When an individual decides to have a website, one of the crucial things they need to think about is the web hosting plan. There is no dearth of hosting plans in India, the prominent ones being Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting and Dedicated Servers. However, for beginners, two hosting platforms have been the conventional choice – Shared Hosting and ‘Free Web Hosting’. There are hundreds of companies out there that will offer you free hosting services. On the other hand, you have Shared Hosting.
Shared Website Hosting is the most popular form of hosting in the world, and this is because it is the most affordable hosting solution. But it is not free. At first glance, free hosting seems to be the obvious choice. Why pay for a service that’s being offered for free? Well, free hosting isn’t really free, to begin with, and more importantly, has a few major problems.
This article looks at what those problems are and why you’re better off going for a Shared Hosting plan from a reputed and reliable web hosting company.
Free Hosting vs Paid Hosting: Problems with Free Hosting
Free hosting isn’t really free
Free hosting is, to put it gently, a marketing ploy. Companies offer free hosting with only one aim — to sign you up on their platform. Once you become a customer and start creating a website, you will inevitably find that it’s nearly impossible to create and maintain a website through a free hosting plan.
What companies do is quite simple. They remove all the features that a hosting plan should come with. So, when you create a website, you’ll have a rude shock waiting for you. Once you realise you need a few tools and features, they start charging for that. For example, basic tools and resources like bandwidth, disk space, SSL, control panel, etc. will be charged separately. The idea is that because you’ve put in so much time and effort for your website, you’ll pay up. What’s more, those features or tools aren’t sold cheap.
Shared Hosting is a complete hosting solution. When you choose a Shared Hosting plan from a reliable web hosting company, you get everything you need to run your website – pre-installed control panel, website builder tools, script auto-installers, integrated CDN and caching, free SSL, and more importantly, dedicated customer support at all times of the day. Thus, with a Shared Hosting plan, you get the most value for your money, without the hassle of buying everything at exorbitant costs.
Web hosting companies that offer free hosting services are spending money on you. They are creating space on their servers for your website. If you somehow manage to get your website running for a while on free hosting services, they will start putting ads on your website.
These are obviously not ads that make you money. The ad revenue goes to the hosting company. The twisted reasoning is that you’ve got free hosting, so they get the ad revenue. This isn’t temporary, by the way!
As long as you’re on free hosting, your website will be subjected to these ads. This can become a problem as your website starts to grow. Even though you have an audience to advertise to, you don’t get any money.
Obviously, this simply does not happen with a Shared Hosting plan. In a paid hosting setup, you get to decide what goes on your website. The web hosting company cannot run advertisements on your website and earn revenue from it. This ensures a clutter-free website and a seamless user experience on your website.
Your website will crash a lot
As you might have already guessed, free hosting servers don’t get the best maintenance in a hosting company. It’s being offered for free. So, they go easy on the maintenance, meaning your website will be down a lot.
With Shared Hosting plans, companies are charging money for the services rendered. When you buy the hosting plan, the web hosting company will give you a service guarantee, which will include an uptime guarantee as well. This ensures that you can hold the web hosting company accountable for the uptime scores and demand your money back in case of sub-standard services.
The importance of uptime for a website cannot be overstated. If your website crashes a lot, it won’t be shown on search engine results, can get blacklisted, and most important of all, your customers cannot access or shop on your website. Long story short, you’re going to lose money.
Little to no customer support
If you’re new to the world of website hosting and maintenance, you’re going to need a bit of help from time to time. With free website hosting, you can pretty much forget about customer support of any sort. Sure, companies have some sort of rules and support timelines for free websites too, but as you might expect, it won’t help you a whole lot.
With Shared Hosting, companies have very clear policies about customer support. There are clear deadlines before which issues have to be resolved, and web hosting companies strive to do that. Thus, when it comes to the free hosting vs paid web hosting battles, Shared Hosting wins by a huge margin in the customer support domain. Many web hosting companies even offer round-the-clock 24×7 expert customer support to help you resolve your queries quickly and efficiently.
Bandwidth is the rate at which data is transferred from your server to the user’s browser, and here’s what you need to know – more is better. Greater the bandwidth, higher the speed of your website. And when it comes to websites, speed is everything. Studies show that people prefer websites that load quickly.
With free hosting, you can expect very little bandwidth. Sometimes this happens because hosting companies stuff servers full of websites and there’s little to go around. With some companies, the limiting of bandwidth is purposeful. Companies create bandwidth caps in hopes of signing you on for a paid plan with higher bandwidth.
With Shared Hosting, bandwidth is communicated clearly. So, you know exactly what you’re getting. This also means that you can add images, videos, animations, a heavy theme, and things like these with more confidence, without worrying about bandwidth problems. Additionally, many Shared Hosting providers offer unmetered bandwidth with their plans, which solves the issues of limited bandwidth.
It’s quite easy to see why free hosting is appealing — It’s free! Price is one of the most important considerations in any business, and it’s the same with websites too. So, free website hosting seems like a good place to cut costs.
However, as discussed above, there’s no such thing as free hosting in the real world. Companies will make their money in one way or another. It may be through ads on your website or by making your hosting experience so frustrating that you’ll end up buying a paid plan. And once you do start paying, costs start adding up.
Shared Hosting, on the other hand, is a paid plan. However, the prices are really low, and you get great performance, reliability, and security. What’s more, if you get your Shared Hosting plan from one of the industry leaders, you’ll also get amazing support whenever you need it. In the long run, these are things that really matter.
Shared Hosting plans from HostGator come with 24×7 dedicated support and a host of benefits. You can avail free SSL certificates, pre-installed cPanel, pre-integrated NGINX caching, unmetered bandwidth and one-click auto-installer. And, all this at affordable prices. So, if you’re planning on starting a website, you should be giving Shared Hosting a serious thought.
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