Free or paid web hosting?
Just finished your first website? So it's the time to look for some hosting and make a choise. Your first qustion probably will be whether to choose free or paid hosting service. Let's have a look at some advantages and disadvantages of these solutions.
Free web hosting:
(+) It's for free. You don't need to pay for domain name.
(-) Your URL will be something like username.freehost.com or freehost.com/username. As I noticed above, the advantage is that you don't need to pay for domain. But note that if you move your website to another provider in the future you can loose some or all your traffic (there are some solutions how to solve this problem but it is not the point of this article).
(-) Your provider will probably include ads to your pages - usually 1 or 2 banners, sometimes popup windows. If you plan to use banner exchange on your site read carefully their Terms and conditions. Some free hosts doesn't allow it.
(-) Free hosts usually allow lower bandwith then paid hosts and a lot of them don't offer futures like PHP and MySQL.
(-) A lot of free hosts change their Terms and conditions during some time. If your free host offers hosting wihtout ads now, don't be surprised when banner or popup appears on your site in the future.
(-) Sometimes happens that free hosts cancel their free service and longer offer paid hosting only. In this case you have only 2 choises - pay them or loose your website.
Paid web hosting:
(+) You can host your own domain. If you decide to change the web hosting provider in the future, you easily transfer the domain to the new provider and don't loose your traffic.
(+) Most paid hosts offer 24/7 support via email or live chat and some of them provide toll-free phone support.
(+) You can expect better uptime then on free host. Some paid hosts offer uptime guarantee.
(+) Paid hosts usually offer enough disk space and bandwith. Futures like PHP and MySQL are standard. Even if you are not programmer you can download plenty of free PHP scripts from internet.
(-) Paid hosting coast money
Before you make the decision if choose free or paid host you should answer this question: How big ambitions do I have with my website? If you are starting small personal page for your friends consist of a few *.html files then free host will be sufficient. In case you plan to run serious business website, need PHP, database and don't want ads on the site I recommend to look for quality paid host.