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Can I use Free Web Hosting for my Small Business?

Free web hosting providers allow you to build a website and host it on the Internet without paying a monthly or annual fee. Instead, your website will likely contain ads chosen by the web host to help support the costs of hosting it. However, free web hosting still fits certain online business models. Though free-hosted websites are usually limited in functionality, they still provide a web presence, which is obviously good for your Internet-based business.

Often with free web hosting you’ll be “outfitted” with a sub-domain name rather than your own domain name. The format will be something like www.yourbusinessname.host.com. Some free web hosting sites do, however, allow upgrades to paid hosting services, along with the registration of domain names that are unique to your business. This will allow you to try out the web hosting services for a period of time to see what features you use most before committing to a paid hosting package.

Free web hosting services often provide much more than you might expect. For example, you can get some useful features such as FTP file transfer, some scheduled processes, a web-based control panel, email accounts, scripting languages such as ASP and PHP, and even relational databases.

Before signing on with a free web hosting company, check out their track record through Google searches and web hosting forum discussions. Also ask about how much storage you get and whether you will have access to web-based control panels and directories for your website that are password protected.

Even though the web hosting is “free” to you, it has to be paid for somehow. There are several ways that free web hosting companies do this.

The host may be “stingy” with storage space, bandwidth allowances or other features, which may or may not be a problem for your website. Often you’ll have to display banner ads, pop-ups, or text links for the web host company on your website.

Many free web hosting providers allow you to post in a forum. Sometimes users have to reach a certain number of posts before being granted a free hosting account or users may have to be active forum contributors to have a free-hosted website. Sometimes these plans work on a “points” system, where you’ll have to earn a certain number of points to host and maintain a website for free.

There are some disadvantages to free web hosting. Disadvantages may include: lack of hot linking of files, no uptime guarantee, no MP3, MPEG, or other specified format content, small bandwidth allocation, and small amounts of disk space. If any of these are deal breakers for you, then you should probably look at paid web hosting. Rates for paid hosting for small sites using shared servers can be very reasonable.

www.doteasy.com is an excellent free web hosting company! * With domain name purchase


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