A website is essential to the success of any small business these days, even if your company has nothing to do with technology. Your website is your calling card, a place where most people will get their first impression of your business. If you want your business to stand out, you need a solid e-commerce tool (especially if you are selling things online), a useful and well-designed interface, and a reliable site that users can always access. A solid web hosting service can give you all three of those. So which web hosting is the best? Lets look at the options.
Free Web Hosts vs. Paid Web Hosts
When comparing free web hosts to paid web hosts, its really a matter of you getting what you pay for. While free web hosts are great for small sites that are just starting out, they lack some of the key tools a small business needs to grow and be successful. Heres a quick comparison of free vs. paid web hosting:
Storage: The most popular free hosting sites have storage allowances ranging from 1500MB to about 10GB. The vast majority of the paid sites we reviewed offer unlimited storage space. While its true that a simple site will not need a ton of storage, if you plan to add images or grow your site in the future, you can run up against a 1500MB or even 10GB limit easily. This brings us to our second problem.
Upgrades: If you do outgrow your free hosting, it can be difficult to transfer your site to a new host from many free sites, and youre not likely to be able to redirect your old site, which could mean some visitors may get lost in the move. Paid hosting services generally offer easy upgrades to larger packages, and theyll allow you to download your entire site if you need to move it to another host.
Domain Names: Many free sites do not let you use your own domain name, so youll be stuck with something like www.freehosting.com/yourbusinessname. If you can use your own domain name, youll have to pay for it yourself, while most paid hosts offer a domain name free when you sign up for paid hosting.
Ads: Free web hosting services need to make money to support themselves, and often they do this is by placing ads on your website. You generally do not have any control over this advertising. Since they need the revenue from the ads they place on your site, lots of free hosting services also prohibit you from using ads of your own on your site, so if you were planning to use ad revenue from your traffic, think again.
Support: Free hosting will generally not come with much support, and certainly not 24 hour phone support, which paid hosts usually offer. They also offer 24 hour support by email and live web chat, which is invaluable if youre having trouble with your site. If youre a beginner, we think quality support is pretty much a necessity.
And really, paid web hosting services dont cost that much. Most of the top web hosts cost less than $4/month, which comes out to be less than $48/year; its not a lot to pay for hosting your entire website.
So what should you look for when choosing a web host for your small business? It really depends on your business. As much as free hosting platforms can help you to start out on a no-budget, it is highly recommended you go for a paid hosting service if you intend building a business that will stand the test of time.
Other Paid Web Hosting services we recommend are: