jonathan lackman

MCSE, MCSA, Project Management, SEO, Web Design

Why should I pay for website hosting?

I can get hosting for free, so why pay?

This is a question I get asked quite often as I interact with customers who are contemplating development of a web presence. There are several reasons why you would want to secure paid hosting instead of free hosting. Let me count the ways; 1,2,3,4...

  • Funny urls. Even if you buy your own domain, the free hosted site could end up with some funny url like;
  • Ads: Most/many websites that are free generate revenue from ads on your site
    • So you end up with a website about healthy living, and ads about Wild Turkey and cigarettes, so some similar dichotomy.
    • Ads look unprofessional on a professional site.
    • You don't get the revenue from the ads; even if you wanted ads, you should set it up, control it, and get the revenue.
    • Yes, Michael and Bryan, I know you can kill the Godaddy ads with a simple code hack, but think about it;
      • first, I'm sure you are violating their TOS, and the site could be shut down without warning. This is not good on a production, commercial, or professional site. I haven't really read the entire TOS but I bet this is prohibited.
      • second, think about it; there is all the code pulling the ads, then there is the code you have added to kill the ad. None of this helps SEO, which should be your primary consideration.
  • Performance constraints; most free hosting, whether they say it or not, will throttle CPU and bandwidth on a free site. At least the company mentioned in our free hosting review tells you about it.
  • SEO performance depends partially on site response time, and site performance. Recent (03/2010) articles discuss Google's new focus on site performance extensively.
    • If you're serious about performance, you'd also move to a dedicated IP hosting solution.
  • Limited access to logs and traffic reports. Most free sites give you limited access to logs and traffic reports.
    • On a paid site, you'll get full raw log access, along with 1,2,3 or more preinstalled log programs like awStats.
  • Proprietary control panel solutions. Most free, and some paid hosting (Godaddy) use proprietary control panel solutions that will NOT work with many commercial, popular scripts, add-ins, and features.
    • Good, standard, commodity paid hosting should provide cPanel access to lots of add on scripts, all for free. Here is a sample from HostGator. You just don't get that from most free sites, or even some paid ones.
    • Bryan, please note this list also includes one of the best open source CRM products; vtiger CRM. This would work great for managing a customer list for a small business; you could even give them access to the app.
  • Ugly static error pages on free sites.
    • Most free sites load up their error pages with ads. On a paid site, you can customize the error pages, on most free hosting sites you cannot.
    • The other thing some free hosting sites do is set all error pages to a 404 redirect, so any error pages to their home page.
    • Paid sites, you can customize the error pages and create something useful and beautiful. Not something ugly. Yep, you're right; I don't have custom error pages on this site so you can look at one of the ugly ones here.
  • Support; Most free hosting sites DE-prioritize support for free hosting, if they offer support at all. Their primary support responsibility is to their paid customers. It only makes sense.
  • Limited features;
    • Most free hosting will limit what features you can have; 5 email addresses, 2 mysql dbs, etc. With paid hosting it's pretty extensive; some of the least expensive accounts offer unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, unlimited subdomains, unlimited ftp, free automated backups, unlimited MySQL, Ruby, unlimited POP accounts, etc. You just can't get all that on a free account.
  • Adwords for free. Oh yeah, don't let me forget; most paid hosting includes some free adwords, Facebook ad credits or other useful credits when you set up the account initially. At Hostgator, they are currently offering $100.00 of free Google adwords credits.

I am a Godaddy reseller, but I only recommend buying domains there. Use the link at the bottom of this page. Backordering expired domains works well on Godaddy for $18.00; it's a good first tier prior to going to SEDO or POOL.

For hosting, I am a HostGator reseller, please contact me. Email me here;


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