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All Those Disappearing Free Web Hosts
By Christopher S L Heng
Every now and then, more frequently than you might imagine, I have to prune entries from my Free Web Hosting listing pages. These web hosts were providing free web hosting services at the time I included the links. However, after some time they either disappear completely or I find that they are suddenly selling commercial web hosting only.
If you don't want your website to suddenly disappear into thin air with these free web hosts, here are some tips:
1. Try to go for the web hosts that have been around longer. If they've been around longer, the chances are hopefully greater that they'll be around for the life of your site. Hosts like these include Geocities, Tripod and Hypermart. Note that this is not an endorsement of these hosts nor is it any guarantee that they will last.
2. Contrary to what you might think, you might want to consider hosting only on sites that actually put advertising on your site. Why? Think about it. To host your site, they have to pay for your site's connection to the Internet backbone, the initial capital outlay on the web server hardware and software as well as the costs of maintaining the server, the IP addresses of the sites, etc. If they're not earning from advertising, how are they financing all these? Are you sure people are willing to keep paying thousands of dollars to host you for free?
Of course it is possible that they're making income in some other way. For example, some hosts put you on their mailing list as a requirement for hosting with them. They may thus make advertising income in that way. It is also possible that they have other sources of income and the free web hosting is merely to draw potential customers (like you) to those other services. That's fine - as long as they have some means of making a profit from this service, directly or indirectly.
If there's absolutely no way that they're recovering income from your site, there's a chance that they're providing the free service as a gimmick prior to launching their commercial hosting services. The hope is presumably that when they "go commercial", the people who already host there would just pay the hosting fees for the convenience of continuing to host there.
Of course there may really be people who truly have a lot of money to burn and have a good heart, and are thus willing to incur costs to finance your web site without any hope of a financial return. Somehow I'm not too hopeful about that.
3. You might also want to go for the hosts that house more sites, for the simple reason that they're more likely to be able to make a profit from the advertising they put on your site, and thus survive longer.
Remember: always be prepared to relocate your site. Keep a copy of your website on your own computer, so that if the host disappears, you can easily move somewhere else without having to rewrite your pages from scratch.

Source: Copyright by Christopher S L Heng. All rights reserved.
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