I wanted to see what kind of options I could leverage while creating a website for free, this is the current result.
I’ve hosted several sites using paid hosting, names and such..the TL;DR was that I could do everything minus reliable
The most obvious disadvantage is in being the second class citizen of the providers..your domain name won’t be a
common .com/.net/.biz type, if you want a custom domain you’re limited to the kind offered by Freenom. Not entirely
a problem with the expanding list of top level domains, you’re just another in the crowd, it also allows some decent finds.
I’ve taken free domains where the .com version would cost several hunder GBP.
And you won’t get top tier performance, if your site isn’t regularly accessed it may take ~30 seconds for the providers to
spin up your site for someone.
The resources I used:
They allow you to register (.tk/.ml/.gq/.cf/.ga) domains for up to 1 year at a time for free. *most are free, a few are priced if applicable
Setting up alternate name servers has been straight forward in all cases, all SSL and hosting services have worked fine.
#NOTE# The only real issue has been with using .tk domains, these are apparently popular with spam/scam sites so some hosting
companies won’t allow them.
Previously I’ve also tried 000webhost and x10hosting, but recent changes to the companies have made free hosting unusable (000webhost rate limit you so hard you it can take hours to edit pages due to timeouts and x10hosting no longer allow SSL for free sites causing browsers to block them).
InfinityFree are still crazy generous with their hosting, not only allowing SSL and workable rate limits they have massive storage and bandwidth allowances, top that off with allowing 3 sites per user account. They’re the no brainer go-to for free hosting and potentially paid hosting but I’ve
yet to test that.
There are 2 options here:
They allow 1 free non-commercial certificate, it’s easy to setup in most cases and has their usual DDOS protection and such.
They allow unlimited certificates but sometimes take some more work to setup, also the certificates last 3 months instead of the 1 year via. cloudflare.
#NOTE# Some browsers are happy to trust a LetsEncrypt certificate and might label the site as untrustworthy, the only time I’ve seen this happen personally was an ancient android installation of Firefox. Regular modern browsers have all worked fine.
The site itself
This is much more down to personal taste, I like something simple to setup but ultra versatile, this is the combo of stuff I use most.
I love this theme the most, it’s clean and diverse.
*Large clear content section with optional sidebar to configure (allows different configs for pages and posts).
*Header, sidebar and Footer sections are easily configured using drag and drop widgets.
*Menu that works great out of the box, easy to configure for desktop/tablet/phones individually.
*Very minimal loading requirements so it’s quick which is a bonus on free hosting.
Elementor (with Essential Add-ons)
Page builders just add some flavor to the base theme, Customify is fine by itself but Elementor lets you slot in
additional bling features like image carousels, animated text/buttons/bars.
Elementor is the best of these builders in my experience, the free Essential Add-ons aren’t needed but they’re free
and have some nice extras so why not install.
wps hide login
*by default a wordpress admin page is “website.com/wp-admin”, lots of people know this and it can be easy to get usernames by looking at who creates the blogs. This add-on lets you change the “wp-admin” to a custom URL, it’s not perfect but adds another layer of security for you.
*If you’re using a lot of images it can eat into your free storage quota and slow down page loading, Smush will help optimize image sizes and loading speeds. It auto optimizes images as you upload them, well worth the 10 seconds it takes to install.
child theme configurator
*For a simple site this isn’t essential but it’s generally good practice to create a child-theme and work on that instead of your main theme.
*A backup tool, it’s easy to use and backups are potentially good to have..but remember, backups are worthless…successful restores are priceless.
Make sure your backups/restores work and include what you need them to!.