Best Free Web Hosting Sites
Who gets tired of free stuff? Nobody… unless of course you recently hit your head and aren’t thinking clearly.
We all love free stuff. Free tacos, free beer, or even a free t-shirt that gets tossed in the back of a drawer and never sees the light of day again the rest of its natural life.
It seems the word “free” triggers a sort of genetic response that makes us sit up and take notice.
So let’s talk about about free web hosting. Is it a good thing like free beer or ill-fitting t-shirt? The answer, as you might suspect, depends on what you intend to accomplish with your website.
Paid web hosting services (or meilleur hébergement web for the French among us) certainly have their place in the world, but the reality is that not everyone who wants to put something online has grand plans to challenge Amazon in a face-to-face ecommerce retail death match.
Some of us have more modest intentions and just want a place to conduct email marketing campaigns, dump thoughts or share stuff quickly and without a lot of hassle.
If this latter idea describes you, it’s your lucky day. Keep reading to discover our no-holds-barred opinions on the top free (and almost free) web hosts on the market right now.
Free vs Cheap Basic Hosting
I just want to clarify something that I see a lot of people struggling with when it comes finding free hosting.
You won’t find a free host that gives you a free domain URL of your choosing – they don’t exist.
For example if I wanted to make a website about baking. There are no hosting companies that would provide you with mybakingwebsite.com. The reason is that it costs money to host the DNS and register the name.
Instead when it comes to free web hosting you can only get. mybakingwebsite.-
Your website is always owned by the parent company as is your domain name. You never own anything and in case you one day decide to retake your freedom – you’ll be charged a lot.
That’s why this review is about the cheapest “almost free” hosting companies. I’ve seen a lot of people make this mistake.
This aren’t isn’t a bait and switch but rather us sharing our advice after hosting hundreds of websites ourselves and seeing a lot of people get totally screwed over by free hosts.
Free Hosts Aren’t Really Free, Here’s Why…
Free hosts have servers to pay for, staff salary and marketing funnels to maintain.
So you might be wondering – how do they do that?
When hosting is not their product – you become their product (or in this case your data).
Here is how they ACTUALLY make money.
- Wait for you to upgrade – you end up paying 4-5X for migration fees.
- Malware + Spyware – Don’t believe me, read this.
- They sell your details – advertisers buy your information to try to market to you
- Forced advertising – you might end up with some crazy ad on your site.
- Unprofessional – if one day you want to turn your collection of cat pictures into a professional photo album to break into the bustling world of professional cat photography, your free domain name won’t help! 😿😿
5 Best “Almost-Free” Web Hosts
While the idea of 100% free web hosting is enough to start your tail wagging, don’t overlook the fact that their version of “free” might leave you with serious storage, performance, and bandwidth limitations.
…And unless you pay for an upgrade, you’re probably going to have to deal with their intrusive ads plastered all over your website – which is a big downside for many free website hosting services.
While it’s true you can keep the free hosting as long as you like, if you ever intend to get more serious about a full-fledged website, you’re going to want to eventually upgrade from free web hosting sites to a more robust plan that costs a little something each month.
These days, you might be surprised how many features and benefits a close-to-free web host includes for spending anywhere from $3 to $10 monthly. We’re talking about a free domain, email accounts, plenty of storage, and even eCommerce functionality.
Here are our top five favorite almost-free hosting companies:
1. Hostinger – Premium Hosting For Discount Pricing
Starting at $0.99/mo and 100 GB Bandwidth
Unbeatable price for high quality
CryptoCurrency payment option
The starting tier only allows you to host one website.
Every time we check in on Hostinger the average uptimes and load times are improved. Hostinger is a great option for low cost hosting – especially when just starting out. It’s hard to pass up a $0.99 per month price and upgrading to their unlimited premium option will only set you back $2.15 per month.
Website Builder Included 🔧
As an added bonus of cheap web hosting, Hostinger has a cheap website builder called Zyro. It consists of the basic and not so basic features. The most innovative is definitely Zyro’s Logo Maker. If you are looking to reinvent your brand’s logo you can do it in no time.
Hostinger has become a pretty popular option in the hosting world. Despite this we were still skeptical of their reported performance and decided to take a look. A year+ live tracking of their results revealed some impressive performance numbers.
Amazing Bonus Features 🤩
But even with their low prices, Hostinger comes with a plethora of bonuses to make them worth your while. For instance, you get free SSL certification, a free domain, and a free email account just for signing up with any of their plans. This allows you to bootstrap your way to a small online business or serious blog right off the cuff.
But that’s not all. Hostinger also benefits from average uptime of 99.91%. For those not in the know, this is exceptionally good and it means that your visitors shouldn’t have to deal with your site going down very often, if at all. Add to that an average load time of 389 ms and you have a rapid-fire, user-friendly hosting service that’s pretty great for the low price.
If you’d like to see our Hostinger uptime and downtime tests check out our full Hostinger Review.
2. SiteGround: Most Trusted Host
The Fastest Host at $6.99/month, Free SSL, 24/7 Support
24/7 support staff
Remote website installation from staff
SiteGround is THE most beginner friendly web host out there.
You’ll need to pay for an entire year up front
Thanks to an extensive list of extras and rock solid server technology, SiteGround should be on your short list of cheap, reliable hosts. We especially like the free website builder and domain that lets you get online fast at a minimum cost.
Setting up an Online Shop? 🛒
But the site builder is just the start. There’s also a host of e-commerce functionality and additions that make this a particularly good choice for those looking to start an online shop. For instance, alongside the site builder is a free shopping cart function, so customers can start buying things from your site ASAP. The 24/7 customer support can help you get things up and running with a minimum of technical hassle.
Incredible Performance ⚡
It even has slightly better uptime compared to Hostinger at 99.92% for its cheapest hosting service. This is, again, pretty darn low, and you’ll also be pleased to see that the service’s page loading times average below 500 ms on average, even over the course of several years. Suffice it to say that SiteGround is a great second option for folks looking for fast but affordable hosting services.
To find out why we crowned them number one, check out our SiteGround review for an in depth look at the company, their pricing tiers, and different service offerings.
3. Bluehost: THE Beginner Host
Starting at $2.95/mo, Free Domain
Ultra-competitive pricing for great VPS hosting
$100 charge for site migration
Bluehost has been at or near the top of the shared hosting world for a long time, with a well-deserved reputation for quality infrastructure and customer support that is actually inclined to help (when they’re online).
Free Website Builder Included 🏗️
Bluehost is particularly well known for WordPress users, and indeed the company advertises this hosting company pretty frequently. One of the big bonuses of this arrangement is the host (pun intended) of excellent templates.
This means you’ll be able to make your WordPress unique and engaging right from the get-go, especially since Bluehost comes with a site builder called Weebly: one of the best in the industry, especially for a low-cost.
Save on Server Resources 💾
But that’s not all. Bluehost also comes with Cloudflare CDN: a content delivery network that can improve your site’s page load speeds, plus reduce bandwidth and CPU usage for the server. It effectively makes your cheap server’s resources stretch even farther. There’s a lot to like here, as you can see.
In our hosting tests, Bluehost ranked near the top with in speed and performance – everything you would expect from an industry leader.
Free Features and Trial Upon Signup
Full 90-day money back guarantee
The lowest cost plans include some limitations
IT nerds and online entrepreneurs love the InMotion business-class hosting plans (we certainly do). You’ll pay a teensy bit more here than with the rock bottom folks, but gain a whole lot of value for not much extra cost.
What is that value? For starters, their servers use solid-state drives to ensure that all of their customers benefit from extremely fast load times. Considering that most visitors will click away if your site lags even a little bit, the value of this can’t be understated.
Advanced Features 🌟
But InMotion offers even more value in the form of unlimited bandwidth and email accounts, even for their basic server packages. Add to that free SSL certification and hack protection, plus free migration of your website from your current host, and it’s clear that InMotion Hosting is in business to steal you away from your current hosting service… And maybe you should let them.
With multiple datacenter choices and higher-end hardware, your InMotion experience should be a good one.
5. A2 Hosting
The Fastest Web Host in Canada
Unlimited everything with 99.9% uptime
Datacenters in USA, Europe, and Singapore
Refund period never expires
Price of an upgrade can be steep
Not just a reseller of prepackaged hosting plans, A2 Hosting decided decided to custom-build their hardware and software configurations for enhanced performance, speed, and security – presuming customers wouldn’t mind paying a few extra pennies per month for the kind of quality not always found in shared hosts.
Top Notch Security 🔒
Indeed, A2 Hosting offers a lot to like, including the aforementioned Cloudflare CDN plus SSD load times. That adds tremendous value to shared hosting, which is already traditionally associated with relatively slow loading speeds and servers that are constantly strapped for resources.
Simple to Use 🐤
Even better, A2 Hosting comes with extremely easy WordPress installation with one click, plus free website builder access and tons of templates so you can customize your site to your heart’s content. A plethora of advanced security features (including a feature called HackScan, one of the best) rounds out this host’s offerings and solidifies it as one of the best almost-free web hosting services available.
Not Free… But Best Host Overall (With a Great Discount)
Promotes environmental-friendly business practices
HostPapa is glad to migrate your CMS website for free
The harder the case the longer the wait period for customer support
HostPapa is more than a churn and burn shared hosting deep discounter. This company’s goal is to acquire customers through their low-priced starter plan, then prove themselves to be a full-service business partner.
HostPapa continues to roll out more eCommerce features for entrepreneur-minded clients.
4 Best “Free” Web Hosts
Are there any truly free web host companies out there?
Yep, there are.
We scoured the internet for the biggest hosting bang for no bucks to be found.
Believe it or not, there are some legitimate best free web hosting services out there, one of which at least should be a fit for your project whether you’re a naive newbie, hobby website designer, or an advanced developer who needs a place to stash his or her work with all the bells and most of the whistles.
Free Hosting + Free Website Builder
New templates and features coming online all the time
Live support is almost non-existent
This leading website builder is so simple that you can create an account and be building your website in a matter of minutes – very few minutes. Using the builder itself is a quick learning curve. In no time at all you’ll be manipulating menus, text, images, sliders, and more. It’s no wonder why we chose Wix as the #1 website builder on the market today.
Best Free Web Host for eCommerce
Potential eCommerce goldmine
eCommerce features are only available with a hosting plan that you pay for
Volusion specializes in entrepreneurs looking to build and host and online store. While not the cheapest option if you’re just looking to throw up an informational site or personal blog, those who are ready to jump into eCommerce will love this company’s focus on the business side of things.
Affordable With a Great Support Team
The website builder is good for the price
Capability to preview your site in both desktop and mobile view as you create it
The 15 day refund period is kind of stingy.
For the extremely cost-conscious consumer who can get by with a no-frills basic website or needs email hosting more than anything, One’s starter package includes a domain, unlimited email accounts, and website builder at the rate of $3 a year. Packages tier up from there with a WordPress enabled plan costing about $3.50/month.
A Bit Pricey (After Free Trial Expires) but the Best eCom Option Available
One-stop shop for building a fully-functional online marketplace.
Payment processing expenses if you choose any other route than the in-house option Stripe
Shopify is known for eCommerce, so if that’s the direction you’re headed, this web hosting company is geared for helping you get an online store up and going with a minimum of fuss. The Shopify subdomain option is perfect for sellers with a tiny budget who need to make a few bucks before they consider upgraded hosting.
5 Best of the Rest: Other Free Hosts and Builders Worth Watching
To revisit a familiar topic – it’s human nature to look for the best deal and it doesn’t get much better than free. That’s why the web hosting industry has jumped hard on the idea and run with it, becoming so jampacked with cheap and low cost options dangled in front of consumers like some kind of irresistible bait that it’s hard to sort them all out.
Well, it’s our mission to sort them out. That’s what we do around here. Some deep discount hosts are worth a sniff, while others are downright excellent companies, and a few you wouldn’t want to go near without a stout stick to whack ‘em with. These are our unvarnished opinions based on testing them all one by one.
Without further ado, let’s dig into our list of the five best hosting services that don’t fit comfortably into the first two categories. We’ll call them the Best of the Rest.
Truly free web hosting with some bandwidth and storage limitations.
Somewhat lacking when it comes to customer and technical support
Having provided no-cost hosting to almost 14 million customers since 2007, 000Webhost might not be first on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but it has proven itself to be a more than capable web host.
If you’re looking for website hosting free of charge that is best suited for small to medium-sized accounts, this provider was one of the first to offer free SSL certificates, a practice that has become industry standard.
Active support community of 750,000 members.
Some would think this service is pricier than others
Active support community of 750,000 members.
The footer of the website is branded with the Weebly.com logo
Weebly has good name recognition in the DIY drag-and-drop world of website building. Their quality, especially when it comes to templates, has improved in recent years. The basic free package doesn’t offer much in the way of features but, like Wix, allows you to get a professional-looking web presence online in a short amount of time.
Basic plan prices at just .17 cents/month.
Good hosting plan along with a ticket-based support system
Lack of drag-and-drop design capability
The AwardSpace business model is similar to better known names like Wix and Weebly in that that it uses free hosting to allow potential customers to try the service, hoping they will decide to add pay services as their needs become more sophisticated. Not much bandwidth or storage for free, and some will miss having a drag-and-drop editor.
The server cluster idea is a very customer-friendly feature
The free plan’s 250MB of included storage is not enough
Boasting a load-balanced server cluster approach, Freehostia claims to have up to 15x faster page-loading than comparable free hosts. Even the free plan has no advertising, which is nice and allows your website to look professional right out of the gate. Impressive 24/7 support.
What is Web Hosting and Why Do You Need It?
First things first – why do you even need to bother with web hosting? Can’t you just make a website and be done with it? Not exactly.
You can make a site using either your own coding prowess or a website builder. But you need a place to store the data and code for your website. That place is a server, which is best thought of as a computer that other computers talk to when they seek out your website and pull data from it.
So if you want your website to be up and available on the Internet or everyone to see, you need web server space. Most people rent web server space through web hosting services. In a nutshell, this just means you pay a monthly fee, and the hosting company “hosts” your website on the greater internet using their server.
Types of (Free) Web Hosting Available
There are multiple different types of web hosting depending on the resources you need and the cost you are willing to stomach:
Free web hosting is usually shared. Shared hosting means that you share server space and resources (i.e. RAM, CPU, storage, bandwidth, etc.) with other renters
- Shared hosting is usually the cheapest and most common type of hosting, but serious professionals and businesses avoid it for good reasons
- Dedicated web hosting means you have an entire server (or at least a part of a server) that no one else can touch. You get undiluted resources and faster speeds for everything your site holds
- Managed web hosting means that someone manages your website and server updates for you, and this can include many ancillary services like security updates, regular backups, and so on
- VPS hosting is sort of a cross between shared and private hosting. While your site may physically be on a shared server, it uses virtual private server space (VPS space) to simulate the resource draw and responsiveness of a dedicated server
- And more
Ultimately, each type of web hosting can be useful for different needs. The trick, of course, is figuring out what exactly you need and whether or not you should pay for your web hosting service.
Buying Guide – What to Look For in a Free Web Hosting Service?
There are lots of things to keep in mind as you browse free and almost-free web hosting services. Let’s break each of the major factors down one-by-one.
Hosting Types 🤔
Of course, your hosting type is possibly the most important factor to consider. Remember, all free hosting services will be shared, meaning you’ll have pretty low resources like bandwidth, storage space, and the like. This will limit your ability to grow your site and the maximum number of visitors you can have per month.
Almost-free web hosting has more freedom. You can find shared, VPS, and even dedicated server hosting depending on where exactly you look. These are almost always better choices since you’ll get greater bandwidth, more storage space, and extra bonuses like free SSL certification.
If you run a WordPress site, keep an eye out for managed WordPress hosting. This is a unique type of web hosting specifically formatted for WordPress sites. It includes management of your server and site and is a popular choice for business owners that need to focus more on big picture stuff rather than keeping their site up-to-date with the latest security patch.
Regular WordPress hosting is pretty similar without the management, but it still includes a lot of WordPress-specific goodies and bonuses, like plug-in functionality or faster download speeds for certain types of media.
Bandwidth and Storage 📀
Naturally, how much bandwidth and storage space a hosting service provides dictates how quickly and efficiently your site can grow. If you’re looking to become a major blogger or grow an online business, you need as much of these two resources as possible.
Bandwidth measures how quickly the server can give out data to your visitors. More bandwidth means more visitors and more visitors accessing your pages quickly. The last thing you want in this day and age are slow-loading pages since visitors’ short attention spans can easily cause them to click away if your page takes more than 500 ms to load.
Storage directly measures how much data you can put on the site before needing to delete stuff. You naturally need much more storage space if you have a lot of pictures, videos, and other media on your site.
Domain Name Policies 👀
Some web hosts will give you a free domain name with any of their plans. Your domain name is one of the most recognizable parts of your digital empire, so it’s important that you own the domain name and can keep it going as you switch between web hosts. This is one of the big spots where free web hosting drops the ball, its none of those services will give you a free domain name. However, you can always drop by some of the best domain registrars online and purchase a name separately.
Others might even offer you unlimited domain names or subdomains. Regardless, see how many domains a web hosting service comes with for another estimate of their value.
Bonus Features ✨
Lots of web hosting services will draw you in with certain free offers or bonuses. These can be things like:
- Included website builders. These hosts allow you to build your own website from scratch without a lick of coding experience
- Plug-in functionalities. Most serious bloggers and website owners use plug-ins to make their jobs easier or to give their visitors more options
- SSL certification. This can be pretty costly on its own, but you need SSL certification to get the padlock symbol at the top of the address bar on your browser. This is important so you adhere to certain privacy regulations like the GDPR and so your visitors trust you with their personal information
- Migration bonuses. Some hosts come with migration discounts, and others might even let you migrate your site to their servers for free. This can seriously cut down on your overall costs.
Control Panel 🕹️
Lastly, check to see what control panel a web hosting service uses. Most web hosts use cPanel, an intuitive and widespread control panel that allows you to control most aspects of your server space and website without too much difficulty. But others might use proprietary or lesser-known control panels.
Keep this in mind in case you have experience with one panel and don’t want to learn something different after migrating your site to a new host.
Final ThoughtsIf you’re serious about starting an online business or communicating to the world, we’ll be the first to agree that free web hosting might not be the best long-term hosting solution (these small business hosts would be wiser options).
However, there are some excellent reasons to go this route in the beginning. Obviously, there’s the price thing – we’re talking either completely free or anywhere from pennies to just a few dollars per month. This can seriously help you reduce website development costs if you’re on a tight budget.
Often overlooked is the idea that these companies (the credible ones anyway) want your business for the long haul, and they know you will judge them on the quality of their free and basic plans. As we’ve mentioned, they want you to eventually upgrade into higher price points but know they’re going to have to deliver the goods at the free level first.
The bottom line is that, if the features of a particular host don’t mesh with you, it’s VERY cheap to give another one a test ride.
So, you still don’t have a website online? What are you waiting for?! We’ve put the tools right in your hands – now go get it!