So, having messed around with web hosting for some time (both free and paid), I decided to give you a brief comparison between free and paid web hosting, according to my own experience.
Free web hosting
With free web hosting, you’re able to get your site up and running without paying anything. From my experience, although it’s reliable, but the performance is not too stable, sometimes the website can lag. Also free web hosts usually have more rules in terms of what you can and cannot do on your website. But the most common restriction I came across (at least in the terms of service of these hosts) is that you’re not allowed to have your own ads on the website. Also these hosts may force ads of their own on your website, according to this article. These free web hosts also offers limited storage (the one I last used offers like 5GB back then, but the offer might change by now). If you don’t plan to upload lots of images and videos, then free web hosting should be fine. Most web scripts take up only double digit megabytes and you’re unlikely going to need like 10 or 20 web scripts. In fact depending on your hosting provider you may be limited to the number of databases that you can have, which effectively means that you’ll only be able to install a limited number of web scripts. But the good thing is, most free web hosts nowadays offer a one-click installer along with PHP and MySQL which means that you can install things like PHPBB, WordPress, etc and in a few cases you might even get a complete CPanel to manage your website (beware of fake CPanels, as some web hosts will claim to offer CPanel but what you’re really getting is their own custom-built control panel, not real CPanel). With free hosting, the domain you get is not a top-level domain, but rather a subdomain. For me personally it’s totally fine, but sometimes the domain can be hard to remember, but this will depend on which web host you choose. And lastly, with free web host the only support you get is via the web host’s community forum, which is totally fine, provided that you’re willing to wait for a response, I.E the issue you’re having is not urgent.
Paid web hosting
With paid web hosting, you’ll get much more storage (in some cases even unlimited storage for a cheap price), your own top-level domain name which makes your website look more professional and more professional support, either via email, phone or live chat. Also the terms of service for paid web hosts are generally less restrictive, I.E they only forbid you to do things that are illegal. These web hosts also allow you to make money via ads, and don’t force their own ads on your website. You’ll usually get unlimited number of databases, which means that you can install as many scripts as you want; you’re only limited by the amount of storage you get. Like most free web hosts, paid web hosts nowadays come with PHP, MySQL and unlike free web hosts you’ll most likely get a real CPanel. But however paid web hosting will set you up for either a monthly or a yearly cost, and this cost will be there whether you make any money or not. Also beware that in most cases SSL, which is needed for e-commerce, doesn’t come standard with your hosting package, you’ll have to pay extra if you want to add SSL for use with e-commerce.
Whether you go for a free or a paid web host depends on your need. If you’re sure that you won’t be making money from your website, or if you’re just an ordinary blogger like me who only blogs about personal stuff, then free web hosting is totally fine, in fact if your main goal is to just blog about things, a complete blog hosting solution like wordpress.com or Blogger which is what this blog is powered by is probably the best choice as you won’t have to set up anything; you simply create an account, choose the name for the blog and the blog’s domain, select a theme and start blogging. However if you’re looking to make money from your site, or if you’re a small business looking for a web host to host the business’s website, or if you require more professional and faster support for whatever reason, then paid web hosting is the way to go.