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000webhost review

Set up two websites for free, with SSL thrown in

000webhost

Our Verdict

000webhost's custom control panel needs work, but you won't have to use it often, and what really stands out here is the easy SSL and above-average speeds.

For

  • Decent performance
  • Supports two websites
  • Free SSL
  • Easy to use for basic tasks

Against

  • Email support via forwarders only
  • Custom control is basic, has some issues
  • Auto-install for WordPress only

000webhost is a veteran web hosting outfit that claims to have hosted free websites for more than 18 million users.

The company’s plans come with 1GB of disk space and 10GB monthly bandwidth. To put that into context, if your web pages are an average 1.5MB in size, that translates to a little more than 220 page views per day.

The service includes support for PHP and MySQL (with a 1GB size limit for databases), a website builder to help create your site, or automated installation of WordPress if you prefer (but no support for other apps), with a simple custom control panel to help manage every aspect of your plan.

000webhost's free service doesn't enable creating email accounts, a potential irritation. It does allow you to create up to five email forwarders, though, that will pass emails on to another address. But some competitors go further, and, for example, Infinity Free supports up to 10 POP3 email accounts for your site.

You're able to host two sites with the same 000webhost account, conveniently. These can't be busy sites as you'll just use up your bandwidth allowance even more quickly, but there are other advantages. For instance, if you're learning WordPress, you could make one site public, and use the second as a testbed to experiment and try out new ideas.

Sign up for 000webhost and you get to choose a subdomain for your site (myname.000webhostapp.com). There’s no need to worry about SSL, you're automatically covered by an 000webhost certificate (and it's a real one, not the self-signed certificates you'll get with some hosts, so your visitors won't see any security errors).

Free sites have a 000webhost logo at the bottom right of the screen (that's the screen, not the page, so it's always visible.) It's small and didn't get in our way, but you can opt for a paid plan if it gets annoying. These start from $7.99 a month and are provided by 000webhosting's parent company, Hostinger International.

000webhost

(Image credit: 000webhost)

Setup

Signing up with 000webhost begins much like every other web service you've ever used. Enter your email address, choose a password and click a link in the 'Verify your address' email; easy.

After that, life gets more interesting. Instead of just dumping you in the control panel, 000webhost uses a simple web-based wizard to point you in the right direction.

You're asked what goal you'd like to achieve, for instance (learn web development, build an online store, create a web design, start a blog). The wizard prompts for your level of experience, asks you to choose a website name, and creates a starting site for you.

This makes life far easier than you'll get with many competitors. To install WordPress, for example, you aren't expected to browse cPanel and know what the 'Softaculous' icon does. Instead, the wizard took us to a page with just three options: 'Build your website easily', 'Create your WordPress website' or 'Upload your existing website.' No need for web hosting knowledge here.

We chose the WordPress option, and were prompted for our site language, username and password. Again, far simpler than taking the usual routes. Although, of course, it's also more limited – Softaculous can install 400+ popular web apps, whereas here it's just WordPress.

Unfortunately, we stumbled upon a significant problem right at the end. 000webhost told us our site was ready, and invited us to hit a Configuration button, but this told us that: 'The file wp-config.php already exists. If you need to reset any of the configuration items in this file, please delete it first.' Not so beginner-friendly.

Experienced users would probably look at the URL – https://nuetools.000webhostapp.com/wp-admin/setup-config.php – and correctly realize they can go directly to the wp-admin page, but beginners are likely to be confused.

000webhost

(Image credit: 000webhost)

Creating a website

Your free 000webhost account gives you three main ways to create your website.

A Website Builder (Zyro) gives you 196 templates organized into multiple categories (Business, Food, Health, Personal, Sport and more).

The template designs look good, while a capable editor enables integrating the site with YouTube, Google Maps, social media and more, along with PayPal and other payment buttons and assorted e-commerce extras.

As we discussed above, an Install WordPress option automates the process of installing and setting up WordPress.

If you already have a static website, a capable file manager (the open source AngularJS) helps you get it uploaded and organized. This can be as easy as dragging and dropping the files and folders you need, but you can also edit files, set permissions, and generally rearrange everything to suit your needs.

000webhost

(Image credit: 000webhost)

The 000webhost control panel does its best to make this easy. There are large buttons for each function, options you can't use in the free version are greyed out, and unnecessary technical extras are kept to a minimum. But dig deeper and life becomes a little more complicated.

For example, the control panel clearly tells you that FTP accounts are a premium-only feature. But open the File Manager and a prompt recommends you use FTP. A mistake? Not exactly: you don't get access to full FTP account setup, but you can disable the File Manager and use its credentials instead.

Similarly, experienced users browsing the Databases section will notice that it lists phpMyAdmin as a premium feature. But if you open the Database Manager and click the Manage button, you'll find a working phpMyAdmin option.

Even some apparently simple tasks can be more complicated than you'd expect. A My Sites page displays your creations, for instance, but doesn't give any indication of how you can delete a site and start again. We explored various menus and panels, eventually finding the options we needed in the Settings box.

The real issue here is that if you run into difficulties, there's very little help with the free package. There's no detailed web manual, no tech support, all you can really do is post your question on a Community Forum. This does have one advantage for potential customers, though – it makes it easy to see the issues 000webhost customers are talking about right now.

Dotcom-Monitor

(Image credit: Dotcom-Monitor)

Performance

A web host may have plenty of features, but these won't matter much if your site is so slow that visitors don't bother to stick around. Speed matters, and we use a range of speed test and monitoring sites to help you separate the winners from the duds.

We began by using Uptime.com to automatically monitor our site performance over time. The results showed a typical response time of 240ms, very acceptable, although this reached as high as 900ms for occasional individual checks.

Dotcom-tools website speed test simulated loading our site from 16 locations across the US and Europe.

This returned an average time of 0.8 seconds for the first load test, 0.6 for the second, putting it in the mid-range of free web hosts.

The review ended with more good news when Bitcatcha's website speed checker benchmarked our site from 10 locations worldwide, and rated it A for 'exceptionally quick.'

Website speed is affected by many different factors, and there's no guarantee you'll see exactly the same results as we did. If you're on a server with some very busy sites, for instance, performance could plummet as you fight over the available bandwidth. All free hosts have the same problem, though, and 000webhosting looks like it'll give you better baseline speeds than most.

Final verdict

000webhost's service has some limits and quirks, but that's to be expected with free hosting. If your needs are simple, they won't affect you too much (apart from the lack of email, maybe), and most users will be far more interested in the solid speeds and hassle-free SSL. Give it a try.