Build a free web site

Everybody loves it when it is free. Free webmail, sign up free for this, for that and of course you can build a free web site. So is free web site hosting really cut out to be what it is? Well, yes and no. Nothing is absolutely free. You still need to give up something. It may not be monetary, it may not seem valuable to you or it could be a small price to pay on your part, too small and negligible that it can be considered free to you but could be invaluable on a long-term basis to the website, companies or individuals offering it free to you.


Don’t get me wrong. I like free stuff online too. There are so many free things available from open source software to handy utilities and programs to make your computing world more useful and productive. And yes, there is actually free web hosting for those who want to build a free web site.

If your needs isn’t much, not looking for monetary gain, nor for some online brand presence or even to bolster your online ego; free is good. Building a free web site is also good for learning how to make your own web site before finally taking the plunge on a proper web hosting provider.

Here are some sites where you can host and build your web site for free.

Google Blogger – well not exactly a real web site, despite being a blogging service, you could with some tweaking and hacking make it into a hierarchal web site. Of course your entry homepage will still list your post chronologically. I have come across some blogspot sites where it consisted of several posts making it into sort of like static pages. Not very good for company profile, but for those who has low or limited budget or just plain no idea where to go to make your own free web site then this Google Blogger service could be used. Better just use this for plain old blogging than for static hierarchal type web site. Go to Google Sites which is more suited for making a proper web site. Yes, you can use your own domain name for this service and of course you can totally modify the template to suit your needs.

Google Sites (sites.google.com) – Simple to use, good for making simple free web sites. You are given about 100MB of storage, usually more than enough for purely content based web sites or simple web site to show case your company profile create simple content web site. However, you are stuck with the templates that they provide and the footer cannot be changed or modified. And yes, you can use your own domain name for this free web site service but you will end up with duplicate content since the google URL cannot be disabled.

Geocities by Yahoo (geocities.yahoo.com) – Geocities has been around for a long time. It was also where I build my first free web site. This service has since changed over the years and after having been bought over by Yahoo there were some improvements and also some limitations introduced to it. Being free, Yahoo has arbitrarily placed adverts on the right side which cannot be removed. The storage is only 15MB and they do throttle the bandwidth. If your free web site has exceeded the traffic bandwidth quota it will be taken down for an hour. Kinda irritating but that’s the price to pay if you build a free web site like this. If you like Geocities, you could of course upgrade by subscribing to their service. This would remove the adverts and provide unlimited bandwidth transfers and unlimited storage quotas plus your very own domain name. (This service is no longer available as Yahoo has discontinued it.)

Webs.com – formerly Freewebs.com, found by the brothers Mokhtarzada, they figured that with so many free emails/webmails offering, eventually it will come to free web hosting services too. So they started out doing just that, and since 2001 their popularity has been increasing over the years. Webs.com provides a free web site builder system so you can build a free web site without knowing much about HTML/CSS. To support the free web site offering, your web site will be ad supported. To remove those ads, you will have to apply for paid web hosting.

Yola.com – Formerly SynthaSite, Another start up offering free web site hosting. Being new, (well they just start in 2006) to entice sign ups, they are giving unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth. To cover their cost, they offer domain purchase and web development and web designing for a fee. Only time can tell if they can make it. If they do, they become like a mixture of Webs.com and Bravenet.com. Yola also provides a free web site builder system so you don’t need to know much about HTML/CSS to build a free web site.

Bravenet.com – Located in Canada, the founder Dave set this company up in 1997, yep, this guys been around for a long time. You can build your free web site, however it will be ad supported with limited bandwidth transfers, limited storage, no SQL database, 1 FTP account and limited file types which you can host. You can also get your own domain and use their free web hosting. The free hosting offered is good for initial evaluation of their service and of course, if you don’t want to pay, you can just remain with their plain free web hosting plan, ad supported of course. You can of course host up to 5 domains using their free hosting plan, but if you upgrade, you can host up to 10 domains. They survive by offering premium web hosting and domain name purchases. They have a complement of web tools not available from other free web site builders like forums, chats, sitepals, blog journals, online calendars, online photo albums, and many web tools. Though many of the tools are offered free, upgrading to premium status will remove ads in the application.

Build free web sites, all of it!

Since they are free, so let’s try them all! Here’s my list of web sites using the above free web hosting services. Because some of them uses free web site builder, I couldn’t upload my own template. Of course I could try to modify their template to match with my overall web site layout as much as possible, but it would take a lot of time so using their free web site template will have to do.

  • Yahoo Geocities – my first free web site, so don’t expect much from it! (Well you can’t see anything now, since they have given up this free web hosting! But somebody archived it at Oocities, hmmm…)
  • Google Blogger (go.janleow.com) – I’m using this now with my own sub domain. Great, eh?
  • Google Sites (info.janleow.com)
  • Yola (yola.janleow.com)
  • Webs (janleow.webs.com)
  • Bravenet (janleow.bravehost.com) and using CNAME to map sub domain (net.janleow.com)

There are many more available free web hosting providers out there which you can use to build a free web site. However when looking for freebies like this, there is always a caveat: Will the company last, will they change their terms of usage midway or would they pass away like the wind? Thereby losing all your hard work and effort to build and promote your web site. Sobering thought, no?

Sometimes a new build a free website service start-ups will try to entice new sign ups, they will offer unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth in the hope that eventually some of them will upgrade to premium service or take up some of their other services. If the web site that you build for free is not critical by all means sign up, sign them all up. If you still need to build a free web site and looking for some stability in the web hosting company, Google, Yahoo’s Geocities and Bravenet seem to fit the bill.

For the rest of us who can afford and willing to pay for a real web hosting solution then it is time to look for a good, reliable hosting service, and use a full featured web hosting solution company.

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