The thought of getting free website is tempting. The internet is full of companies offering free website hosting even for self-hosted WordPress. You’re probably wondering what’s the catch? Why isn’t everyone else using a free WordPress website? In this article, we will share 36 reasons why having a free website is a bad idea and something that you should AVOID at all costs.
What Do We Mean by Free Website?
Most beginners who want to start their own website want to keep the cost low which is understandable.
So you typically Google the term free website and find many companies offering free website hosting services for free.
The thought of having free web hosting and building your site without paying anything is tempting.
Until you get a reality check. Once you sign up to these so-called “free website services”, you slowly start discovering the limitations and many of them turn out to be not free at all.
If you or your friend is thinking about getting a free website, then stop now.
And read these 36 reasons why free websites are almost always a bad idea.
1. Extremely slow websites
Most free website hosting providers put hundreds of websites sharing the same server. This makes all their websites load at very low speeds. Slow websites create bad user experience and are bad for SEO.
2. Unprofessional web address
Having a website address like mysmallbusiness.Freewebsite.com does not look professional at all. Visitors to your website and potential customers would find it quite difficult to take your website seriously when you don’t even have a proper domain name.
And when you ask these companies for a custom domain, you usually have to pay a premium – something like $19 – $25 for a domain which normally costs $10.
3. Trial Service is Not Really Free
Many of these free website services often turn out to be limited trials. After a while you are asked to pay for it. In most cases, this price is usually way higher than normal WordPress hosting services. If you added a credit card during signup, then they can charge you without giving you any warning.
4. Hidden charges for free website
Like any other business, these free website companies need to make money too. Some of them charge their users for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer, etc. These charges are often outrageously high.
5. They can lock down your data
Many users who start with a free website and then want to move to a paid service, find it impossible to move their website data. These service providers do not offer any tools to easily migrate your site. Users end up paying freelancers to manually export their content which can quickly increase your bill.
6. Irrelevant advertisements on your website
Most of these free website services are supported by advertisements. You create content and build your website, but they get paid for the ads. Often these ads are distracting, intrusive, and look ugly.
The worst part is, sometimes your savvy competitors can then pay these free website hosting companies to advertise on your website. Talk about sabotaging your business.
7. They can shut down your website
The terms and conditions of these services clearly state that they can shutdown your website at anytime without providing you a reason. If they shutdown a website, they usually don’t give your data or provide you a way to save your content.
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8. These companies can disappear at anytime
At any time, the free website company can decide to pack up their business and go. They would simply shutdown their servers, and you will loose your website and all the data. Their terms of service give them full legal protection to do so.
9. You will lose your site address
If they decide to close the service or shutdown your website, then you will loose your web address. Most of the time it is a subdomain associated with the service. You cannot replicate that address or redirect users to your new site elsewhere.
10. They can sell your information
Remember that these services need to make money somehow to remain in the business. A good rule of thumb is if you are not paying for it, then you are the product.
These companies find other ways to make money such as selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to other companies. Their terms and conditions which no one really reads provide them total legal immunity.
11. No site building tools
Unlike a real web hosting service, these companies offer very limited tools and services to their users. Using these tools the website you will create will look even more unprofessional.
12. No WordPress
Many of these free services do not allow you to install WordPress on your free website. WordPress requires a little more resources than a free website service can afford.
13. Limited WordPress
Even if they allow you to host WordPress, their servers are simply not capable of running it. You will come across many errors, and it will ruin your WordPress experience.
14. Malware distribution
Free website services are notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits. In either case, it hurts your website’s reputation and SEO.
15. You may become part of a link farm
The reason why these services keep disappearing and then reappearing is because they try to generate money using unethical methods. Building link farms is one such practice where they sell thousands of pages created by their users to spammers, fake drugs and gambling sites, online scams, etc.
16. Limited bandwidth
Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred from server to user browser. It costs money and most free websites come with a very limited bandwidth caps.
17. Low disk storage
Free website companies host hundreds of websites sharing same server and hard disks. They usually give you very limited storage to store your data. When you reach that limit, you are often asked to pay for more storage.
18. Vulnerable to hacking attempts
Due to poor security, free websites are often more vulnerable to hacking attempts. If your site is hacked, it will be a lot more difficult to get it recovered because these companies give you very limited access to your own files and data.
19. HTML only sites with limited number of pages
Some of these free website companies offer only a limited number of pages on your website. If you want to add more pages, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.
20. Low credibility among your users
When your site is hosted on a free service, your users will feel less inclined to trust it. If users are not comfortable sharing their information, then it will kill the whole purpose of you creating a website.
21. Limited design choices
Design and layouts
Unlike a self-hosted WordPress site where you can choose from thousands of WordPress themes, free websites offer only a handful of poorly designed templates. You cannot use your own designs or use any other design from the web.
22. No help or customer service
These free websites offer no help to users. You will have to setup your site on your own with the help of very limited and poorly presented documentation. You are pretty much on your own if you can’t figure it out.
23. You can’t run advertisements or make money
Even though your free website company runs their own ads on your website, they do not allow you to run ads or make money from your website. You will not be able to add affiliate links or add Adsense to your website.
24. There are no backups
There is no concept of regular backups on these free websites. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data.
25. Difficult to get rid off
The companies offering these services often make money from content created by users like you. They intentionally make it difficult for you to delete your own website. This means your website will remain on their servers, and you will have a hard time removing it.
26. No statistics or decent analytics
With a good hosting company, you can get free statistics about your site’s visitors. You can even install Google Analytics or any other traffic counters. On free websites, they do not allow you to add Google Analytics because they run their own analytics code on your website.
27. You will be targeted with email offers
Remember that these companies need to cover their costs by making money using alternative methods. They will continuously email you with special offers. Not to mention that they could sell your email address to other marketing companies as well.
28. No support for mobile devices
You cannot update your website from your mobile or hand-held devices. Free website companies mostly have their dashboards designed for desktop. This will make it harder to update your site from mobile.
29. No responsive designs
Most free website companies offer website designs that are very old and do not work on mobile phones. Mobile users make a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you will lose all those users.
30. No branded email
You cannot create email accounts with your own domain name. This means you will have to use your gmail or hotmail email account which does not look very professional.
31. No contact forms or email forwards
Every website on the internet needs a good contact form. These free website companies do not have a way for you to add custom contact forms. You also don’t get to forward emails received on their own poorly configured form scripts.
32. Limited file upload features
With paid hosting companies, you can upload unlimited files to your site using an FTP client or media uploader in WordPress. Free website companies only offer you a web based interface where you can upload one file at a time.
34. No way to setup redirects
With WordPress you can set up redirection in many different ways. This is a very useful way to maintain your site’s SEO scores. With free websites, you cannot setup any kind of redirects at all. Even if you move to a paid service later, you will not be able to redirect users from your free website.
35. Investing time on free website is unwise
If you have any serious intention of building something on the web, then you should never start with a free website. As you have read in this article, they are unreliable, unsafe, difficult, and severely limit your growth options.
36. Not even for practice
Free websites are terrible, even if you just want to practice.
Good Alternatives to a Free Website
The best alternative to a free website is of course a paid website. Purple Panda Solutions offers competitive priced websites templates using popular CMS platforms such as WordPress and Joomla.
Give us a call at 416-451-2641 to put your company on the web!