Everyone loves free things. However, there are certain things in life that you can’t trust if they’re free. One of those happens to be web hosting. Free WordPress hosting often comes with many downsides that you may not know before purchasing a plan.
Fortunately, there are plenty of relatively cheap WordPress hosting plans that you can opt for, even if you’re on a strict budget. Hosting is a very competitive industry, meaning many companies offer starter packages at affordable prices for all businesses.
In this article, we’ll break down six considerations to keep in mind before trying out a free WordPress hosting plan. We’ll also discuss how much WordPress hosting plans cost on average to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get to it!
6 things you need to know about free WordPress hosting
As you might imagine, free hosting comes with a lot of caveats. Hosting a website can be an expensive endeavor if you get a lot of traffic. As such, it stands to reason that companies can’t offer those services for free.
The problem is that many free hosting providers don’t tell you what you’re getting into if you sign up for one of their plans. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to free WordPress hosting.
1. Free hosting can be slow
By “slow”, we mean that your website and WordPress admin might take a long time to load. That’s because, with free hosting, your website will likely reside on a shared server. Free plans tend to attract a lot of users, which translates to overcrowding.
Traditionally, reputable web hosts limit the number of users that share servers so that you all get access to a decent amount of resources. However, with free hosting, all bets are off the table.
When servers are overwhelmed by the number of requests, they start taking too long to respond to them. In some cases, you might not even be able to access your website since the connection will time out.
That may not be a dealbreaker if you’re using free WordPress hosting for a personal project or testing purposes. However, regular downtime or a slow website won’t be acceptable if you plan to attract a lot of visitors or run an online business using WordPress.
2. You might not get full access to your server
Depending on which type of hosting plan you use, you’ll get different kinds of access to your website’s server. A typical shared package will enable you to connect to your website via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).
Using these programs means you can see and edit files directly:
Furthermore, suppose you’re using a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a dedicated hosting plan. In these cases, you’ll also get access to Secure Shell (SSH) functionality on top of FTP/SFTP.
SSH enables you to connect to your server and use the command line to interact with it directly. As such, you’ll have almost complete control over its configuration.
With a free hosting plan, you probably may not even get FTP access. That means your only way of interacting with WordPress will be through its dashboard. Although the dashboard itself is a fantastic panel, sometimes you’ll need access to your site’s back end to troubleshoot problems or to edit files.
3. There are limited hosting control panels
If you’ve ever used regular web hosting before, you know that you also get access to a control panel when you sign up for a plan. Hosting control panels come in many shapes and sizes.
Additionally, they usually include a broad array of features and tools that you can use to interact with your server:
A great hosting control panel will enable you to configure your server and website without needing an experienced server administrator. The problem is, free WordPress hosting plans will often provide you with a very limited dashboard.
That’s because, with most free plans, the provider doesn’t want you to make any changes to their setup. Instead, you get a basic package that might not work entirely to your needs. However, since it’s free, you don’t have any room to complain about it.
4. Free hosting sometimes includes branding
Some web hosts don’t offer free plans out of the kindness of their hearts. Instead, they alert you that they reserve the right to display branding on your website if you choose a free package. Usually, those advertisements come in a footer or a sticky header that visitors won’t be able to dismiss.
Having your web host’s advertising on display won’t affect your site from a technical standpoint. However, that branding can make your website look unprofessional, which is a big downside if you’re hoping to attract clients.
5. There is limited storage and bandwidth
As you might expect, free WordPress hosting often comes with strict limitations. By “limitations”, we mean that you’ll probably only get access to minimal amounts of storage space and bandwidth:
It’s hard to grow a website without access to a decent amount of storage space unless you plan on only publishing text content. Likewise, low bandwidth limits mean that your web host can reduce access to your plan if you start getting a decent amount of traffic.
These days, it’s not uncommon for even budget WordPress web hosts to offer substantial amounts of storage and high bandwidth limits. That’s because they understand most customers don’t want to spend time agonizing about hitting arbitrary caps. However, with free hosting, that’s likely going to be a daily worry you’ll have to contend with.
6. There is a lack of support services
One of the best parts of using a reputable web hosting provider is that you’ll get access to around-the-clock support. Even if your web host doesn’t offer 24/7 support, they’ll probably get back to you relatively quickly:
If you use a WordPress-friendly web hosting service, the agents you deal with will probably know the Content Management System (CMS) back to front. However, if you’re working with free hosting, you may not get access to support services at all.
That’s because support services cost money. Furthermore, hosting providers have no incentive to use up resources on non-paying customers.
If you’re lucky, your hosting provider might have community forums where you can ask other users for help if you run into problems with your website. However, you can find these discussions for free on WordPress anyway.
As such, you’ll likely be stuck Googling how to troubleshoot issues and how to implement features. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire WordPress experts for their assistance.
A lack of website support might not be a dealbreaker if you’re an experienced WordPress user. Still, it almost certainly is if you’re about to launch your very first site.
The average costs of WordPress website hosting
The idea of free hosting can be very attractive. However, now that you understand the many downsides of free WordPress hosting, it’s time to talk about real costs. Despite what you might think, you don’t need to spend massive sums of money to host a website.
On average, shared hosting plans for many reputable providers start at around $5 per month or less. If you check out the web hosting providers recommended on WordPress.org, all of them offer plans that cost around $2.99-3.99 per month:
It’s important to understand that most low-cost hosting options are for shared plans. However, you can also find relatively inexpensive managed WordPress hosting packages. Any reputable managed hosting provider can give a more personalized experience and help your website reach its full potential.
Hosting plans get more expensive as you start looking into advanced options such as VPSs and dedicated tiers. However, if you’re working on your first website or a new project, you probably can’t go wrong with a budget host.
Alternatively, if this isn’t your first WordPress site, you can look into providers that offer custom hosting plans based on your needs (such as FreshySites).
If free hosting sounds too good to be true, that’s because it usually is. You can find plenty of free WordPress hosts on the market. However, few if any of them are worth your time unless you’re using them for testing or personal purposes.
The good news is there are plenty of amazing WordPress web hosts that offer plans starting at very competitive prices (below $5 per month). If you’re willing to spend a bit more, managed WordPress hosting plans often offer fantastic experiences. They’re also suitable for all site types, from beginners to veterans developing web projects.
Picking the perfect WordPress host can be challenging. There are hundreds of options to choose from. Furthermore, if you’re not familiar with web development, figuring out which web host suits your needs best requires a lot of research. If you want a worry-free managed WordPress hosting experience that helps you grow your website, we can help you design the perfect plan for you.