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36 Reasons Why Having a “Free Website” is a Bad Idea

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36 Reasons Why Having a “Free Website” is a Bad Idea

The thought of getting free website is tempting. The internet is full of companies offering free website hosting even for self-hosted WordPress. You’re probably wondering what’s the catch? Why isn’t everyone else using a free WordPress website? In this article, we will share 36 reasons why having a free website is a bad idea and something that you should AVOID at all costs.

Why free website is a bad idea

What Do We Mean by Free Website?

Most beginners who want to start their own website want to keep the cost low which is understandable.

So you typically Google the term free website and find many companies offering free website hosting services for free.

The thought of having free web hosting and building your site without paying anything is tempting.

Until you get a reality check. Once you sign up to these so-called “free website services”, you slowly start discovering the limitations and many of them turn out to be not free at all.

If you or your friend is thinking about getting a free website, then stop now.

And read these 36 reasons why free websites are almost always a bad idea.

1. Extremely slow websites

Most free website hosting providers put hundreds of websites sharing the same server. This makes all their websites load at very low speeds. Slow websites create bad user experience and are bad for SEO.

2. Unprofessional web address

Having a website address like mysmallbusiness.Freewebsite.com does not look professional at all. Visitors to your website and potential customers would find it quite difficult to take your website seriously when you don’t even have a proper domain name.

And when you ask these companies for a custom domain, you usually have to pay a premium – something like $19 – $25 for a domain which normally costs $10.

3. Trial Service is Not Really Free

Many of these free website services often turn out to be limited trials. After a while you are asked to pay for it. In most cases, this price is usually way higher than normal WordPress hosting services. If you added a credit card during signup, then they can charge you without giving you any warning.

4. Hidden charges for free website

Like any other business, these free website companies need to make money too. Some of them charge their users for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer, etc. These charges are often outrageously high.

5. They can lock down your data

Many users who start with a free website and then want to move to a paid service, find it impossible to move their website data. These service providers do not offer any tools to easily migrate your site. Users end up paying freelancers to manually export their content which can quickly increase your bill.

6. Irrelevant advertisements on your website

Most of these free website services are supported by advertisements. You create content and build your website, but they get paid for the ads. Often these ads are distracting, intrusive, and look ugly.

The worst part is, sometimes your savvy competitors can then pay these free website hosting companies to advertise on your website. Talk about sabotaging your business.

7. They can shut down your website

The terms and conditions of these services clearly state that they can shutdown your website at anytime without providing you a reason. If they shutdown a website, they usually don’t give your data or provide you a way to save your content.

Site not found

8. These companies can disappear at anytime

At any time, the free website company can decide to pack up their business and go. They would simply shutdown their servers, and you will loose your website and all the data. Their terms of service give them full legal protection to do so.

9. You will lose your site address

If they decide to close the service or shutdown your website, then you will loose your web address. Most of the time it is a subdomain associated with the service. You cannot replicate that address or redirect users to your new site elsewhere.

10. They can sell your information

Remember that these services need to make money somehow to remain in the business. A good rule of thumb is if you are not paying for it, then you are the product.

These companies find other ways to make money such as selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to other companies. Their terms and conditions which no one really reads provide them total legal immunity.

11. No site building tools

Unlike a real web hosting service, these companies offer very limited tools and services to their users. Using these tools the website you will create will look even more unprofessional.

12. No WordPress

Many of these free services do not allow you to install WordPress on your free website. WordPress requires a little more resources than a free website service can afford.

13. Limited WordPress

Even if they allow you to host WordPress, their servers are simply not capable of running it. You will come across many errors, and it will ruin your WordPress experience.

14. Malware distribution

Free website services are notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits. In either case, it hurts your website’s reputation and SEO.

15. You may become part of a link farm

The reason why these services keep disappearing and then reappearing is because they try to generate money using unethical methods. Building link farms is one such practice where they sell thousands of pages created by their users to spammers, fake drugs and gambling sites, online scams, etc.

16. Limited bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred from server to user browser. It costs money and most free websites come with a very limited bandwidth caps.

17. Low disk storage

Free website companies host hundreds of websites sharing same server and hard disks. They usually give you very limited storage to store your data. When you reach that limit, you are often asked to pay for more storage.

18. Vulnerable to hacking attempts

Hacked websites

Due to poor security, free websites are often more vulnerable to hacking attempts. If your site is hacked, it will be a lot more difficult to get it recovered because these companies give you very limited access to your own files and data.

19. HTML only sites with limited number of pages

Some of these free website companies offer only a limited number of pages on your website. If you want to add more pages, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.

20. Low credibility among your users

When your site is hosted on a free service, your users will feel less inclined to trust it. If users are not comfortable sharing their information, then it will kill the whole purpose of you creating a website.

21. Limited design choices

Design and layouts

Unlike a self-hosted WordPress site where you can choose from thousands of WordPress themes, free websites offer only a handful of poorly designed templates. You cannot use your own designs or use any other design from the web.

22. No help or customer service

These free websites offer no help to users. You will have to setup your site on your own with the help of very limited and poorly presented documentation. You are pretty much on your own if you can’t figure it out.

23. You can’t run advertisements or make money

Even though your free website company runs their own ads on your website, they do not allow you to run ads or make money from your website. You will not be able to add affiliate links or add Adsense to your website.

24. There are no backups

There is no concept of regular backups on these free websites. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data.

25. Difficult to get rid off

The companies offering these services often make money from content created by users like you. They intentionally make it difficult for you to delete your own website. This means your website will remain on their servers, and you will have a hard time removing it.

26. No statistics or decent analytics

With a good hosting company, you can get free statistics about your site’s visitors. You can even install Google Analytics or any other traffic counters. On free websites, they do not allow you to add Google Analytics because they run their own analytics code on your website.

27. You will be targeted with email offers

Remember that these companies need to cover their costs by making money using alternative methods. They will continuously email you with special offers. Not to mention that they could sell your email address to other marketing companies as well.

28. No support for mobile devices

You cannot update your website from your mobile or hand-held devices. Free website companies mostly have their dashboards designed for desktop. This will make it harder to update your site from mobile.

29. No responsive designs

Most free website companies offer website designs that are very old and do not work on mobile phones. Mobile users make a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you will lose all those users.

30. No branded email

You cannot create email accounts with your own domain name. This means you will have to use your gmail or hotmail email account which does not look very professional.

31. No contact forms or email forwards

Every website on the internet needs a good contact form. These free website companies do not have a way for you to add custom contact forms. You also don’t get to forward emails received on their own poorly configured form scripts.

32. Limited file upload features

With paid hosting companies, you can upload unlimited files to your site using an FTP client or media uploader in WordPress. Free website companies only offer you a web based interface where you can upload one file at a time.

34. No way to setup redirects

With WordPress you can set up redirection in many different ways. This is a very useful way to maintain your site’s SEO scores. With free websites, you cannot setup any kind of redirects at all. Even if you move to a paid service later, you will not be able to redirect users from your free website.

35. Investing time on free website is unwise

If you have any serious intention of building something on the web, then you should never start with a free website. As you have read in this article, they are unreliable, unsafe, difficult, and severely limit your growth options.

36. Not even for practice

Free websites are terrible, even if you just want to practice.

Good Alternatives to a Free Website

The best alternative to a free website is of course a paid website. There are plenty of hosting services offering WordPress hosting at very low costs.

You can start with BlueHost, they offer shared website hosting service and are one of the official WordPress hosting services. For WPBeginner readers, they offer 50% additional discount and a free domain.

If you don’t want to pay at all and just want to learn, then you can practice on your own computer. You can easily install WordPress on your Windows computer using Wamp or Mamp for Mac.

We hope this article helped you learn why having a free website is a bad idea. Here are some great reasons explaining why you should use WordPress.

Also it would be helpful for you to read: Why is WordPress free, what are the costs, and what is the catch?

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Ali says:

    I try it free then if i really like it i will pay for it
    Bcuz Good job deserve lot of money it is nothing to discuss about

  2. Nessa says:

    So I started a blog on wordpress.com about 2 years ago. For the content I deal with, it’s been fairly successful. At the time, I didn’t realize the perks to having a a wordpress.org site vs wordpress.com and would like to switch over. I’m worried that doing so will cause all of my stats and posts to get deleted though; is that the case? Will I have to copy and paste all of my posts and lose all of my comments/followers?

  3. Eric Snissaert says:

    What about the free http://www.wordpress.com? I personally don’t use it. I own 2 paid WP websites which meet my needs fully. But I can imaging someone with a very low budget who want to build a website for a club or something like that could start off with wordpress.com. Or not?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Moving websites is painful, specially if you are not a developer. Users could spend months building a following and search traffic and all of this could get affected during a move to self hosted WordPress. It’s best to start with the most flexible platform right in the beginning so that you have plenty of room to grow.

  4. Bishal says:

    Free Websites are need to use for only practice & Expriment perpose only..

  5. Tejas Waghmode says:

    How to use marquee in WordPress???

  6. GLGale says:

    It shouldn’t surprise me that a site for WordPress beginners which is heavily geared towards promoting nothing but WordPress should be bashing free websites. There are probably plenty of bad free website companies out there but there are also some pretty damn good ones as well. I’ve designed professional sites using various software for over 15 years, from a basic text editor to Dreamweaver to WordPress and many others I’ve forgotten. They all have their own quirks and bugs and different learning curves.

    However, I’ve been running a number of free multi-page sites on Weebly for over 5 years now. I’ve had no problem with speed, upload limits, storage, visits, forms, customized pages or any of the numerous negatives you accuse free sites of. I’ve had almost 10x as much traffic on these sites as I’ve ever had on my Dreamweaver and WordPress sites and I’ve had no problem setting my own SEO. I have one site that duplicates an older Dreamweaver site that gets even more traffic and both sites are still active and have the same SEO.

    I don’t disagree with some of your points and they do offer fair warning to avoid free site builders with no history or track record, but I think you are unfairly tossing everyone but WordPress under the bus for no reason. In truth I’ve found WordPress to be far more unwieldy for handing over to clients who can’t handle the learning curve and then proceed to dismantle what was once a beautiful site. I’ve never had this problem with clients on a weebly site, they just work.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Thanks Gale. This article is for business owners who are about to start their site. Starting on a free hosting company or web page builder isn’t a good long term solution. That includes WordPress.com (free blog hosting) which we don’t recommend.

      We are recommending the self-hosted WordPress and we have always done so.

  7. Katharine says:

    I know I should move my wp.com site over to blue, but I have a friend who did this and actually got the half price. I cannot figure out how to do that and there was not link to that info on your post. Help!

  8. ZIS says:

    Good article! Thats why I built my own website on paid domain and hosing.

  9. Liz Bobeck says:

    Great article, whole-heartedly agree with you, although the low cost options are really only low cost options for the initial period of time. Bluehost is bad about this, give you a deal, then screw you later by jacking up the prices. Then they screw with your site and never tell you. I’d rather use Siteground.

  10. Dave Lum says:

    For a small “mom and pop” business, free WordPress.org websites are just fine. Our five pages had content uploaded from my computer, and would take about four hours to re-create. There is a free contact form, which works. There’s free Google Analytics to track activity. Yes, we do pay for a custom domain, but that’s peanuts. Free is great for some.

    Your article should have a subtitle: “and ten situations where a free website is great.”

  11. Md Nazmul Islam says:

    Thank you Syed Balkhi to find out and explain great things. So, what about the reusing themes?

  12. Jacob Christian Glover says:

    Excellent Article! I started out with my first WordPress website and hosting through ipage, nearly three years ago. It’s been a wonderful learning experience that I wouldn’t trade. I’ve always thought of the possible limits to having a “free website” and your article has more than confirmed some of my deepest concerns. Ten WordPress sites later and I don’t see any chance of slowing down in sight. It’s a great feeling to know that every site that I build is mine from A to Z! Thanks again, great information, be well Mr. Winney!

    • Jacob Christian Glover says:

      Correction! I credited the wrong person in my comments, this is a great piece that many individuals seeking the personal gratification of building a website should read. Great job to the Editorial Staff, and many apologies for crediting the wrong person, be well!

  13. Tim says:

    Good article. We actually get free hosting from Bluehost, due to our nonprofit status. Had to jump through a couple hoops with Guidestar.org and update our info there, but overall, well worth it! Might be worth looking at Jason. http://www.bentleyvilleusa.org

  14. Grant Winney says:

    Great article. Lots of valid points here.

    I use DigitalOcean with pretty low hardware specs to run a WordPress blog, and it’s been good. They’re getting paid, so they can actually offer help when people need it. If I need more bandwidth or memory or whatever, I can just up it… I’m not stuck with some bottom-of-the-barrel “free” service with a bunch of artificial limits.

    The worst would be gaining some traction, attracting some traffic, having some conversations with people.. and then having the rug pulled out from under you, and the company disappears and takes your catspajamas.freewebhostproviders.com url with them. And now no one can find you.

    Totally worth paying 5-10 bucks a month to save the headache. There’s more than one kind of “free”, and free providers are anything but.

  15. Jeff Mills says:

    Great article. I especially like the line in #10 “if you are not paying for it, then you are the product”.

  16. Jason says:

    Really, really great article. I’ve encouraged people to switch from these free hosting companies for quite a while. The only one I recommended to start was WordPress.COM. However, it doesn’t pay to stay there–you’ll eventually need to move to self-hosted on Bluehost or someone similar.

    The other thing I learned in the past couple years–don’t use website companies. They usually are not built on the WordPress system and they control the site look/feel have their own tools that are proprietary to their organization.

    I recently moved our church from a hosting site like mentioned above to WordPress.ORG. It was like pulling teeth to get our domain transfered to Bluehost. They ended up selling our domain to another registrar–whom I didn’t know. It was rough.

    I’m very happy with WordPress for our church – if you want to check it out. I’ve been on WordPress for a while – you can check it out below.

    I’ll be sharing this article on my social networks. Thanks Syed for sharing this information.

    Blessings,

    Jason

  17. Jan McClintock says:

    Very nice roundup, thank you! I have a similar post from a while ago but this adds quite a few more reasons. Love this blog.

  18. Amobi chuks says:

    That really feel so bad. I’m running a wordpress site that always give me series of nightmares from memory limit to page not found. Currently using their shared hosting. Virtual hosting is really too high for students.

  19. Angelica Costa says:

    I was expecting something about a website that gives a away free stuff, but it its about a free hosted websited. My bad.
    Nice article, indeed there is no reason today to to use free hosting. There are really cheap and good services out there.

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