The thought of getting a 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 all the reasons why having a free website is a bad idea and something that you should AVOID at all costs.
What Do We Mean by a 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.
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 for 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 are 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 a bad user experience and are bad for SEO (search engine optimization).
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 name, you usually have to pay a premium – something like $19 – $25 for a domain that usually costs $14.99.
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 sign up for a premium plan. 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, eCommerce stores, 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 or integrations 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 that 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 shut down your website at any time without providing you with a reason.
If they shut down a website, they usually don’t give your data or provide you a way to save your content.
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 shut down their servers, and you would lose 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 shut down your website, then you will lose 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, phone number, personal information, and 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 real web hosting services that offer easy drag-and-drop website builders, these free companies offer very limited website building tools and functionality to their users.
With these limited 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.
This means that you can’t install helpful WordPress SEO tools, social media plugins, eCommerce plugins, and other WordPress marketing tools to grow your business website.
WordPress requires a little more resources than a free website builder 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 web 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 the server to the user browser.
It costs money and most free websites come with very limited bandwidth caps.
17. Low Disk Storage
Free website companies host hundreds of websites sharing the 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
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
Unlike a self-hosted WordPress site where you can choose from thousands of WordPress themes, free websites offer only a handful of poorly designed website templates or layouts.
You cannot use your own website designs or any other design from the web.
22. No Help or Customer Support
These free websites offer no help to users.
You will have to set up 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 its own ads on your website, they do not allow you to run ads. You will not be able to add affiliate links or add Google AdSense to your website.
Many free website services also won’t allow you to start an online store, create a paid membership site, or use other popular monetization strategies.
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 built-in 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 send you email campaigns 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 web designs that are very old and do not work on mobile phones.
Mobile users make up a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you will lose all those users, and it will be difficult to grow your online presence.
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 for email marketing.
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 set up 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 site.
35. Investing Time on Free Website is Unwise
If you have any serious intention of building a small business 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 want to practice only.
Good Alternatives to a Free Website
The best alternative to a free website is, of course, a paid professional website. There are plenty of hosting services offering WordPress hosting at meager costs.
You can start with Bluehost. They offer shared website hosting services and are one of the official WordPress hosting services.
For WPBeginner readers, they offer a 60% additional discount, a free domain name, a free SSL certificate, and more. Basically, you can get started for just $2.75 per month.
You can follow our step-by-step guide on how to make a website (the right way).
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. You may also want to read our guide explaining why you should use WordPress, or check out this article on why is WordPress free, what are the costs, and what is the catch?