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Free Versus Paid Web Hosting
 
In the journey of finding an appropriate host for your site, you may come across asking yourself: Why pay for web hosting when it is available for free? Paying for a hosting plan can be quite beneficial to most webmasters, though for some, a free host may also be capable of entirely supporting the needs of your site. This article intends to outline both free and paid hosting, to give you a better understanding of which your site should be committed to.

If you have been developing web pages for over one year, then chances are you are fit to be paying for web hosting. As an experienced coder and designer, you are familiar with some of the many frustrations involved with having a web site hosted on a free server. Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "free" hosting is unwanted advertisements on all of your pages. Unfortunately free hosts rely solely on these advertisements to earn money, and as such, there are very few of them that have no forced advertising. This simply means that visitors to your site are likely to see a 468x60 pixel banner advertisement on the top of each of your pages, or an appearing pop-up banner after each click-through to a subsequent page on your site. Such features add unprofessionalism to pages that are well-designed.

Downtime is another factor experienced with many free web hosts. Because you are not paying for the service you are using, gives the host the ability to be more flexible when it comes to dependability. A free host is rarely bothered if some of its users are dissatisfied with the service, for they are of little or no benefit to them. In relation to downtime being greater than that of a paid web host, customer support is also lacking. The majority of free hosts do not have the proper funds to hire a customer support team. Therefore, if you ever experience any problems, you are to heavily rely on the site's Frequently Asked Questions, for the chance of receiving any response is almost non-existent if you were to notify them via e-mail of problems you are experiencing.

If you have built or plan to build a web site containing large amounts of data, then you will find that a free web host can be quite limiting. Most free hosts only provide you with 5 to 10 MB of space, which means you will never be able to expand your site and go beyond your given amount of disk space -- without converting to a paid host. Rather, it would be more efficient to build traffic to your own .com address, and the more disk space you occupy, the more money you pay.

Many free hosts do not allow you to earn money from your pages. This means you are not permitted to sell advertising space to the various advertising agencies. This is perfectly fine if you have a homepage about yourself or your friends, but if you run a business site, you are likely losing out on potential advertising revenues. Therefore, if you plan on selling advertising space on your web site, it is strongly suggested that you pay for web hosting.

If you plan on building an online store, you are going to want a secure server (https://), whereby secure online credit card processing can be made possible. Free hosts do not support a secure web server, and as such, customers are going to have doubts when it comes to making an online payment. Similarly, most free web hosts do not support extensions other than .html. Therefore, if you plan on building a large web site with the same navigation on each page, you are going to want a server that is SSI enabled, which means documents can end in .shtml. In brief, SSI gives you the ability to alter the navigation style on one page, having that same alteration found on all corresponding pages -- without having to go through the navigation code of each and every page individually. As you can see SSI can save you a great deal of time and frustration. SSI is one of the many alternate functions a paid web host can support, whereby your average free host could not.

Probably the most obvious reason one would want to pay for web hosting is because you are entitled to make use of your own .com, .net, or .org domain name -- that is, providing you have gone through the registration process first. By establishing your site on a free web server, means that the URL to your site would be long and difficult to remember. In the case of Geocities, one of the more common free web hosts, a typical URL would resemble "http://www.geocities.com/Area51/ Shadowlands/ 2719/ Food/ pizza.htm.". Noticeably, such an address is long, thus difficult to remember, and by far unprofessional.

As you are now familiar with, a paid web host, in most cases, outweighs the benefits of a free host. In summary, free web hosting is ideal for homepages, and for individuals who are just beginning to learn the Hypertext Mark-up Language. For business, whether being small or large, and other commercial uses, paid web hosting is the outmost complete solution. Just remember the old saying: "You get what you pay for.".

"Free Versus Paid Web Hosting" by Michael McCarthy of WebHostingReviews.com

 
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