The costs of setting up and maintaining a website can add up quickly, so picking the best free website hosting provider for your needs can help cut costs, and this list of the top-rated service providers out there will hopefully help you make the right choice.
Designing, developing and maintaining a website all need an outlay of one sort, so it's important to minimise expenditure where they can; which is one reason why website builders have grown in popularity over the past few years.
Web hosting is one area where costs can easily grow, as hosting packages are generally sold with monthly billing. There are a (dwindling) number of providers that offer free web hosting, however, and whilst such packages will not be suitable for most businesses, others have a great opportunity to try new things before scaling website projects.
Below is a selection of the best free web hosting available to everyone and since they are all free, nothing prevents you from trying all of them.
In the world of free website hosting, Infinityfree stands out for good reasons. It has a well designed website that makes a positive impression and ticks the right boxes for us. Its homepage gets a C performance grade in our load time test but other than that, it looks pretty solid.
It has been in the business for over six years, claims to have 200,000 users and offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth (albeit with a very generous 50,000 daily hits). You can host as many domains as you want but you will only get 10 e-email accounts and one FTP to upload your content.
There is no hidden fees and despite its free status, you will get a 99.9% uptime guarantee (although you are more or less on your own if your site goes down) and the popular Softaculous Script installer. (with more than 400 applications.
We were surprised to see that its features list include 400 MySQL databases (where others give only a handful, if at all), a free DNS service, free SSL and free Cloudflare CDN.
As expected Infinityfree offers a cheap paid for hosting (Infinityfree Ultimate Premium) that offers unlimited everything for $5.90 per month, worth an upgrade as you will also get access to CloudFlare Railgun, which cuts load times significantly.
Freehostia offers a number of different hosting tariffs with outlandish names like Lovebeat, Wildhoney and Supernatural. Its free plan, Chocolate, gives users 250MB disk space, 6GB bandwidth each month, PHP & MySQL compatibility and 3 POP3/IMAP email accounts. Server uptime is guaranteed at 99.9% and 24/7 user support is provided should any problems arise.
It even offers a surprisingly good 1-hour ticket/email response promise. Joomla, WordPress, phpBB and other PHP scripts can be installed with one-click using Freehostia's Elefante Installer and upgrading to any of the paid premium packages can also be done in one-click, should users outgrow the free plan.
As you would expect, 5GBfree provides 5GB of free hosting space to users along with 20GB of monthly bandwidth, 3 MySQL Databases and PHP scripting.
There's no email included in the package, but the company is proud of the technology it offers, claiming, “At any other hosting company, you could be paying between $15 and $20 a month for the same cutting edge software (including the revolutionary CloudLinux operating system!), hardware, and security certifications.”
Support is provided in forums via the 5GBfree community and users who require expert phone support can upgrade to the Pro version, which costs $2.95 per month and offers both unlimited disc space and bandwidth.
Of the free hosting providers convered in this article, Freehosting.com is the biggest hitter in terms of bandwidth since it's unlimited, and you just need to make sure you follow their Fair Use Policy. The service also includes 10GB of server space and one email account. For users without a domain name, free subdomains are also offered, such as freesubdomain.freehosting.com.
Paid package is also available, offering unlimited disk space and monthly transfer as well as unlimited email accounts. Freehosting is also one of the few to actively encourage using the hosting service to backup your important files (e.g one 10GB ZIP file), great as it doesn't have a limit for file sizes.
Byethost is part of Byet Internet, a US-based provider of hosting, domain name and reseller services. With more than one million websites hosted, It claims that its free hosting service is, “one of the most powerful networks dedicated solely to free hosting in the world.”
Users are given 1GB of server space (although, as of late, it looks like this has been changed to unlimited), 50GB of monthly bandwidth and MySQL / PHP compatibility. They also benefit from 24/7 tech support and access to Byethost's community and knowledge base. And if you are ever interested in becoming a free web hosting provider yourself, Byethost operates a separate entity, myownfreehost, that allows you to do just that.
For businesses that want free hosting with green credentials, Awardspace provides a solution. It offers CO2-neutral hosting with all of its servers running on wind-generated electricity. Its free plan provides 1GB of storage (a 15MB upload file size limit), 5GB of bandwidth per month and up to five MySQL databases. One associated email account is also included.
Users have access to online documentation and 24/7 support should any issues arise. Live chat is also available for pre-sales queries. Worth noting that the servers of Awardspace are located in Kiel, Germany, rather than in the US and house more than one million websites. There's a nifty test hosting speed service that allows you to check the transfer speed in a live environment.
FreeHostingEU is a joint project set up and run by FreeDomain.co.nr and AttractSoft GmbH. Yes, Germans are at the forefront of free web hosting in Europe. Three hosting tariffs are offered – two paid and one free.
The free package provides 200MB of space, 4GB of bandwidth per month and one associated email account. Five free domains at .eu5.net are also included but they are likely to be of little use for most UK businesses. Also, you get three free web site builders.
For users of WordPress and Joomla, one-click installation is provided and languages supported are PHP, MySQL, CGI, Perl, Flash. Worryingly though, the user forums have been closed until further notice.
For businesses that are looking for hosting that is quick and simple to setup, U Host Full promises the ability to setup a site within five minutes.It also provides a host on one-click installers for platforms including WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, Mambo, osCommerce and Zen Cart.
Uptime is guaranteed at 99% with unlimited server space provided and unlimited bandwidth per month. Email is also included. Now we don't know what the catch is but it is definitely one of the better deals out there especially since it doesn't have any adverts.
Note that there doesn't seem to be any limit to the size of the files uploaded which is a pleasant surprise.
All of the free hosting options included in this article are ad-free, with revenue generated by other means. Free Hosting No Ads celebrates this more than others, but still offers a solid free hosting deal with 1GB of disk space.
The deal also includes 5GB of monthly bandwidth and three POP email accounts. Three PHP versions are supported (5.2-5.4) and three MySQL databases are also included. As expected, the free service is subsidised by the paid-for service.
Just note this though… “FreeHostingNoAds.net reserves a right to send 1 promotional email message every 6 months that can promote our affiliate products.” You may however unsubscribe from the marketing marketing list.
Free Virtual Servers is another free web hosting platform with an impressively straight-talking name. Signing up to the free web hosting service will get you a decent amount of server space – 100MB – which should be enough unless you have a very image-heavy site, and most of the usual features we've come to expect from free web hosting services. Bandwidth is a bit on the tight side, however, with just 200MB, which is enough for small, simple websites, but if your site starts getting popular, you may have to think about upgrading.
Also worth looking at
You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated server
- Small business
- Email hosting
- Website builders
- Best website hosting