Asking if free hosting is really "free" in practice can almost sound like a play on words or a mistaken understanding of the meaning of free; however, once you understand the practicalities of using different types of hosting and the potential restrictions that come with free hosting, it is easy to see how it can actually be a financially negative decision to sign up for this type of hosting.

Let's delve into this more closely to discover if and when you should use free hosting and what the practical alternatives are to it.

Free Hosting Comes With Restrictions: It is relatively easy to understand that no company is going to give you hosting for free without you having to give them back something in return. Certain free hosts will, in return for letting you host your site for free, make you display their advertisements on your websites' pages. You usually have no control over the types of advertisements that are displayed to your website visitors and unfortunately this can often mean showing ads which have promoted products you usually wouldn't want to be shown alongside your content. This can reduce your readership and lead to fewer webmasters linking to your site as they don't like to send people to sites with a lot of advertising.

Commercial Restrictions: Another frustrating problem that many users of "free" hosting experience is that they cannot make income from their website in the way they would like. This is due to a large percentage of free web hosts not allowing websites with a commercial intent to use their services. For example, if you want to use's hosting service, then a precondition of doing this is agreeing to not monetise it in any way. Not following these rules can see your website being deleted without any warning. These restrictions on monetisation can cost you considerably more money in lost earnings than you would gain from using sensible income generation strategies with a paid shared hosting account.

Free Means A Huge Loss Of Control: When you use freely provided hosting it means giving up a huge amount of the control you enjoy with paid hosting. For just a few dollars extra each month you gain all the benefits not available with most free hosting like being able to create blogs and websites on any topic you choose, monetise in any way you like, be free from obligations to display third party advertisements and have complete control over your website and content at all times. With free accounts you are basically putting your website in the hands of a third party to place restrictions on your usage and even close down your website on a whim if they so choose. When looked at in this context, free hosting really doesn't seem so "free" after all!

Conclusion: While at the outset free hosting can seem like a good way to save money, when faced with the facts of loss of control and a large number of content and monetisation restrictions, it really doesn't look like such a good deal after all. The best solution is to pay a few dollars a month for a reliable shared hosting account that gives you complete control over your website.