When it comes to choosing a hosting platform the first decision has to be whether you want to pay or choose a free option. It sounds simple enough, but in reality there are several situations where it’s obvious that one of these choices would be much more sensible than the other.
Before coming back to that point let’s compare the two by looking briefly at their major advantages and disadvantages.
Free hosting platforms – advantages
- Space is provided on a server for no charge.
- It’s a largely risk-free option, a good way to experiment with keeping a blog or website going without committing to a contract.
- The templates are provided for you to build a site very easily.
- You can set up and get going very quickly.
- You don’t need any technical knowledge
Free hosting platforms – disadvantages
- The space allocated is likely to be very limited.
- Many ‘free’ sites have paid options which they push you to sign up to, some more obviously an aggressively than others.
- Chances are your free site will have lots of advertising on it, and you may well have no say in what kind of ads appear.
- The content on free sites can disappear at any time.
- There may well be rules about what you can and can’t do on the site, e.g. affiliate links may not be allowed.
- Other than if used as a hobby blog, people often don’t take the content of free sites as seriously as paid sites. Neither do search engines – so you have much less chance of being noticed and ranked.
- Security can be lacking.
- Customer service responses tend to be slower.
Paid hosting platforms – advantages
- Lots of differently priced packages, so you can choose the right one quite easily.
- Starter sites can access shared paid hosting and get support while they grow.
- You can choose your own domain name (presuming it is available), and have domain name email addresses too.
- Security is more of a focus.
- Customer service is a priority.
- Sites can be customized more easily.
- You can expect a faster service.
- Paid hosting usually leads to more up-time and fewer access issues.
- You can choose to have the provider manage everything.
Paid hosting platforms – disadvantages
- You are probably locked into a contract, so must pay even if you abandon the website.
- They can be expensive, especially for dedicated and fully hosted options. (Remember to account for the cost of both the hosting and the domain name.)
Which route you choose depends largely on what you want and need from the site you are creating. It’s possible to start free and then switch and upgrade, but for a serious website, which basically means anything except a hobby blog, it’s best to start with a fee-based host, even if it’s their cheapest option.
For a good selection of hosting packages, go to JavaPipe. They have a great service.