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No-Budget Webhosting

Webhosting is one of the most critical choices you can make when it comes to the decision of how to build and run a site. For most organizations, this isn't a place you want to cut corners -- responsive customer service and respectable uptime can come at a premium, but are usually worth it in the long run. That said, sometimes having a free Webhost for testing things out or to use as a sandbox is just what you need.
Webhosting is one of the most critical choices you can make when it comes to the decision of how to build and run a site. For most organizations, this isn't a place you want to cut corners -- responsive customer service and respectable uptime can come at a premium, but are usually worth it in the long run. That said, sometimes having a free Webhost for testing things out or to use as a sandbox is just what you need.If you're planning to set up one of the more common blogging/CMS platforms (Drupal, Joomla, Movable Type, Wordpress), the host will need to support PHP scripting (plus Perl for Movable Type) and a MySQL database. Of course, if all you're looking to do is try out a quick demo of the CMS platform, it will save you time and configuration headaches if you just check to see if your CMS of choice is available on OpenSourceCMS.com's demo page.

A number of sites round up lists of free hosting providers, but the best I've come across lately is Free-webhosts.com. It organizes the hosting providers by the types of support that they offer. For our purposes, the page listing hosts that offer PHP and MySQL support is most useful. Free-webhosts.com rates and has users reviews for most of the hosts, but some of the reviews are so positive, I took them with a grain of salt.

One free host that seems to support all of the CMS platforms mentioned above is Freehostia. It's been around for a few years, has positive reviews and active user forums, and doesn't appear to be a fly-by-night operation. I've just recently signed up and started playing around with their service, and I like what I've seen so far.

While many of free hosting providers offer fairly basic free services as a come-on for their more robust offers, you should be careful about using them to host anything important. Always back up your site, and never use a free host for a production site that demands any sort of reliable uptime. Countless free hosts have come and gone over the years, so don't get too attached to someone offering something for nothing, as it may disappear (and take your site with it) overnight.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing