F’ree Hosting?

I’ve seen several ads for “Free Hosting.”  What does this really mean?  There has to be someone who is paying for the watts and discs and boxes.  I’m sure that there’s a form of quid pro quo to justify giving away this service.

Maybe it’s a loss-leader, a free (but limited) service.  Or perhaps it’s like Live Messenger and other programs which feature mandatory advertising built in to cover the costs.  Or perhaps they want to have rights to a portion of your content.  one likelihood is that it’s free up to a certain point, and then you get billed for any overage. The key is to read the fine print in the terms of use before you upload even one byte.

Nevertheless, this may be a good solution for someone who doesn’t want to (or can’t) pay for hosting just yet. If you’re only fooling around trying to get an idea of what’s what, or testing an online product, this may be a reasonable approach.

I should point out that I signed up for GeoCities(R.I.P.) when it was still functioning.  It was a simple, free service, ad-supported service eventually owned (and shut down) by Yahoo.  I haven’t needed to sign up for anotherone of these services.  That’s not to say I won’t.  I’ll do it for one of two reasons: Some friend asks me to investigate a few, or I ask myself to do it, so I can gain a bit of credibility for this post 🙂

One caution:  DON’T play “You Bet Your Business.”  Don’t  use this type of service to run a full-fledged, legitimate business site. Your free hosting provider has no incentive to resolve any problem at 2:00 am, or any other time, either.  They also may have serious limitations that can incur more hidden costs than a business-oriented site.

So, a trial site with static pages? Okay.  A personal Webpage that links elsewhere? Sure, within limits.  Testing a program stack? Maybe.  Anything you want to depend on?  Not a good bet.