Free Web Hosting - Top 7 Things to Expect in 2007
In days of old, free web hosting typically meant dealing with banner ads and using kiddie-corner administrational panels that put a major cramp in your style. In essence, your website's pretty face had to take a hit in order to accomodate the advertisements that kept your free web host in business. On top of this you were denied access to all the yummy web development goodies that commercial web hosting packages offered.
Welcome to 2007 where free web hosting services are really starting to give commercial web hosts a run for their money. Nowadays, the kind of perks being offered up by some of the cutting-edge free web hosts are looking rather impressive.
If you take a good look around, here's what you can expect to find:
No ads ~ Yes that's right, free web hosting is no longer synonymous with the words 'butt ugly', as in the banner ads that hosts of old required you to display on all your web pages. Nowadays, free hosting with NO ADS is becoming more and more the norm. Server-side scripting ~ Free web hosts are now starting to acknowledge that some freebie hunters have advanced webmastering skills. This means doing away with those front-end teletubby page wizards and providing a means to tinker around with complex back-end web development solutions using server-side scripting --most particularly PHP, Perl and SSI. This kind of support was unheard of four or five years ago. MySQL databases ~ Another no-show in free hosting packages of yesteryear was MySQL databases which play a big role in allowing websites to move from static one-dimensional to dynamic interaction. The advance guard of free hosting are starting to include MySQL support among their growing list of bells and whistles. Auto-script installation ~ To slap a little icing on free PHP/MySQL support thing, some hosts actually provide free automated script installations for blogs, forums and content management systems. This means you don't have to be a propellor head (nor have a plug nickel in your pocket) to set up a Wordpress blog. FTP access ~ The file manager wizards offered up by old school free hosts (mentioning no names, of course) are slow, klunky and have limited capabilities. Can we say 'FTP access'? Yes that's right. This is also becoming the norm among freebies. Domain name hosting ~ The quintessential giveaway that you didn't have the green to make the paid web hosting scene was a home page URL that looked something like: myname.cheapo-free-host.com. Nowadays, many companies offering free hosting packages are also allowing you to host your own domain name (and at no extra charge). User support forum ~ What!? Free hosting with a technical support forum? Yes, in fact, I've seen some free hosts in recent years offer better technical support than some web hosting packages that I actually paid for. User support forums are rapidly becoming a standard especially since many free web hosts keep themselves alive by running a "post-for-hosting" business model (ads are displayed on forums which they require users to regularly post to in order to retain their hosting packages).
Some free web hosts actually provide all of the above and with no obligatory forum posting. However, you should never forget that the bottom line is all web hosting (brace yourself) COST$ MONEY. Hence, if a web host is not making money off ads displayed on users' web pages nor on forums that they require users to regularly post to then their cash flow is entirely dependent on 'upselling' the freebies to paid hosting solutions. (Which can be a tough sell if the freebie hunters are dug in like ticks on a hound because they're not too fussy about things like guaranteed uptime or high bandwidth allotment.)
Keeping that in mind, your best bet is to go with a free web host that appears to have some solid means of remaining solvent otherwise they'll tank before they see out their first six months (seen it happen many times). Oh yeah and guess who goes down with the ship?
One final note about free hosting in 2007... Despite the vast improvement in the bells and whistles being offered up by the freebies, a couple of things you'll probably never see are:
High bandwidth and disk space allotments Uptime guarantees (yeah right... that'll be the day... *chuckle*)
For those two amenities, you'll definitely have to lay some cash on the barrel. Fortunately, the winds of change have also blown through the ranks of commercial web hosting. You can now buy a kick-ass web hosting package with tons of bandwidth, tons of disk space, multiple domain hosting, 99.9% guaranteed uptime and more goodies than you can shake a stick at for less than $10 a month.
Related Tags: wordpress, ssi, perl, php, free web hosting, banner ads, ftp access, control panels, mysql databases
Robert Darrell currently hosts his websites (and those of his clients) at Lunarpages, his commercial web host of choice. Please visit http://www.golunarpages.com/ for more information.
Robert is at the helm of Iron Spider Web Design and Resource Center where he provides tutorials covering all aspects of web design including Best Free Web Hosting.Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles
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