What is the Safest Free Website Hosting Service Available to the Public?

This is a good question. Unfortunately, there really is no “safest, free” web hosting service out there. However, I will discuss the good, bad, and the ugly of using a “free” web hosting service.

Please remember anytime you use a “free” online service, the service itself is not really free. Why? Well because they have your data. Today, data is like a product to sell. People can sell data they collect to people like advertisers and private companies who can make use of it (for good reasons…or bad reasons).

Unfortunately this data is usually personal information you provided through a “free” e-mail account, “free” instant messaging service, “free” video call (e.g., Skype), “free” web hosting account, “free” file storage (who puts their personal files [like photos] on a random, who-knows-who-really-owns-it server anyway?), “free” video hosting service (e.g., YouTube), etc.  You get the idea.

The companies that provide free web hosting services are very likely selling your data to other companies. In addition, this is why if you do anything personal on your “free” web hosting account, it really is not private.

The Good

  • No technical knowledge of hosting websites needed to get started
  • No worry about making backups (if using a good provider; I would still make my own backups to be on the safe side)
  • No worry about server maintenance (e.g., replacing failed hardware, restoring a server operating system because of a successful hacking attempt, managing server upgrades, etc.)

The Bad

  • No control over how much disk space you can have (since it is free, you cannot demand them to give you more disk space than they already provided you with)
  • No control over how much bandwidth you can have (since it is free, you cannot demand them to give you more bandwidth than they already provided you with)
  • No control over service outages (they probably will just silently fix the issues with little to no notifications about what happened)
  • They usually will not be very reliable, since they are not making much money (from web ads) if any money at all.
  • You probably will not know who really is running the free web hosting service. While that is not necessarily a problem, I personally would want to know who is hosting my web sites.

The Ugly

  • No control over your data (they have your website data you do not!)
  • Anyone at the company (or individual hosting free accounts) can snoop in your website data that you have uploaded to their servers.
  • Your “free” web hosting service with _all_ of your data could be deactivated and erased with no prior notice for _any_ reason they deem acceptable.
  • Your data may also be stored permanently in backups the free hosting service makes, which means when you delete data off their servers; it really is not deleted, since they can restore your deleted data from a backup!
  • They can up and “disappear” overnight, taking your websites with them (in other words, do not be hosting your business website on a “free” web hosting service!). Since they are “free”, they have no obligations to any of their users.

You may want to consider carefully reading the “Terms of Service” agreement for “free” web hosting providers to see how they deal with their users’ privacy.

Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers