Free Internet Services

The culture of the Internet has grown out of the idea of a free exchange of information. In keeping with that tradition there are a number of companies offering free Internet services for access and web site hosting. But as you know no business can afford to simply give products away. Or to put it another way, if you think you are getting a free lunch you just haven't gotten the bill yet.

So what's the catch with these free Internet services? Usually it involves advertising of some sort. Free access may mean you have to live with a permanent ad banner floating somewhere on your display any time you are connected. Free web sites may not only have forced advertising but may also impose limitations on content and have other restrictions.

For personal, home use these free services may be adequate, but they almost never are for business uses. You can be sure that companies offering free services are not going to want you using their free services to promote any type of competing product or service.

If your business needs are minimal and consist primarily of exchanging limited amounts of information with other people within your company and the kinds of information you want to post will not violate their hosting rules, then one of these free sites may suffice. Even so you should think about whether it will negatively impact your business image to use one of these free sites, and whether you can afford to be without the service.

Free services tend to come and go pretty quickly. So consider carefully whether the loss of your web hosting service and/or URL address could negatively impact your business.

You may be able to use free sites for promoting your business by using free sites as portals or doorways to your main web site, but there are probably better ways to use your time to promote your company's web site.

In summary, if you are thinking about using one of these free hosting services as your primary Internet presence, you should make your selection carefully. For most business needs free sites are not suitable because:

  • They may require you to display advertising banners that only they control.
  • They may require that you give up your copyrights to the content for anything that you put on your web site.
  • You may not be given the level of access you need or desire to the site.
  • You may have to accept unwanted e-mail or pop-up advertisements in exchange for the free site.
  • You have no assurance that the location or terms associated with your free site will remain the same.
  • Your server space is usually small and limited.
  • Speed of access for users of your site may be slow and inconsistent.
  • You often do not have any or limited say as to the URL address assigned to you.
  • Free hosting services are less likely to backup your data and you may loose part or all your site without any warning.
  • Many of the search engines will not list free web sites in their directories.

Inexpensive web hosting will almost always prove to be a superior source of service to free Internet hosting, and inexpensive dial-up Internet access will prove to be superior to free Internet access.

Should you decide to try a free Internet service consider it just an experiment to avoid disappointment.

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