bag of goodies including:
- 1 MySQL database
- 1 FTP user
- Access to their website builder
- One-click install of WordPress or other CMS
- 24/7 customer support (seriously, it’s one of the best)
- 100GB of Bandwidth and 10GB of Disk Space
- One free email account
And, if the needs of your site outgrow the limits of their basic hosting plan, you can always upgrade to their premium shared hosting plan.
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited email accounts
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Weekly memory backups
- Free domain
One of the only major annoyances we had while reviewing Hostinger is that their user interface doesn’t give you access to a classic cPanel…
Instead, you’ll get a slightly downgraded made-in-house interface called the hPanel.
It’s not our favorite user interface, but – considering the exceptional speeds, customer support, and features – we’re hard-pressed not to hold it against them.
Hostinger’s “shared plan” average uptime and load time in 2019:
With some of the fastest speeds we’ve ever seen and uptimes on par with those of HostGator’s Cloud, Hostinger is the best “almost free” host that we’ve ever reviewed.
$0/mo – But 2 Hours Offline Every Month
“Zero cost web hosting with PHP, MySQL, cPanel, and no ads!”.
That’s the marketing slogan of 000webhost.com, Hostinger’s partner company and one of the top-rated free web hosts in the world.
Now, if it sounds just a little too good to be true – IT IS!
Yes, 000WebHost offers impressive speeds (especially for a shared free host), and their no-ads policy makes for a much cleaner and friendlier user experience.
Unfortunately, these two factors alone simply aren’t enough to compensate for the myriad of other limitations.
*Note: It’s worth mentioning that 000WebHost experienced a massive security breach back in 2015 where the private information of more than 13,000,000 customers was leaked.
Of the many problems that we experienced while reviewing 000WebHost, none was more prevalent or frustrating than their utterly unusable uptimes.
With an average uptime of only 99.70%, you can expect to experience at least an hour of downtime every other week on your site. Think of all the traffic and sales you might lose every single month.
To make matters worse, you’re also limited to a mere 10GB of bandwidth, 1GB of disk space. To top it off, there is no email or live chat customer support to assist you in the (all but certain) event you encounter a problem with their service.
Here’s 000WebHost free plan average uptime and load time in 2019:
Despite having admittedly impressive speeds, with such horrible uptimes and heavy limitations, we cannot recommend 000WebHost to anyone unless it’s an absolute necessity.
Most Unlimited Features
With only over 300,000 customers, InfinityFree is a relatively small player in the web hosting game.
Despite their small client base, they’ve managed to carve out a reputation for themselves as the most feature-rich free web host on the market.
Even though you will undoubtedly experience some problems with their service, this reputation is well earned.
InfinityFree comes with the following:
- Free SSL certificate with all plans (a very nice bonus)
- No front-end ads
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- 10 email accounts
- 1 FTP account
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage space
- 400 MySQL databases.
It’s safe to say that InfinityFree gives you a big bang for your unpaid buck.
But when you skim through their terms of service and acceptable use policies, things start to get a little more “interesting.”
What InfinityFree doesn’t advertise on their website is that their offers of “unlimited” bandwidth and storage space come with some seriously limited restrictions.
In their terms of service, they place significant and ambiguous restrictions on the types of content and files you’re allowed to upload. Also, the amount of the so-called “unlimited” bandwidth on offer is also questionable.
And the best part?
The penalty for non-compliance with the limitations on their “unlimited” offer is the suspension or elimination of your website and data – Ouch!
Here’s InfinityFree’s free plan average uptime and load time in 2019:
Generally, their uptime is pretty good, but this January, for example, we experienced over 40 hours of downtime.
Great For Personal and Small Business Websites
Despite being very well known for its search engine and other online products such as Sheets, Docs, and Gmail, they also offer a free website builder since 2008. The website builder got a complete rebuild in 2016 and currently hosts over 70,000 live websites.
Just like most other Google products, it is entirely free to use.
You also get a free subdomain with an SSL certificate, and Google Sites features no ads on your website.
It’s not all good though; the styling options are very limited. There is no way to add custom CSS or to even add fonts from their own Goole Fonts catalog.
The SEO options are also limited, and you cannot host Google Adsense advertisements.
Although we are still running our own tests to gather more concrete data on the real uptimes and load times of GoogleSites hosting, a superficial glance at the other reviews around the web suggests that it’s reliable and fast.
Free web hosting that sounds too good to be true because it is.
With over 2.5+ million customers and 17 years in the web hosting business, AwardSpace has carved out a name for itself as one of the top free hosting providers available.
Some of their best features include:
- 100% ad-free hosting to the MySQL database
- 24/7 customer service (an admittedly enticing bonus)
- One-click CMS (WordPress/Joomla) installation
- 99% uptime guarantee
Everything looks amazing, right?
Unfortunately, a closer look will reveal questionable features.
Although AwardSpace does a few things well, there are several glaring issues with their free hosting, which prevent them from serving as a viable option for any serious webmasters.
For starters, free users are limited to only 1 GB of disk space and 5GB of bandwidth. It means that your new site will be little more than a glorified “demo” of AwardSpace’s premium hosting packages.
There are also a few disconcerting lines of legal jargon in their TOS that seem to permit them to sell off your data to third-party vendors.
None of it really matters since the biggest problem with AwardSpace is the abysmally big downtime which on average is more than an hour a week.
Here’s AwardSpace free plan average uptime and load time in 2019:
Slow speed and no sub-domain
With a decade in the web hosting business and 15,000 customers, a European company, FreeHosting.com has grown exponentially. Nonetheless, as we’ve seen time and time again – popularity and performance aren’t always correlated.
Equipped with unmetered bandwidth (granted your website complies with their rather stringent acceptable use policy), you also get the following
- A multilingual cPanel
- 10 GB of disk space, one email account
- A MySQL database
FreeHosting.com seems like one of the better free hosts available.
As is self-evident with free web hosts, the endless stream of technical issues posed by FreeHosting’s service makes it all but unusable.
With abysmally slow load times that border on the 2-second mark – it’s one of the worst uptimes we’ve ever seen and countless customer complaints of deleted websites and non-responsive customer service, FreeHosting.com is yet another web host that makes big promises but ultimately fails to uphold any of them.
Here’s FreeHosting free plan average uptime and load time in 2019:
With some of the worst uptimes and slowest speeds we’ve ever recorded, we recommend that you avoid FreeHosting.com at all costs.
Low disk space and bad speed & uptime.
FreeHostia sets itself apart from the competition with its unique plan names (who knew you could buy “Chocolate” web hosting?). In addition, they also have load-balanced server clusters – which allows for increased load times across the company’s assets.
However, these unique “features” don’t do very much to improve the quality of their hosting.
Their customer service has earned many glowing recommendations in recent years, they offer 3 free email accounts and up to 5 hosted domains (a rarity in the free web hosting space). Yet, these enticing offers aren’t nearly enough to offset the hefty restrictions and performance issues with which you’ll be faced.
The biggest problem with Freehostia’s free hosting is the restrictions they place on your storage and bandwidth.
With a paltry 250MB of storage and 6GB of bandwidth, even the most minimalist of webmasters will struggle to build a site that contains more than a few images and a line or two of plain text.
However, the real nails in the coffin are the unreliable uptimes and incredibly slow speeds.
Freehostia might work for hosting a simple test site or low traffic blog… Nevermind – even that might be pushing it.
Here’s FreeHostia free plan average uptime and load time in 2019:
Although the uptimes and load times aren’t the worst we’ve seen (they’re still pretty bad), there’s no reason to use a company like FreeHostia when you have so many other decent service providers available.
Why We Recommend Avoiding Free Hosting Services
Although the providers we’ve shared are among the best (which sadly isn’t saying much), even the most reputable ones struggle to live up to their promises. Instead, they present their “customers” with slow, and often unusable websites with no chance of succeeding in today’s competitive online space.
Also, they can delete your website (or online business) within seconds, leaving you no control…
So, does this mean that hope is lost for the low-budget webmaster-to-be?
Best Alternatives for Free Web Hosting
Free hosts might talk a big game, but at the end of the day will leave you with a shell of a site. All their services are unable to meet even the most basic standards required to run a successful business website.
Even with the tight restrictions on bandwidth, storage, and basic features like email accounts and website installations.
However, you can secure fast and reliable hosting with truly unlimited bandwidth and storage for pennies on the dollar. This is thanks to advances in technology and competition in the marketplace.
In fact, with the plethora of new-customer discounts and other offers, you can easily buy 2-3 years of web hosting for less than $100.
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