Starting your own business can be an uphill, expensive struggle. There’s different things you need that command both your time and money, and determining where to spend and when to save, can be confusing.
One area that causes a lot of confusion is your website hosting. With free cloud-based website design platforms, such as Wix and Weebly, as well as free blogging sites, like WordPress and Blogger, going down the free route can seem like the perfect solution. After all, it’s free, right? Plus, paid hosting can eat into your already tight budget and seems like an unnecessary expense, when you’re trying to watch the pennies.
So what exactly ARE the real differences between free and paid hosting?
The biggest difference you’ll have between paid and free hosting is the amount of control you have. When it comes to alterations, even something as simple as changing your layout or colour scheme, can be outside of your control.
Another area of control you can’t influence, is advertising. Free hosting providers need to make their money somehow – and advertising is how they do it. They can place adverts on any topic, quality and theme on your site… ANYWHERE on your site.
If you want to look professional, you’re better opting for a paid hosting provider. Why? Because you get a domain URL that is just yours – with NO mention of the hosting providers name. Free hosting providers will provide you with a URL that looks like [your name.their name.co.uk] or similar – and this won’t help your search engine optimisation either!
Free hosting providers don’t always have a great level of customer service. But this also works the other way too – YOU can’t always provide a good level of customer service, as you’re limited to the tools a free provider can supply to you. Even simple things like your 404 error page (what someone sees if they type in the wrong address), cannot be customised, if you use a free hosting provider.
Reliability, speed and storage
Free hosting providers often limit your bandwidth, meaning your site can go really slow – or even worse, go down altogether – if you have a lot of visitors or use lots of images and videos on your site. This also impacts on the upload and download times too – making them really slow too.
Security and spam
Again, this is severely limited if you use a free option. They WILL have something in place, but you will have no control over how well your site is protected from spam and from hackers.
Free is free… right?
There are some really great free website platforms out there, including the likes of Wix and Weebly. They give you the opportunity to get your website online fast, through a range of easy to use templates and simple drag and drop editing. There’s also the ever popular WordPress, originally just a blogging platform, now you can easily create entire websites with it, complete with blog pages.
But there are often features you can only access through paid-for, premium options. Start looking at these premium prices – and you’ll often find it works out the same (if not cheaper) to buy your own URL and opt for a low-priced hosting provider, such as UK2Net or Hostgator to host your site for you.
It’s also important to note; if you want to swap your site later down the line, it can be really difficult, especially as you DON’T own the website template. And if you have a WIX site… you CANNOT export it to a new hosting provider at all. You’ll then have to start again from scratch – making it a potentially expensive and timely drain on your finances and time!
Does the thought of choosing the right hosting provider leave you confused and despondent? If you’d rather pass it over to someone to deal with for you, why not get in touch and see how I can help?
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