I mean, I’m positive that free hosting must have advanced and improved quite a bit since my university days – when every computer networks professor kept advising against any sort of free servers and even had data to show the dangers of using such things (honeypot much?).
So, did things change?
In short, I am surprised – and happy to report – that all of the free hosts featured here haven’t been hitting me every day or even week with yet another upsell offer. In all honesty, you’ll get much more regular salesy communication from 90% of blogs offering you “a free e-book.”
Basically, what you get with these hosts are some standard welcome / setup emails. Albeit there were some mild affiliate offers in some of those initial emails, nothing drastic though – nothing you wouldn’t expect after signing up with a web host.
For example, one company promotes 2Checkout. The other convinces you to throw in $25 for 200MB of additional disk space + a custom domain for $14.95 / year. But that’s pretty much it when it comes to promotions.
After that, I got no upsell emails, nothing weird, and I didn’t notice my email getting mysteriously signed up for other, third-party newsletters either (I used an original email for the tests). Basically, I just got to enjoy my free WordPress hosting plans with no interruption.
So where is the money made here?
If I’m to guess, the main business model is probably to give you a good free hosting platform and then wait for you to outgrow it. At that point, you can easily upgrade your setup with a couple of clicks.
If that’s the scenario then those hosts naturally can’t be too salesy from day one, nor can they hit you with one promotion after the other. Basically, if a host wants to sell you on their pro offering then the free offering cannot suck. Nobody will pay money to get more suck.
Okay, let’s get into the whys and hows of free WordPress hosting:
But, why not just go WordPress.com or a cheap paid host?
So, yeah, when it comes to free WordPress hosting, the first thing that comes to mind is WordPress.com. After all, the .com’s servers are more than capable of handling any sort of traffic, the performance is good, and you get most of the features that the stand-alone version of WordPress has gotten you used to.
But with all of its awesomeness, there are also some trade-offs. Chief of them, you’re basically never in full control of your site and you cannot freely adjust its features nor the appearance. More on the differences here.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I really enjoy what .com is bringing to the table, but for the sake of this comparison, let’s just say that what we want is the full, unrestricted WordPress.
With that said, there’s also another solution that, albeit paid, is still incredibly affordable. For around $3 per month, you can get a fully functioning hosting setup with Bluehost, for instance.
For about the price of a cup of coffee per month, you’re not just getting more performance and reliability. You’re also getting a more usable dashboard.
See, part of what that money goes towards is cool add-ons, like a user-friendly interface that lets you:
- Manage updates, including an option to turn on automatic updates
- Control basic WordPress settings
- Manage plugins and themes
And Bluehost will also help you implement caching (speeds up your site) and create staging sites (think of these like a safe sandbox to test changes to your site).
I guess what we’re saying is that paying for WordPress hosting might actually save you money when you consider the time that you spend managing your site (remember – time is money!).
And again, please keep in mind that if you want to roll out your project to the public, most of the time you also need a standalone domain name for the thing, and that is obviously a paid-for extra, hence somewhat defeating the purpose of free hosting.
Anyway, back on topic:
The free WordPress hosting contenders
I’ve been looking long and hard to find some (seemingly) good quality hosts that would also offer free plans.
First things first, you won’t find a free plan with companies that are mainstays of the WordPress hosting industry. No SiteGround, no InMotion, no WP Engine, etc. Basically, none of the companies that come to mind when thinking about WordPress hosting offer a free tier.
So we need to dig deeper.
(And, sorry, I’m sure that all of the free WordPress hosts featured here are awesome companies and that it’s only my ignorance that I wasn’t aware of them earlier. I didn’t mean to make it seem like anyone featured here is sub-par.)
With that being said, the four companies I’ve ended up selecting for the experiment have been featured by other reviewers before me, and these brands have also kept popping up at least a couple of times here and there. In other words, they’re not random at all.
Note. One of the most popular companies in this realm used to be WPNode.net. However, even though the website still appears as if it offers free hosting, it actually redirects you to another platform where the only thing you can get is a free trial. Hence, I couldn’t include them on the list.
First, let’s have a look at what you get with each of these free WordPress hosts and how their offers compare:
Free WordPress hosting offers comparison
Here are the basic details: