Many UK businesses are inadvertently driving their customers to competitors by using free web hosting to set up their online presence.
Research conducted by Fasthosts Internet Ltd. has found that many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are unaware of the hidden costs of free hosting which can have a substantial impact on their future growth and success.
By using free hosting providers, SMEs are opening themselves up to a number of potential problems the research found. To start, businesses will usually have to append their name onto the end of the 'free hosts' domain name, (e.g. www. freewebhostdomainname.com/user/yourbusiness/ .html) - making it difficult to remember.
Businesses that lack their own domain name are often regarded as disreputable or even ‘illegitimate’, and tend to be avoided by web-savvy customers. This distrust is accentuated by a lack of website security features, pop-up adverts (placed by the free hosting providers) and the absence of designated company email addresses.
Fasthosts' 'How Free Is Hosting?' research analysed 100 'free hosting providers' and found that, on average, the space offered is 338 MB, and that bandwidth allowances are often heavily restricted. These limits are quickly reached should the SMEs website be a success.