We love free web hosting and, like many small to medium businesses, we can often deal with the terms that come with “free” things.

What makes free web hosting free?

And, what are the best options out there?

Whether you’re using website builders like Wix, Weebly or WordPress, or setting up something custom, you’re bound to find the right hosting partner to suit your needs from our detailed guide.

First, we’re going to look a how these hosting companies work and what makes them free, and then we’re going to take you through our top 9 picks.

How do hosting companies make their money if they offer free web hosting?

Owning your own server for a small business or for fun is quite expensive and technically complicated to maintain. Which is why most people rely on website hosting companies.

How fast your website loads, how much it can store, and how much traffic it can handle is all dependent on what kind of hosting package you have.

Free web hosting is a great solution for those who are just starting out. And, if you use a service like Wix or WordPress, you can literally have a website up and running in just a few minutes.

We know that nothing is truly free, you’ll need to make some kind of trade off. From ad-supported options to limited features, here’s what comes with that free hosting package.

Ad supported websites

Ever seen a small website with a couple of ads, or with an address that’s part of another domain like mysite.weebly.com?  

Those websites are being hosted for free, in exchange for ad space on their site. And, this is how the hosting provider makes an income and how they pay for server maintenance.

The benefit of using an ad-supported hosting provider is that they usually make is super easy to use and sometimes provide a website builder, free templates and other features along with the package.

The downside is that you’re most likely to not have any control over what ads are displayed on your website. This lack of control might not suit some people, but if you’re alright with this, then go for it!

Limited Features

If you’re planning on growing your website, it’s important to think about getting the right hosting solution that grows with your business.

In order to provide free hosting, some providers will limit the features of the sites hosted there. Free website hosting providers often limit the following:

  • Disk space
  • Custom domain
  • Bandwidth
  • Number of websites or email addresses
  • Access to support
  • Certain plugins and widgets

Most small websites or blogs don’t really need much when it comes to fancy website features or plugins so a limited amount of space or support features wouldn’t turn them away from using free website hosting services.

It’s only when your business grows, or your website begins to receive more traffic that you might feel the limitations that come with this hosting solution. So, before you pick a provider, think about the future of your small business and what your growth plans are so that you’re covered for what you need now, and where you plan to be.

Keep these benefits and limitations in mind, because we’re going to list our top free and almost free website hosting sites from 1 to 9!

9 Free and Almost Free Web Hosting Sites

We reviewed the most popular and best-loved web hosting providers out there, and picked our top 9. We rated these services from 1 – 10 according to the following criteria:

  • Costs vs features.
  • Uptime, security and speed.
  • Trusted and verified customer reviews on website such as capterra.com and g2.com.
  • Overall value for money.
  • Quality of customer support.

1. BlueHost

Bluehost is one of the largest website hosting providers in the world with over 2 million domains.

Although they’re not 100% free, their starting plan includes a few free options that would otherwise end up costing small businesses quite bit.

We’re really impressed with their list of features, and with a starting price of only $2.95 p/m for shared hosting, we’ll feature them as an “almost free” hosting provider.

Best for: WordPress and.e-commerce sites.

Price: Almost free shared hosting: $2.95 p/month.

Rating: 8/10

Pros:

  • Free Domain name the 1st year.
  • 50GB SSD storage on their lowest plan.
  • Unmetered bandwidth.
  • Free SSL Certificate.
  • 24/7 email support.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Easy WordPress installation.

Cons:

  • Their 24/7 support is less than stellar, prepare to wait for a response.
  • There’s only 1 US-based contact number for customer support.

Website: www.bluehost.com

2. Hostinger

Hostinger is used by over 29 million users in 178 countries. According to their website, they’re signing up 15,000 new users on average every day! For beginners, their free website hosting is a great starting point and we’re impressed by their online community and level of support.

Their free web hosting plan is quite limited, but for a beginner, it might just be enough.

However, we do recommend upgrading to their Single Shared Hosting package at only $0.99 to really make the most of Hostinger’s benefits.

Best for: Beginners with hobby websites or personal portfolios. The paid solutions are much better suited for small e-commerce businesses.

Price: Always Free plan. Almost free option: shared hosting from $0.99 p/month.

Rating: 8/10

Pros (free web hosting plan):

  • 300MB disk space.
  • 3 GB bandwidth.
  • 2 websites.
  • 99% uptime guaranteed.

Cons:

  • Free domain registration not included.
  • No spam or security protection.
  • No sub-domains.
  • Email support only.

Website: www.hostinger.com

Ready to start marketing your website? Check out our guide to the best email marketing software.

3. Cloudways

Video source: Cloudways

Cloudways offers a free trial on their managed cloud hosting platform which comes with a range of amazing features including free site migration and one-click installation of unlimited applications.

Their pricing is incredibly flexible and allows for a “pay-as-you-go” option without any locked-in contracts.

Best for: Growing, innovative businesses that require flexibility in their hosting provider.

Price: Starting from $10 p/month.

Rating: 7/10

Pros:

  • Pay-as-you-go for added flexibility.
  • 24/7 online support.
  • Free SSL Certificates.
  • Free site migration.
  • Host unlimited apps.
  • 1TB bandwidth on the lowest plan.
  • Auto-healing.

Cons:.

  • The lowest plan starts at $10 p/month.
  • The free trial is only for 3 days.
  • Customer support might lack sufficient technical knowledge.

Website: www.cloudways.com

4. HostGator

HostGator has been around since 2002 and is one of the oldest web hosting providers around. Their generous hosting packages are extremely popular among companies of all sizes. Their plans start at $2.75 p/month during promotions and include a free domain registration on shared annual plans.

Best for: Medium – large businesses who require premium features and support.

Price: Almost free hosting: $2.75 p/month shared web hosting which includes many freebies listed below.

Rating: 8/10

Pros:

  • Unmetered bandwidth.
  • Free SSL certificate.
  • One-click WordPress installs.
  • Free domain registration for 1 year.
  • Free website transfer.
  • 100GB storage on their lowest shared plan.
  • 99% uptime guaranteed.
  • Unlimited email accounts.
  • cPanel Control Panel.

Cons:

  • Reviewers reported lower page speeds on HostGator.
  • Extras such as Gmail and backups can become pricey when added to the lowest plans.
  • Renewal rates become quite high after your first 3 years.

Website: www.hostgator.com

5. GreenGeeks

Video via Darrel Wilson

Eco-conscious businesses will be pleased to know that there is an affordable green hosting solution available through GreenGeeks Web Hosting. 

GreenGeeks offsets 3-times more than their usual annual carbon footprint via established partners. Their WordPress hosting plans start from just $2.95 p/month and upgrades are in a reasonable price bracket.

Best for: Small to medium companies who are looking for an environmentally-friendly option.

Price: Almost free, Lite plan: $2.95 p/month.

Rating: 8/10

Pros:

  • Free website migration.
  • Free website builder.
  • Eco-friendly.
  • Fast and secure.
  • Free domain for the first year.
  • cPanel Control Panel.
  • One-click app installation.
  • Unlimited web space.
  • Unlimited data transfer.

Cons:

  • Their pricing model is similar to HostGater with a steep renewal fee after the initial term.
  • If you opt for a money-back guarantee, a domain name registration fee is deducted.

Website: www.greengeeks.com

6. WP Engine

Video source: WP Engine

Just in case you are looking for a website hosting provider for a business that requires more powerful and secure WordPress website hosting, we’ve included WPEngine on this list.

WPEngine offers premium managed WordPress hosting services and one of the most popular hosting provider among WordPress site owners.

“WP Engine is highly suitable in contexts where the WCM offerings need to be a highly-functioning citizen in a community of technologies.”

~ Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Systems 2018

Best for: Enterprise-level WordPress websites.

Price: Startup plans starts at $25 p/month on an annual subscription.

Rating: 9/10

Pros:

  • Fast, scalable website hosting.
  • Free SSL Certificate.
  • Enterprise-level security.
  • Free backups.
  • Access to over 35 StudioPress Themes on the lowest plan.
  • 24/7 chat support.

Cons:

  • No email hosting.
  • The lowest tier is still very pricey and out of reach for many small businesses.

Website: wpengine.com

7. Liquid Web

Trusted by some of the largest global brands, Liquid Web is an excellent fully managed web hosting provider. Liquid Web has been in business for over 22 years and has over 30,000 customers in 130 countries. Hosting packages include cloud, dedicated, VPS, managed WordPress and high-end options.

Best for: Businesses who need high performance hosting, premium features and dedicated support.

Price: VPS hosting starting from $15 p/month on a 2 year plan, $59 p/month on a monthly plan.

Rating: 9/10

Pros:

  • Exceptional performance.
  • Fully managed hosting and email.
  • Managed WooCommerce for high-performing online stores.
  • HIPAA Complaint for healthcare organisations.
  • Premium specs.
  • Dedicated customer support services.

Cons:

  • No affordable option for smaller businesses or individuals.
  • No shared hosting.

Website: www.liquidweb.com

8. InfinityFree

100% free web hosting sites like InfinityFree are becoming quite rare these days. This completely free option is not only fast and reliable, but comes with a few neat features too.

What we love about InfinityFree web hosting is that they will never force ads onto your free site. They’re able to do this because they earn enough using the ads on the main site and control panel to cover the costs of free hosting.

Best for: Personal websites and blogs.

Price: Free

Rating: 6/10

Pros:

  • 99.99% uptime.
  • Completely free with no time limits.
  • Easy WordPress installation with Softaculous.
  • Free subdomain.
  • No ads.
  • Unlimited disk space.
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Access to over 400 apps.

Cons:

  • Limited to 50,000 hits per day.
  • Free SSL is actual a self-signed certificate, so users might see the dreaded “Your connection is not private” message in their browser when visiting your site.

Website: infinityfree.net

9. x10Hosting

X10hosting offers cPanel hosting as well as a basic website builder in its free web hosting offering. In a category flooded with outdated free hosting websites and dodgy fine print, x10hosting comes out as one of the better hosting providers around.

Best for: Personal websites, small businesses.

Price: Free

Rating: 5/10

Pros:

  • cPanel Control Panel.
  • FTP.
  • MySQL.
  • Free website builder.
  • Unmetered bandwidth and disk space.

Cons:

  • Little to no customer support on email.
  • Users rely on support forums and there’s no guarantee that your issue will be resolved.

Website: x10hosting.com

Before picking the first web host you find, make sure you carefully look at what they can offer, and whether that will suit your needs not only now but also in the future. 

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Is free web hosting really worth it?

Free web hosting has its benefits and drawbacks. One of the main things to keep in mind when looking for reliable free hosting is that you have be very aware of the fine print. We also recommend that you spend some time testing out the service and decide what features you can and cannot do without.

It’s very rare to find a free web hosting solution that competes fairly with paid solutions, but there are a few decent options like the ones in our guide.

The bottom line: you get what you pay for.

So, if you’re looking to pay $0 on website hosting, you’ll probably end up paying in some other way either by limited features, lack of security, ads, or poor customer support channels.

Is it really worth it? Well, that’s up to you.

Our picks:

GreenGeeks: for their really affordable and environmentally-conscious hosting services.

Hostinger: for their Almost Free hosting plan at just $0.99 which is a great option for small businesses or individuals and includes email hosting.

References:

PCMag Web Hosting Reviews: https://www.pcmag.com/categories/web-hosting

Capterra | Find and Compare Software‎: www.capterra.com

G2: Business Software and Services Reviews: https://www.g2.com/

Bitcatcha Free Website Hosting Reviews: https://www.bitcatcha.com/research/free-web-hosting/

Hosting Advice: https://hostadvice.com/

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