The Differences Between Free and Paid WordPress hosting

You may have come across some companies offering free WordPress hosting while searching for a WordPress web hosting provider. While everyone can appreciate a free service, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the best service for you to use. There is a whole world of differences between free and paid WordPress hosting. Let’s check out what the differences between free and paid WordPress hosting are and figure out which is the best for you!

Domain Names

A domain name is typically part of your brand. It’s the way people find your website online, and it’s usually easy to for visitors to remember. However, with free WordPress hosting, you may not be able to have your domain name. Typically, you must use a subdomain of the free WordPress hosting provider’s domain, which can be a lot more difficult for visitors to remember. It also makes it evident that you’re not paying for your hosting, which may take away from the professional nature of your website.

If you use a paid WordPress service, you will be able to use your domain name that is unique to your website. It helps your site to appear more professional, and it also helps it become easier for visitors to remember and find. There’s an additional benefit to using your domain name: SEO. With your domain name, you can work in a keyword or two that lets search engines know what your website is concerning. It will help increase your search engine ranking, so your site becomes even easier for visitors to find.

Another problem with using a subdomain of the free WordPress hosting provider is that you don’t own the rights to that domain. Your domain becomes the free WordPress hosting provider’s property, so if you want to change hosting in the future, you will have to choose a different domain. Or, if the free WordPress hosting provider goes out of business, you may be forced to change your domain name clear out of the blue. If other sites link to your website, all those links will break, efficiently ruining your SEO by diminishing your search engine ranking. Additionally, return visitors may be unable to visit your website after your domain changes because they can’t find it.

Technical Support

It can be challenging to run a website, and there may be quite some technical problems that may appear while you are running your site. If you are running a business online, the last thing you need is for your website to go down without you being able to get the matter quickly resolved.

While most free WordPress hosting providers will offer some form of technical support, there usually is a 24 to 48-hour wait on the response time. These free WordPress hosting providers will also limit you to email support only, sometimes through a third party. If you need your website online and especially if you lose sales every time your site goes down, this can present a massive problem for you.

Additionally, a free WordPress hosting provider’s third-party technical support may not have the in-house access and expertise to help resolve your issue. While WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms in the world, not every third-party technical support provider has the scope to cover WordPress specific issues. If there’s a problem with your web hosting itself, they also may not have the knowledge or tools to resolve the issue for you.

If you choose a paid WordPress hosting service, you will have WordPress specific, in-house technical support available to you 24/7. This support is also usually available through multiple platforms – phone, email, and chat. With this kind of support possible, you can be back online in no time even if you accidentally delete a file or install an incompatible plugin.

Uptime

Another essential requirement of running a business online is that your website always stays up. You want a WordPress hosting provider that will schedule maintenance and software upgrades when it is least likely to affect your site, as well as one that maintains its servers in such a way that they don’t break down. Many paid WordPress hosting providers give you a guarantee that they will have optimal uptime and will credit your account or issue a refund if they fail to meet their promises.

This kind of guarantee isn’t available with free WordPress hosting providers, however. Unlike paid WordPress hosting providers, free WordPress hosting providers have nothing to lose if their uptime is not optimal. Paid WordPress hosting providers know their customers have high expectations of their service and that they may bounce if the paid WordPress hosting provider fails to meet their expectations.

Bandwidth and Storage Space

Bandwidth means the amount of data that your website can send and receive over the internet during its monthly billing period. It is very much like cell phone data – a certain amount is allotted to you that you can use every month, and if you go over that amount, your website will go offline. Every time someone (including you) visits your site, some of your allotted bandwidth gets used.

In the beginning days of the internet, most paid web hosting providers would give their customers a certain amount of bandwidth to use every month. If you went over that limit, e.g., had a lot of visitors come to your website, your website would go down until the next monthly billing period started or you upgraded your plan. Apparently, the only solution to this was to either wait for your new billing period to begin or pay for a more expensive web hosting plan.

Many free WordPress hosting providers still follow this model and only allow you a small amount of bandwidth and storage space to use each month. You can very quickly go over your allotted amount if you have a lot of visitors or need to use a lot of disk space. It encourages you to upgrade to one of their paid WordPress hosting plans.

However, most paid WordPress hosting providers will give you unlimited bandwidth each month, and a considerable amount of disk space to use for plugins and files. It will be a while before you manage to use up all that is available to you, and fortunately, if you use more bandwidth than your paid WordPress hosting provider is willing to give you, they typically will send you an email requesting you upgrade instead of taking your website offline.

Vendor Lock-In

Now we are coming to the real reason why some web hosting providers offer free WordPress hosting: vendor lock-in. These vendors use their free WordPress hosting offers to lure customers in so that they will have to upgrade to a paid WordPress hosting plan.

While this is great if that vendor is a web hosting provider you want to pay for, in many cases you may find cheaper, better-paid offerings from web hosting providers that don’t offer free WordPress hosting. However, you may end up stuck with the web hosting provider you used for free WordPress hosting if you choose to start your website with them. The free WordPress hosting provider may make it very difficult for you to migrate your site to another web hosting provider or may even make it impossible for you to do so.

Extra Services

There are also a ton of extra services you may receive with paid WordPress hosting that you have not even considered. Some of these include multiple domain-based email accounts, the ability to host various websites and domains, a wide range of essential security features such as infection monitoring and intrusion detection, SSL certificates, advertising credits, and more.

If you want these kinds of features though, you’re going to have to pay for it – free WordPress hosting providers don’t typically offer these services with their free plans. In fact, they may make you pay extra for these features, which can turn out to be more expensive than using regular paid WordPress hosting.

Paid Hosting – It’s Cheaper Than You Think!

Dedicated paid WordPress hosting is a lot cheaper than you may think if you shop around. Paid WordPress hosting can be as little as $5 a month, and usually no more than $10 a month. With this pricing, you get access to a full range of WordPress specific services, such as website optimization, security tools and monitoring, 24/7 technical support that is knowledgeable in WordPress, guaranteed uptime, and a lot more.

While it’s important to “never look a gift horse in its mouth,” your WordPress hosting should not apply to this if you are running an online business or some other website that means a lot to you. While there indeed are free WordPress hosting solutions available, they are insufficient in what services and value they offer and often are merely schemes to get you to upgrade and pay for your hosting. Considering how cheap paid WordPress hosting can be, there is no reason to avoid paying for it, especially if you are running a critical business website.