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Free Web Hosting No Ads review

Loads of hosting features – and even more limits

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(Image: © Free Web Hosting No Ads)

Our Verdict

A likeable free hosting platform for learning web technologies or building a simple family site, but it doesn't have the power for anything serious.

For

  • Auto-install for WordPress, Joomla, Grav
  • Very basic website builder
  • Supports one POP3 email account
  • Free accounts can use custom domains

Against

  • No SSL
  • Maximum 5GB monthly traffic
  • Almost every feature has significant limits
  • Below average download times

It might not have the most professional of company names, but Free Web Hosting No Ads is a capable provider with almost 10 years’ experience in the free hosting business.

The company has an interesting product, although as usual with free web hosting, it has major limits and issues as well as some appealing features.

Signing up gets you automated installation of WordPress, Joomla and Grav, as well as a basic template-based website builder. But it also restricts you to 1GB disk space and just 5GB of monthly traffic. At an average 1.5MB page size, that translates to barely 110 page views a day.

The company appears to score well on the fundamentals, with support for PHP, Perl, a single MySQL database, FTP and more.

But look closer and there are limits here, too. Your MySQL database is restricted to 30MB, for instance; SiteGround's starter shared hosting plan gives you a more typical 500MB. Yes, you can install WordPress here, but you may run out of space more quickly than you expected.

There's a notable plus in the ability to host your own domain - yourname.com - on its free web space, something that you won't always see with the free competition. (If you don't have a domain, that's okay, you're able to use a free yourname.atwebpages.com subdomain.)

It's good to see you get a free POP3 email account, too. Only one, mind, but we're not complaining: some free hosting providers limit you to email forwarders (you can create a new address, but it forwards incoming emails to another account), others have no email support at all.

There's no cPanel, but that's to be expected for a free product (the company would have to pay for your license.) The service comes with a surprisingly capable control panel of its own, which handles most of the same tasks.

It won't help you with SSL certificates, though, because the free plan doesn't include any, not even the basic self-signed variety.

If this all sounds too restrictive, the company offers a couple of paid options.

The VIP plan provides unlimited disk space and bandwidth, free SSL, up to 100 email accounts, a maximum of five 100MB MySQL databases, weekly backups, support for installing many more web apps (blogs, forums, image galleries, more) and can host two domains. It's worth considering at $0.50 a month for year one, though less competitive at $4.99 a month on renewal.

The PRO plan gets you unlimited everything and a free domain for $4.99 in year one, $9.99 on renewal. 

(The website header also has a 'Cheap VPN' link, which made us wonder if Free Web Hosting No Ads had expanded its range with an entirely new product... But no; it turned out to be just an affiliate link to NordVPN.)

Setup

Signing up for a Free Web Hosting No Ads account takes a little longer than usual, in part because the company asks for so much personal data: email address, name, physical address, even your company name and phone number (look closely, though, and you'll find the last two are optional).

After verifying our email address, we logged into the Free Web Hosting No Ads custom control panel. This is cluttered and likely to intimidate beginners, but experienced users should appreciate the range of features: database management, PHP, email management, site building tools, web stats and more. It's not quite cPanel, but there's way more power and configurability here than you'll see with many free hosts.

Free Web Hosting No Ads hadn't asked us to choose a subdomain yet, unusually (most hosts ask when you sign up), but opening the Domain Manager led us to a Create A Free Subdomain panel where we could set this up.

The company lets you choose subdomains from a lengthy list of options: atwebpages.com, getenjoyment.net, medianewsonline.com, mywebcommunity.org and more. It's good to have options, but they're a little lengthy for our tastes. Fortunately, you can opt to use a custom domain you've registered elsewhere.

Templates

There is an easy to use template-based website builder (Image credit: Free Web Hosting No Ads)

Creating a website

Free Web Hosting No Ads provides four main routes to setting up your first website, and highlights most of these in a small 'First Steps Made Easy' panel.

We ran into problems immediately when we clicked a Templates icon and got an error. On closer inspection, it looks like Free Web Hosting No Ads hadn't set this up properly, and it was pointing at a default 'exampledomain123.com.' That looks a little unprofessional, but once we realized the issue and moved on to other areas of the panel, the service worked as expected.

WordPress

You can install WordPress on the free plan but beware of the database limit (Image credit: Free Web Hosting No Ads)

The Zacky Tools Installer is a simple platform for automating the installation of popular web applications. Sounds good, but there's a catch: it only supports WordPress, Joomla and the CMS Grav. That's a little disappointing, especially as the website claimed it could help with phpBB, and hinted at Drupal support by displaying its logo.

If you're happy with WordPress, of course, this won't matter, and Zacky does have some advantages. Normal one-click installers dump you in a standard WordPress setup with the default theme, for instance, and leave you to figure out how to change it. Here, you're presented with a thumbnail theme gallery upfront, and can choose your preferred option before beginning the installation.

Zacky Website Builder is a simple template-based site building tool. It's basic, and the free plan only enables building very limited sites (5 pages, 10MB storage in total). But if you're just looking to display your CV, or point potential customers to your real-world business, it might, just, be enough.

Tools

The company gave us way more tools than we expected (Image credit: Free Web Hosting No Ads)

If you have your website already, a File Manager gives you everything you need to upload your content, reorganize and edit files, play with permissions and do whatever else you'd like to do. It's not quite as powerful or as easy to use as the best of the competition, but it gets the job done, and even hosting newbies should have their website online with minimal hassle.

Finally, you're able to upload files to your web space via FTP. The service’s welcome email gives you details of your default FTP account, and you can create more accounts in the control panel.

Looking to use your own domain? We opened the domain manager, entered the domain we wanted to use, and a few seconds later, it gave us the company's name servers. We entered those at our domain registrar, and it was working a couple of hours later.

Control Panel

The hosting control panel has more power than we see with most free hosts (Image credit: Free Web Hosting No Ads)

Put this all together, and Free Web Hosting No Ads gives you a fair amount of site building power. Sure, we'd like to be able to install more than three web apps, and for the site builder to handle more pages and files, but it seems unfair to complain when we're being charged nothing at all. The reality is the service mostly covers the basics, and its control panel has plenty of advanced features to help you manage the finished results.

Performance

We used uptime.com and dotcom tools to test Free Web Hosting No Ads' performance (Image credit: Uptime.com)

Performance

Free web hosting is never going to give you leading-edge speed, but it doesn't have to be slow, either. We used a range of top monitoring and testing services to find out how Free Web Hosting No Ads' free service performed.

Uptime.comtracked our server's performance over a week. A single but lengthy outage of 8 hours 24 minutes reduced uptime to a disappointing 95% (most hosts have no outages at all over such a short testing period.) Average response time was reasonable at 300ms, right in the middle of the 200-400ms we typically see from shared hosting providers. Performance was more consistent than usual over the course of the week, too.

Dotcom-tools website speed test simulated loading our site from 16 locations across the US and Europe. The results were a little below par, with an average load time of 1.5s for the first run (that's twice the time of the best providers.)

Free Web Hosting No Ads doesn’t have the best speeds, then, but that's no surprise for a free service. You may see different results, depending on your site type, the number of sites on your server and how busy they are. But that's the advantage of a free host, of course-- it's very easy to create a site of your own and see how it performs long-term.

Final verdict

Free Web Hosting No Ads earns major credit for its range of features, especially for a free service, but it also has plenty of limits and issues (5GB bandwidth, no SSL and the other shortcomings we cover above). We’ve scored it at 3.5 stars because it's useful for simple sites or just learning web technology, but if you need to do anything faintly demanding, go elsewhere.