Be Careful with Free Web Hosting and Free Domains

Have you seen those attractive offers with a free domain or free web hosting as the headline? I will tell you everything about them. In the end, you realize they are actually not free.

After going through this article, your understanding of choosing your best web host will be better. I will actually help you see the business models behind these offers, 101% designed to benefit the web hosting service providers.

Am very sure you will not get this kind of information elsewhere. Just type Free domains or free web hosting on your browser and the results you get are affiliate marketers tricking you into buying a domain from somewhere.

After reading this, you will be more cautious when making decisions about the best web host for your website or blog.

Free Domain, Cheap Web hosting

That’s would be more than you actually asked for, right? But just a moment.

Everyone wants affordable web hosting. You don’t want to spend all you have paying for web hosting.

That does not mean you should compromise on the quality of service you get.

A free domain is a bait. Yes, it’s meant to entice you to subscribe to a particular web hosting plan.

Do you remember the ‘buy one cat, get one free’ marketing strategy? It actually took many of us years to realize that it was actually ‘buy one cat at the price of two’.

Asking them to give you the free cat without buying anything is like asking for a free domain without paying for any hosting.

Look here. I am a shrewd sales manager of a web hosting company. The sales in the last quarter dropped by a huge margin.

Things don’t look good now either. I call for a meeting with my sales team. I have an idea. Some mathematics.

Our standard shared web hosting plan costs $34 per year. We get .com domains from the registrar at a $6 each. A new client in need of a domain and web hosting would, therefore, pay $40 in total.

So what do we do to attract new clients? Launch a campaign this summer with FREE DOMAIN as the headline. Give free domains to new clients, but revise the web-hosting cost to $40.

But just a moment. Some may be prudent enough to see the trick. If our competitors are offering a domain plus hosting at something less than $40, then our offer would not be attractive enough.

But we have another option. Still give a free domain, slightly adjust the web-hosting cost to maybe $36.

It would take us 3 years to recover our $6, while still reaping from a larger number of web hosting clients.

We still have another option. We need to recover our $6 within a shorter period of time.

We adjust the annual domain renewal cost upwards by $2, and the web hosting fee by 1$.

It would take us 2 years to recover our $6, still having increased the number of clients subscribed to our web hosting plans. And that’s all we wanted.

You realize that free domains are as a result of intensive boardroom meetings.

All with an agenda of increasing sales without compromising on the returns to the web hosting company.

It’s like getting booked at a restaurant with free accommodation but very costly meals. At the end of the day, you end up paying for both your accommodation and meals.

And that’s the best way to look at it. A free domain benefits the web hosting company and is by no means any relief to your wallet.

Have a look at this free domain offer. The type of domain on offer is some strange TLD that nobody would admit for free in case I needed a website transfer.

Free Domain offer at Biz

And did you see the trick? Free domain but you must first choose one of the hosting plans.

In fact, for this offer, you have to first signup for a web hosting plan, and then from the Control Panel account, you can register free domains there.

Free Web Hosting, Cheap Domain

Some web hosting companies will be promoting some TLDs affiliated to their business.

To popularize the specific TLD, they adopt models that offer free web hosting, still without making losses.

What do they get in return? The registrar gives a certain number of domains for free, or sells them at a cheap price, say $2 each.

But the web hosting company is in business, so they must ultimately get some coins out of your pocket, whether directly or indirectly.

How? You will have to buy a particular domain associated with the free hosting plan. If they sell the domains for $5, that’s a cool $3 to their accounts for every domain sold.

Still, they can give the domains for free but get money from you through other backdoor means.

Free Domain Names with unpopular extensions

And what do you have? A domain with an extension not so common among other web hosting companies.

How dangerous this becomes clear when you are not happy with the web hosting services and wish to migrate to a better web host.

Checking with your target web hosting company, you realize that they have free migration only for a few popular domain extensions such as .org, .com and .net.

Solution? You either upgrade to a better web hosting plan with your current host and pay for it dearly, or do away with your website altogether.

And if you do not ask the hard questions early enough, you will realize that the hosting plan actually has no SSL Certificate.

Running a website or blog without an SSL Certificate in 2019 is just close to impossible.

And where do you expect to get the certificate from? A good neighbor? Certainly not. The same company will sell an SSL Certificate to you.

Still, the hosting offered has the poorest levels of shared hosting on earth. But they will always keep sending you emails that you can upgrade from the free hosting plan.

This is of course after ensuring that your free plan cannot accommodate a 46Mb WordPress theme with 14 images and 3 posts.

Free web hosting with very limited resources

Did you see that offer? You have 1000 MB disk space, 5 GB traffic, not forgetting the domain you are locked up with.

Such web hosts are known to have a particular server where they bundle you up together and suffocate you with thousands of other websites in there.

Some will even trap you in there with complicated migration, sometimes paid. You came in free, you are trapped inside with poor hosting and you have to pay to leave.

Nobody offers dedicated hosting or VPS hosting for free. All free and cheap web hosting is actually shared hosting.

Shared hosting can actually turn out to be a nightmare, even when offered by the most trusted companies globally.

And the reason is obvious. Several websites are hosted in one common server. Yes, hundreds, sometimes thousands of websites are bundled onto a single server.

If you are already subscribed to a shared plan, your heart skipped a beat right there.

In fact, there is no limit on the number of websites that a single server can accommodate. This is what makes it the most affordable web hosting plan.

I will let you know what happens with shared hosting in a short while.

But first, it’s good to mention that most companies offering cheap web hosting, sometimes ‘free web hosting’ or free domains are actually selling this.

Whichever the company you choose, once you subscribe for a shared hosting plan, you agree to share a single server with several other websites.

Let me use this example. John is visiting Kenya, specifically Mombasa for the first time. He is checking for some good hotels where his family would be accommodated during his one week stay at the coast.

John uses the words ‘cheap hotels in Mombasa” in his search. Google faithfully gives him a list of search results.

A number of them are sponsored search results. All targeting people looking for cheap accommodation in Mombasa. John is impressed by one of them (and cheap is always impressive).

Cheap Hotels in Mombasa Search Results on Google

The offer is good. An unlimited number of family members will be accommodated at no extra cost.

Whoa! John quickly pays the required deposit and starts preparing for the trip.

Getting to the coast, John checks in to his booked hotel. The manager is overwhelmed by the number of people he has to attend to.

The lavatories are shared among a crowd of people. In the morning people are lined up in long queues waiting for their turn.

A number of conflicts are already being resolved at the one office. Someone did what when it was not his turn. Someone picked what from where. Chaos.

In the same way, a web hosting server has resources. You actually pay to access and utilize these resources.

The most important resources you want to be careful with are web disc space, bandwidth, the processor and memory.

Just like John, if you sign up for a cheap or free web hosting plan, you are actually agreeing to share these resources with several other websites accommodated in that particular server.

Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting. PHOTO COURTESY

John’s host would never know what number of people were inside the hotel, with everyone checking in fully loaded with relatives and friends.

This is a crisis already, however how much the management would be ready to be the best host.

The resources available at the hotel would be ever strained, for as long as the hotel remains in business using the same model.

In the same way, web host service providers offering shared hosting may promise unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, unlimited web disc space, unlimited everything.

Wait until your website is receiving a few hundreds of traffic in one hour. All types of errors. Server Busy. Server not available. Try again later. That’s when you start looking for their contacts.

You actually don’t want to imagine that some shared web hosting plans will still offer limited bandwidth, limited memory, and limited disc space. Now that becomes a real headache.

You have limitations on the resources you can access, while the same resources are shared by thousands of other people, probably with higher limits than yourself.

Slow websites and shared hosting are close twin sisters. With thousands of sites requesting the same resources, this is unavoidable. Sometimes the server is overloaded and stops altogether.

When this happens, none of your many sites hosted in the server is available, until the server is restored.

You only become a faithful consumer of 503 errors. It hurts your online reputation. It cuts down a huge chunk of your web traffic.

The common Error 503 with overloaded Shared Servers

Visitors to your website greeted by ‘try again later’ error messages may actually decide to try again at the end of next year. To them, that may be the meaning of later.

Even worse, with shared hosting comes security issues, including hacking. I doubt if any serious company out there subscribes to a shared web hosting plan.

You would have thought that just because you have a unique domain, a well-protected Cpanel and WordPress Dashboard, your site is running independently.

Not so. In fact, if a malicious person manages to hit the server hosting your site, all the websites in the server are affected.

And that’s how vulnerable, slow and unreliable your site becomes with free or almost free web hosting.

Free Domain, Free Web Hosting

You would actually need to probably search the deepest web to get such an offer.

I doubt if any such offer exists, and if it does, I would be really interested.

Not because I need it, but just to have a taste of what it means to be duped in 2019, I would actually subscribe.

A free domain and free web hosting for one year maybe? Then the whole amount would have to be recovered in the annual renewals.

Whichever the case, you need to understand that these are business entities, whose aim is to make profits.

You don’t make profits by dishing out everything you have to everyone for free.

Such offers may also be a trap by companies selling SSL Certificates separately.

Now have a look at this offer. Free web hosting 1000 MB disk space, 5 GB traffic or Free domains but without an SSL Certificate. And how much will you need to pay for the certificate? Just a few dollars!

SSL Certificate Purchased Separately with Free Web Hosting

Since you can only buy the certificates from them, they would actually make you pay dearly for it. And yes, in this case, you would have to part with some $29.95 per year for a standard SSL Certificate.

In Conclusion

Be careful with free domains and free web hosting offers. Why gamble with such an important thing as your online presence?

A free domain or free web hosting is not the best choice for you. The better thing to do would be doing enough window shopping and choosing the best web host that meets your needs.

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