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Why having a "Free website" is always a bad idea?

By Rajeev Pandey, 3rd Eye Advisory®
Why having a "Free website" is always a bad idea?

What Do We Mean by Free Website?

Most beginners who want to start their own website want to keep the cost low which is understandable. So you typically Google the term free website and find many companies offering free website hosting services. The thought of having free web hosting and building your site without paying anything is tempting, until you get a reality check. Once you sign up to these so-called "free website services", you slowly start discovering the limitations and many of them turn out to be not free at all. If you or your friend is thinking about getting a free website, then stop now.

Read these reasons why free websites are almost always a bad idea-

  1. There are no backups
    There is no concept of regular backups on these free websites. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data.
  2. Irrelevant Advertisements on your Website
    Most of these free website services are supported by advertisements. You create content and build your website, but they get paid for the ads. Often these ads are distracting, intrusive, and look ugly. The worst part is, sometimes your savvy competitors can then pay these free website hosting companies to advertise on your website that might sabotage your business.
  3. Limited bandwidth
    Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred from server to user browser. It costs money and most free websites come with a very limited bandwidth caps.
  4. Low disk storage
    Free website companies host hundreds of websites sharing same server and hard disks. They usually give you very limited storage to store your data. When you reach that limit, you are often asked to pay for more storage.
  5. Unprofessional web address
    Having a website address like xyz.freewebsite.com does not look professional at all. Visitors to your website and potential customers would find it quite difficult to take your website seriously when you don't even have a proper domain name.

    And when you ask these companies for a custom domain, you usually have to pay a premium - something like $19 - $25 for a domain which normally costs $10.
  6. Extremely slow websites
    Most free website hosting providers put hundreds of websites sharing the same server. This makes all their websites load at very low speeds. Slow websites create bad user experience and are bad for SEO.
  7. Malware Distribution
    Free website services are notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits. In either case, it hurts your website's reputation and SEO.
  8. Vulnerable to hacking attempts
    Due to poor security, free websites are often more vulnerable to hacking attempts. If your site is hacked, it will be a lot more difficult to get it recovered because these companies give you very limited access to your own files and data.
  9. Low credibility among your users
    When your site is hosted on a free service, your users will feel less inclined to trust it. If users are not comfortable sharing their information, then it will kill the whole purpose of you creating a website.
  10. Limited design choices
    Free websites offer only a handful of poorly designed templates. You cannot use your own designs or use any other design from the web.
  11. No help or customer service
    These free websites offer no help to users. You will have to setup your site on your own with the help of very limited and poorly presented documentation. You are pretty much on your own if you can't figure it out.
  12. Hidden charges for free website
    Like any other business, these free website companies need to make money too. Some of them charge their users for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer, etc. These charges are often outrageously high.
  13. They can lock down your data
    Many users who start with a free website and then want to move to a paid service, find it impossible to move their website data. These service providers do not offer any tools to easily migrate your site. Users end up paying freelancers to manually export their content which can quickly increase your bill.
  14. You will lose your site address
    If they decide to close the service or shutdown your website, then you will loose your web address. Most of the time it is a sub-domain associated with the service. You cannot replicate that address or redirect users to your new site elsewhere.
  15. They can sell your information
    Remember that these services need to make money somehow to remain in the business. A good rule of thumb is if you are not paying for it, then you are the product.
    These companies find other ways to make money such as selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to other companies. Their terms and conditions which no one really reads provide them total legal immunity.
  16. No statistics or decent analytics
    With a good hosting company, you can get free statistics about your site's visitors. You can even install Google Analytics or any other traffic counters. On free websites, they do not allow you to add Google Analytics because they run their own analytics code on your website.
  17. No support for mobile devices
    You cannot update your website from your mobile or hand-held devices. Free website companies mostly have their dashboards designed for desktop. This will make it harder to update your site from mobile.
  18. No responsive designs
    Most free website companies offer website designs that are very old and do not work on mobile phones. Mobile users make a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you will lose all those users.
  19. Limited file upload features
    With paid hosting companies, you can upload unlimited files to your site using an FTP client or media uploader. Free website companies only offer you a web based interface where you can upload one file at a time.
  20. No way to setup redirects
    With free websites, you cannot setup any kind of redirects at all. Even if you move to a paid service later, you will not be able to redirect users from your free website.

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Article by: Rajeev Pandey, 3rd Eye Advisory®
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