Is There Free Web Hosting for WordPress?

Free web hosting for WordPress—it’s an appealing idea, regardless if you want a site for personal expression, a business, or something else. Who wouldn’t want free WordPress hosting? WordPress hosting is one of the most expensive things about having a WordPress site, and getting hosting for less is an understandable and admirable plan to save money.

But, as a person who has been around that block a few times, I don’t know of any great solutions for the goal of paying nothing for WordPress hosting. While there are some good free and low-cost options for web hosting we’ll cover in this article, we’ll also be sure to explore their limitations and alternatives (because you really do want to know about them).

What is WordPress Hosting? Who Offers It?

For the uninitiated the idea that you need WordPress hosting may not make much sense. After all, that’s what WordPress does, right? It makes you a website…? Right?

Not quite. WordPress is the software application that you run on a web server to make it easier for you to build the website of your dreams. But the key phrase is that WordPress runs on a web server. So you do need a web server to have a WordPress website online.

The intricacies of how hosting servers work is beyond the scope of this article. But the short version is that “hosting” is the thing that you need to get to have a web-accessible WordPress site.

Limitations of “Free, Unlimited” WordPress Hosting To Expect

In general, when buying web hosting, you’ll pay more to get better speed, reliability, and support. There is some WordPress hosting that is simply a better or worse value, but in general, I find that you get roughly what you pay for.

As such, I think that anyone setting out to get low-cost or free WordPress web hosting should expert worse performance, worse support, or worse reliability than they’d get by paying.

Suffering through a worse version of one or all of those qualities may well be the right trade-off for you to make. But don’t pretend that you’re not making a trade-off.

Who Offers Free WordPress Hosting?

You’re aware of the downsides, but you’re still curious to know where to host WordPress for free. Truthfully, the number of “free WordPress hosts” that my research turned up was not big, but it still ended up too big for me. But there are a few notable examples that I want to highlight for you—here are four options for free WordPress web hosting.

1. WordPress.com Offer Free, Limited WordPress

To the confusion of many, WordPress.com is a business that offers hosting of the free (open-source) WordPress CMS platform. (What I’ve meant by saying “WordPress” so far in this article. 🤓)

They also offer completely free WordPress domain hosting of those sites, with a notable precondition or two. The two major preconditions to getting free WordPress hosting from the folks at WordPress.com are:

  • Free WordPress.com accounts must have “WordPress.com” in their URL. So rather than having “mysite.com”, you’ll have “mysite.wordpress.com.” Especially if you’re just starting out, this isn’t really a big deal. And the cost to change it later is relatively modest.
  • The other big thing to realize is that the WordPress.com free tier does not allow you to run plugging out custom themes. If you’re new to WordPress this can actually be a helpful and good thing—less complexity to manage—but it’s a very important limitation for most people.

If you don’t mind these two limits of WordPress.com, I think it’s a great way to host WordPress for free.

2. 000webhost.com Allows You to Actually Host WordPress for FREE

But what if you want free WordPress hosting with a custom domain? I was pleasantly surprised by 000webhost.com’s free WordPress hosting offer. It seems to be legitimate WordPress hosting at no cost. The catch? You’ll be prompted to upgrade. A lot.

So, if you’re keen to find free WordPress hosting with no ads, this isn’t a good option for you.

Like WordPress.com, part of how your paying for this free hosting is that they’ll offer you up-sells (lots more than WordPress.com, in my limited experience). They also make your URL a little advertisement for them. My free test site is online at https://app-1540245129.000webhostapp.com/. It’s got plugins running there, though, which makes it at least a little bit of an upgrade from WordPress.com.

There are, as you should expect, a few other significant limitations:

  • Only 1GB of disk space (no movies, few MP3s or images)
  • Only 10GB of transfer each month (don’t get popular!)
  • No live support
  • No backups (be sure you make your own)

They have a low-cost tier that rids you of these limitations. But I’ve never heard about this host in any context but “free,” so I question how reliable, supportive, etc they are.

3. WPNode Had Free Hosting in the Past, Doesn’t Seem To Now

In researching this article, I found a lot of references to something I’d never heard of called WPNode. They seem to have been offering free WordPress hosting once. Or maybe that’s an offer they still have, and I just couldn’t navigate through their site well.

What I found in my looking at WPNode wasn’t “free WordPress hosting” but rather a whole bunch of affiliate links to paid hosting system. (There are affiliate links at the end of my article, so “game recognize game,” as they say.)

But I don’t believe that “WPNode free WordPress hosting” is a thing. If I’m wrong, please tell me in the comments.

4. NearlyFreeSpeech.net Seems Like a Popular Low-Cost Host That Can Run WordPress

Randomly, a few months ago I came across a friend using NearlyFreeSpeech.net who wanted to do WordPress. We found directions on their site about how to get WordPress running there. The direction looks a little difficult for someone new to this whole thing, and possibly overwhelming to many beginners, but they seem a reasonable option to me on the whole. Their (public) answer on WordPress support is in their FAQ. If you’re up for a challenge, NearlyFreeSpeech.net could be a good option for free web hosting for WordPress.

A Few Other Options to Try for “free” Web Hosting for WordPress

I ran out of time in putting together this article, but these are the few other companies I came across that seemed to offer free or low-cost WordPress hosting:

Most of the service listed below have the same basic profile of 000webhosting: low storage and bandwidth caps, less or no support, and a lot of advertising for them to you as the administrator and to your visitors.

If you’ve used and loved any of the above, please leave a comment to tell us about your experience. 🙂

Why and When You’ll Pay for Web Hosting for WordPress

The dream of free WordPress hosting isn’t totally illusory. As mentioned, WordPress.com gives you quite literally that, if you’re OK with a “wordpress.com” in your site’s URL. And I did find more companies nominally offering it than I had the patience to try out at length. And I’m sure you could probably find a friend, cousin, or enemy who would tell you “Yes, I have spare space on hosting account for your WordPress site.”

But to me, free hosting isn’t the right thing for 95% or more of WordPress sites. The reasons not to do free WordPress hosting are many. But I suggested the most clear and important one already: When you get bad service from a free host, you’ll get no sympathy from friends, customers, and enemies. Instead you’ll deservedly get a, “Well, what were you expecting?!” Other upsides to paying for WordPress hosting include…

Custom Domain Names

Part of the reason that truly free WordPress hosting for example.com isn’t available is that example.com costs someone money to register. Because of the way domain names work, it’s impossible for anyone to give it to you for free. Maybe in the future that’ll change. But as I write this in 2018, I’m certain that VeriSign gets $8 for every .com URL that is registered. Whether GoDaddy, Name.com, or Google takes your money for a .com, or gives you a promotion price of “free” Verisign as the final arbiter of .com URLs will get its $8.

Because someone must be paid for example.com, and most people don’t want to give websites away as simple charity, you should at least expect to pay $8/year. More than that, you’ll also want to expect that you’re paying someone to update a server, keep it online, and a few other essentials. Again, you might find a fool to do it for free, but probably not forever. This domain name management is a great perk that isn’t usually possible with free web hosting for WordPress.

Better Quality, Realistic Businesses

The reason you should expect to pay, at least the roughly $15 per year that WordPress.com charges for a custom domain is that you want the confidence of working with a stable, reliable, and good business. And if you’re going to work with such an entity, you’re going to pay them. In the capitalist system, money is how you exchange goods and value.

You want real businesses to collaborate with yours. Even if your site is a hobby, you probably want reliable services to make sure your stamp collection website can be updated at all hours of the day. To do that you’ll want to pay.

Our Recommended Affordable WordPress Hosting Options

While the topic of how to buy web hosting is way bigger in scope and scale than this article, I think it’s important to realize that though you can’t get “free WordPress hosting” which is worth your time, you can get good WordPress hosting for a fair price. Two services that we happily recommend are SiteGround and WP Engine.

1. SiteGround

SiteGround has great plans, and in our experience is the best of the “low cost” or “shared” hosts you’ll find. You’ll pay a little more than GoDaddy or Bluehost is likely to charge, but you’ll also find yourself more satisfied with the results both in terms of performance and support services.

2. WP Engine

WP Engine is often significantly higher in cost than someone who found us by seeking out free web hosting for WordPress will pay, but they’re reliably among the top-rated hosting both in formal surveys we do, and in informal discussions with peers.

In Short: There’s Free WordPress Web Hosting, But it All Has Limitations

^^ And on the flip side, there aren’t any options for free unlimited WordPress hosting.

I found at least a few option for “free” WordPress web hosting that I’d consider legitimate alternatives for someone who for a variety of reasons doesn’t want to pay for WordPress hosting. None of them strike me as clearly-great options, but almost all of them are worth considering and looking into.

I don’t think I’d use a free hosting solution for WordPress. Too many things can go wrong, and in my time as a web developer I’ve seen all those and more happen. But free is a very reasonable place to start. Good luck!


3 Responses

Comments

  • David Moylan says:

    I often have friends who have barely used WordPress and want to set up hosting, but are hesitant to start paying for something while they are still “trying to work it out” or “getting their theme organised”.

    I always recommend something like DesktopServer (https://serverpress.com/).
    Their free edition is perfect for setting up WordPress locally on their machine and you can experiment with everything until you get it right.

    Once you are ready to commit to some paid hosting, you can use a plugin like “All-in-One WP Migration” (https://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-wp-migration/) to migrate the site from your local machine to the new host.

    While there are some small caveats with the free editions of both of these products, for most first time users these are awesome solutions 🙂

  • John M. Brooks says:

    Just as a note, there are free domain names, but they come with pretty much equivalent restrictions as the free hosting. Whenever I need a temporary domain name for testing something on my server, I just register one for free at “www.dot.tk”.

    I wouldn’t consider it a long term solution in the same sense as wouldn’t consider free wordpress hosting a long term solution. I believe the main restrictions are that you have to re-register every 3 months or so, and that if you let your domain name fall into disuse and it has some traffic, they’ll turn it into a landing page. But if all you want is to test something for a month or two on your server, that’s irrelevant. And if you’re okay with reregistering every three months, then I guess its plausible for the long term. You can also point the DNS records to wherever you want without issues, and registration and propogation can be done in a few hours.

    By the way, “.tk” doesn’t seem to fare too well SEO-wise (would make sense considering that there are probably a lot of junk sites). And the story behind why .tk domains are free is pretty interesting and worth a read.

    Anyway, just wanted to point it out since for people with multi-domain hosting, sometimes getting a free temporary domain name can be the bigger issue. Good article, by the way.

  • Dominique Devone Devereaux says:

    000webhost.com greatest strength is they are trying to help people LEARN how to host, manage and create a WordPress site before they invest in a hosting plan where they are PAYING for substandard support service.

    If you are going to give a critique, be honest about the real value a user can get. If you want to stress to new WP users the best way to learn, then talk about InstantWP.

    Oh, and thanks for writing about this subject on your blog. I didn’t have any Medium subscribers when I posted my story about this very same topic.

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