The Best Free Web Hosting

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Free web hosting only makes sense for a pretty narrow scope of customers: those who have small websites without much content and very little traffic, and those who have temporary websites, like for an upcoming event. If that’s you:

Try a free website builder that hosts custom domains:

Or, check out our recommendations for no-cost hosts:

For pretty much everything else — especially a small business or an online presence you’re looking to grow, we recommend paying for hosting to get increased functionality, more reliability, and better customer support. You won’t be spending all that much. Some of the best web hosting services start for as little as $4/month.

Editor’s note: Educators and nonprofits often qualify for free (or deeply discounted) hosting by some truly excellent providers. Jump here to read more.

Our recommendation: Use a free website builder with free hosting and custom domain names.

Hands-down the easiest way for most people to get a website up and running is a website builder, where you can drag-and-drop content blocks and tinker around with customizable templates. Most website builders are only free if you use a subdomain (for example, our URL on a Wix subdomain would look like: quicksprout.wix.com), which is a dealbreaker for anyone who wants to run a professional-looking site. We talk more about free hosting using a subdomain here.

However, there are two builders that host websites for free and connect to a custom domain. They are super simple and have limited functionality — but since super simple, limited websites are the only ones we recommend to hosting for free, it makes a lot of sense to start there.

There are exactly two options that fit this criteria: Ucraft or Google Sites.

Ucraft Review

Ucraft has a free plan for a single-page website that’s built with what it calls “elements.” An element is any individual piece of content: a title, a text block, a video, an image, an image gallery, a button. Ucraft’s free tier supports up to 50 basic elements, so that single-page website can hold a decent amount of content — just nothing too snazzy.

  • Drag-and-drop builder, plus customizable templates (although you can’t update fonts)
  • Single page
  • Supports custom domain
  • Ucraft ad floats in bottom-right corner
  • Upgrade for unlimited pages, more customization, and no ads for $6/month
  • Ecommerce functionality starts at $14/month

Some of the customizable templates available from Ucraft website builder.
Six of Ucraft’s 21 free templates, including a blank page for a completely customized site.

Ucraft's floating footer ad
A “Powered by UCRAFT” ad hovers in the bottom right corner of all free Ucraft websites.

Google Sites Review

Google Sites is your other option for a super simple free site. And when we say “super simple,” we mean it. There are only six versions of the same template to choose from, and a limited number of layouts to work in. It’s super basic. In fact, lots of Google Sites are used for basic things like internal wikis.

The six themes available on Google Sites

Google Sites offers one basic template in six simple themes.

That said, Google Sites hosts as many pages as you want at no cost. It connects to your custom domain. It integrates with every other Google service, like Docs, Forms, and Slides. And it’s absurdly simple to use, especially if you’re used to working in Google products. If you already have a Google account, or are paying for GSuite for email hosting (which we wholeheartedly recommend), it’s a no-brainer.

  • Drag-and-drop builder, plus limited customizable themes
  • Unlimited storage
  • Supports custom domain
  • Google Sites ad in footer
  • Integrates with GMail
  • There are no upgrade options — this is everything

Want more design freedom? You’ll need web hosting.

Design limitations are probably the biggest downside to using a free website builder. If the templates available on Ucraft and Google Sites aren’t what you’ve envisioned for your site, the next easiest free option is to find a free template you like and pair it with a free web host.

That said, there are plenty of downsides to free web hosting. To make our recommendations, we took the following six criteria into consideration.

  1. Ads: Some free web hosts stay afloat by selling ad space. We wanted to avoid those providers — no one wants random ads appearing in the middle of their content — and opted for hosts that support their free tier from sales of their paid hosting plans.
  2. Email hosting: Our recommendations offer at least one custom email address and free email hosting since that is one of the glaring things lacking from a free website builder. (Ucraft doesn’t offer email hosting at all and Google Sites only offers a custom email address if you pay $5/month for GSuite.) An email that’s attached to your website and domain name is great to have for one-off correspondences (plus looks pro on a business card), and a free web host provider’s email hosting is perfect for that.But be warned, your legit emails may be flagged as spam. Why? Free hosting is a hotbed for less-than-savory online activity, and your site might get lumped into a server of bad actors. In other words: spam filter activated. If you’re going to use your email a lot or for anything important — say for sending out a newsletter or for marketing promotions — we recommend upgrading to email hosting through a service like GSuite or even a domain registrar like Namecheap, which sells email hosting starting at $10/year.
  3. Storage and bandwidth: Free web hosting has famously low limits for both disk space and bandwidth. If you go over your limit, your site may get suspended or you may be automatically upgraded to a paid service. Even when providers like Byethost offer unlimited bandwidth and storage, it’s not infinite. Just like with a paid service, unlimited storage and bandwidth only last until you start negatively impacting the other sites on your server — and all hosts are extremely vague about how much traffic or storage is too much traffic or storage. Have a negative impact and your site may still be suspended or auto-upgraded.
  4. PHP and MySQL: PHP is one of the most popular programming languages. It’s what apps like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal run on, and therefore what a lot of websites use. MySQL are databases those apps store information on. Your web host needs to support up-to-date versions of both. The problem: Most hosts don’t disclose the exact version of the PHP or MySQL they run. And even if these apps do work, there is a high likelihood that with any free host they are going to load slowly — a PHP application requires a lot more lift from what is probably an extremely burdened server. If you’re worried at all about page load time (and you should be — Google takes it into account), we recommend limiting anything you build on a free host to a simple static HTML/CSS site.

     Recommended PHP Lowest supported PHPRecommended MySQLLowest supported MySQL
    WordPress7.2+5.2.4+5.6+5.0+
    Joomla5.6 or 7.0+5.3.10+
    5.5.3+5.1+
    Drupal7.2+5.5.9+5.5.35.5.3

    Another thing to keep in mind is database limitations. Every piece of software you want to use on your site requires a database to store its information. If you are running WordPress, it needs a database. If you’re running another app, it’s going to need its own database. Most free hosts impose a limit on the number of databases your site can access, and the amount of storage available in that database.

  5. SSL certificate: Secure Sockets Layer encryption is what confirms a website is secure enough to receive sensitive data like credit card data and passwords. SSL certificates are the only way a site can do any sort of ecommerce at all, but Google also considers it a factor for where any site, ecomm or not, shows up in search rankings. Most free web hosts don’t offer a free SSL certificate; the ones that do tend to offer a “self-signed” SSL. Self-signed SSLs are issued by servers, not by a certificate authority (Comodo, Digicert, Let’s Encrypt, etc). They offer the same level of encryption, but it’s not the standard version, so web browsers will still flag your site and issue a security warning to visitors.
  6. An unsecure connection warning from Mozilla

  7. Customer support: With any free host customer support is going to be limited, slow to respond, and not all that helpful. That’s just the way it is.

A note on custom domain names and domain privacy: You can host a site with a custom domain for free, but you’re still going to have to purchase the domain name through a domain registrar. Lots of hosting providers have a domain registration arm of their business, but you can also purchase a domain anywhere and connect it to your free web host. No matter what, we recommend also springing for domain privacy, which keeps your personal information (including your phone number and physical address) from being listed on the WHOIS public database. Opt-out, you’ll be spammed like crazy — at least for now. (Since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in May 2018, domain registrars are “refraining from publishing this information” to avoid liability. Others are retracting information to avoid accusations of selling information to spammers.)

Our picks: the 5 best free web hosts

Awardspace is a big player in the free hosting space and has been around for more than a decade. It stands out for offering a full gig of storage, more than many others, and, according to a friendly sales rep we chatted with, up-to-date versions of PHP and MySQL. It also offers the Zacky drag-and-drop website builder, plus an easy-to-use WordPress and Joomla installer. Note: If your site receives no traffic for 12 months, it will automatically be set to inactive; after two more weeks of notices, it will be deleted.

  • Number of sites: 1
  • Storage: 1GB
  • Bandwidth: 5GB
  • PHP version: 7.2
  • MySQL version: 5.7
  • Database storage: 30MB
  • Number of email accounts: 1
  • Customer support: Limited ticketing, live chat, online documentation
  • No ads: Yes
  • SSL: No
  • Domain registration: Yes

Atspace has nearly identical stats to Awardspace, with the exception of unlimited bandwidth (as opposed to Awardspace’s 5GB) and a claim of 24/7/365 support. (Digging deeper, though, Atspace lists that support as “limited 24/7/365 support” so take that with a big fat grain of salt.) Atspace also uses the Zacky website builder and app installer for apps like WordPress and Joomla.

  • Number of sites: 1
  • Storage: 1GB
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • PHP version: 7.2
  • MySQL version: 5.7
  • Database storage: 30MB
  • Number of email accounts: 1
  • Customer support: Limited 24/7/365 support, live chat, limited ticketing, online documentation
  • No ads: Yes
  • SSL: No
  • Domain registration: Yes

Freehostia offers free cloud hosting on its Chocolate plan (your guess is as good as ours). That means it should be fast, but the Chocolate plan is also very small: only 250MB of disk space and 10MB of database storage. That said, it does include a free self-signed SSL certificate, a site builder with free templates, and the promise of a response to help tickets in under one hour — pretty much unheard of. If you have a small enough site, the customer service promise alone makes Freehostia a compelling pick.

  • Number of sites: 5
  • Storage: 250MB
  • Bandwidth: 6MB
  • PHP version: 4 / 5 / 7
  • MySQL version: 5
  • Database storage: 10MB
  • Number of email accounts: 3
  • Customer support: 24/7 support with 1-hour ticket response and online documentation
  • No ads: Yes
  • SSL: Yes (self-signed)
  • Domain registration: Yes

Agilityhoster’s free tier is slightly smaller than what’s offered from Awardspace and Atspace: only 1000MB of storage and one 20MB MySQL database. It also lacks any sort of website builder, although it does have a simple WordPress and Joomla installer to get you up and running quickly. A sales rep confirmed that it runs up-to-date PHP and MySQL.

  • Number of sites: 1
  • Storage: 1000MB
  • Bandwidth: 5GB
  • PHP version: 7.2
  • MySQL version: 5.7
  • Database storage: 20MB
  • Number of email accounts: 1
  • Customer support: Limited ticketing, live chat, online documentation (24/7 support for system malfunctions only)
  • No ads: Yes
  • SSL: No
  • Domain registration: Yes

Byethost is by far the most generous free web host with unlimited sites, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and five email accounts. It also provides an automatic SSL on all domains, and includes a free site builder with templates. That said, Byethost is one of the least professional-looking hosts we looked at, with a poorly written website and enough vagueness that we wonder how unlimited its unlimited offerings actually are. Unless you think you need a lot of database space, we recommend going with a different free host.

  • Number of sites: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • PHP version: 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0
  • MySQL version: —
  • Database storage: Unlimited
  • Number of email accounts: 5
  • Customer support: 24/7 support and knowledge base
  • No ads: Yes
  • SSL: Yes (self-signed)
  • Domain registration: Yes

Selling anything? There’s 1 website builder with free ecommerce, or 2 great free online stores we recommend.

Selling products through a website that’s hosted for free isn’t easy. Most don’t support the functionality, and when they do, the experience is pretty limited. We were excited to find Strikingly, a website builder that also offers built-in ecommerce on its free plan. The catch? You’ll be limited to selling one single product.

Free online stores are a little easier to come by. (The difference? Online stores are just the stores, without the bells and whistles of a full-fledged website. That means no blog, no additional content — just products.)

The 2 free online stores we recommend: Square and Ecwid.

Square is a powerhouse business that was originally best known for its point-of-sell credit card swipers found at every farmers market and craft fair. We like its free online store that hosts unlimited products and has decent functionality.

  • Drag-and-drop editor, plus four customizable themes
  • Supports custom domain name
  • Transaction fee: 2.9% + $0.30

Square's free online store templates
Square offers four customizable templates for its free online stores.

Ecwid is a really interesting option. While it offers a free online store like Square (Ecwid calls it a “Starter Site’), Ecwid also offers a free online store widget, with code you can insert into pretty much any platform your site is on, from Wix to WordPress to Tumblr, just like you’d insert a YouTube video. That widget also means you sell simultaneously on multiple sites.

  • 10 product limit
  • Start Site supports custom domain name
  • Transaction fee: Depends on payment provider (Ecwid supports 40 gateways)

Image showing how you can embed an free Ecwid online store to any site.
You can add an Ecwid online store for free to any website.

Free Web Hosting Alternatives

If you’re okay with a subdomain (as opposed to a custom domain) your options for excellent free hosting increase.

That’s because lots of great website builders offer freemium versions of their platforms when you use a subdomain — for example, our URL would be quicksprout.wordpress.com or quicksprout.wix.com.

Obviously, a subdomain lacks the professionalism of a custom domain, and free versions of any website builder product or platform tend to be pretty stripped down. But if you’re interested in launching content quickly, subdomains offer a really low barrier of entry. Most can launch in just a few minutes. Even better, if you envision a more robust web presence in the future, starting for free on the platform you ultimately want to use means you’ll have everything already built. You’ll just need to upgrade.

Our 3 favorite free website builders, if you’re sticking with a subdomain: Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.

At the free level, these 3 are pretty comparable. They’ve all got an assortment of free templates or themes, an easy-to-use editor, limited storage, and ads for their service floating near the footer or in a bottom corner of the site. If you may eventually upgrade to a paid plan, check out our forthcoming review of website builders (to be published later this month!). We’ll go into a lot more detail than we do here.

Weebly

  • Drag-and-drop builder, plus templates
  • 500MB storage
  • Weebly.com subdomain (yoursite.weebly.com)
  • Displays Weebly ads
  • Upgrade for custom domain, no ads, and ecommerce functionality: starts at $8/month

Wix

  • Drag-and-drop builder, plus templates
  • 500MB storage
  • 500MB bandwidth
  • Wix subdomain (username.wixsite.com/siteaddress)
  • Displays Wix ads
  • Upgrade for custom domain, no ads, and ecommerce functionality: starts at $11/month

WordPress

  • Choose from free themes
  • 3GB storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • WordPress.com subdomain (yoursite.wordpress.com)
  • Displays WordPress ads
  • Upgrade for custom domain and no ads: starts at $4/month

Free web hosting for nonprofits and educators

There are excellent — and extremely robust — free hosting options available for nonprofits and educators. These typically aren’t stripped-down versions, but full-blown shared hosting plans that are available for free, including custom domains, full technical functionality, and attentive customer support.

For nonprofits, we recommend Dreamhost’s free Unlimited shared hosting plan.

Dreamhost is a really big name in web hosting. It’s one of our top picks for best web hosts for small businesses and is one of three recommended hosts by WordPress itself. Dreamhost offers one free Unlimited shared hosting plan (which includes email hosting) for 501(c)(3) organizations, plus a 35% discount on its suped-up DreamPress managed WordPress hosting. Both are killer deals. Most of the other free web hosts for nonprofits don’t have nearly as strong of reputations, nor offer as robust free plans. This plan has unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, and you can host an unlimited number of sites.

5 other free web hosts for nonprofits to consider

  1. A Small Orange: Free month-to-month “Small Shared Plan” for business that pass A Small Orange’s “criteria.” You’ll get 50GB bandwidth, 5GB storage, and can host an unlimited number of sites.
  2. InterServer.net: Free “Standard” web hosting for 501(c)(3) organizations, which includes unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, and unlimited sites.
  3. Kualo: Free “Startup” shared hosting plan (plus free LiteSpeed caching add-on) for US-based charities that meet Kualo’s criteria. The plan comes with unlimited bandwidth, 30GB storage, and unlimited websites.
  4. MightWeb: Free “Starter” shared hosting package to nonprofits in the US. This plan has unlimited bandwidth, but only 5GB storage and just 2 websites.
  5. Weberser Web Hosting: This free non-profit hosting plan only includes 100GB bandwidth, 5GB storage, and 1 website.

Free web hosting for educators

Some of our favorite web hosts provide free or deeply discounted services for teachers and university administrators.

SiteGround, our pick for best web host, has some of the most robust shared hosting technology available — and arguably the best reputation in an industry of hundreds. SiteGround offers all the features and functionality of its StartUp Plan (including 24/7 support on chat, phone and ticket) to teachers for free with a SiteGround subdomain. SiteGround also discounts its hosting for students.

  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • 10GB storage
  • SiteGround subdomain: yoursite.sgedu.sit
  • 1 website

InMotion Hosting, our pick for best web host for beginners and another standout in the world of shared hosting, gives its mid-tier Power plan to educators for free.

  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • 6 websites

Weebly has a eductor-focused arm of its website builder business. It works just like Weebly for any small business or personal website, but is geared for educators. The edu-version of Weebly gives the option of publishing content to a custom domain, not a Weebly subdomain. It also skips all Weebly advertising.

  • Drag-and-drop editor, plus templates
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited storage
  • Includes 40 student accounts

If you like the sound of Weebly and a website builder, check out WordPress’s version, Edublogs. Similarly, it offers an ad-free environment with class and student management functionality, edu-focused plugins, and an Edublog subdomain.

Recap: The Best Free Web Hosting

If you’re after free web hosting, you might really want the simplicity and ease of a free website builder. We’re impressed with both Ucraft and Google Sites which provide easy to use drag-and-drop templates and support custom domains. Yes, you’ll be limited in design and there will be some sort of “Powered by” ad in the footer on both. If those are deal-breakers, you probably do want web hosting.

Any free host will all have similar drawbacks: limited storage and bandwidth, potential for spam-flagging email, and limited customer support. Go with Awardspace for more storage (1GB), Atspace for 24/7/365 help, or Freehostia if your site is really small (under 250MB).

If you’re an educator or nonprofit, you have a lot more — and better — options. SiteGround and InMotion Hosting, two of our very favorite web hosts, have excellent free plans for educators. So does website builder Weebly. And Dreamhost, another of our favorite web hosts, doesn’t charge nonprofits for one free Unlimited shared hosting plan.