While most services will want to charge you a few bucks a month to run a server that hosts your website, nowadays there are plenty of online places to host your content entirely for free. With a bit of web dev skill, you can have a site up and running in no time.
Free Domains & HTTPS
Every website needs a domain. Some services will let you host at subdomains, e.g.
yoursitename.googlepages.com, but if you want a professional looking address, you’ll probably want to get a domain name.
Fortunately, domain names are pretty cheap. Services like Namecheap and Google Domains offer domains for less than $8 for an entire year, and for good extensions like
If you don’t want to pay that, and are fine with a weird looking extension, you can use Freenom, which provides 100% free domain names with extensions like
If you need an SSL certificate to secure your site with HTTPS, don’t fall for companies that want to charge you for it—SSL certificates can be had free of charge with Let’s Encrypt, and most good hosting platforms will include this as a free service.
Free Website Templates
Making the website itself can be a challenge. HTML and CSS can be confusing to new learners, though there are lots of great resources available for picking it up. Still, many people will gladly pay the $15 a month for a website builder like SquareSpace.
However, you can save all this money by doing it yourself, and if you already know HTML and CSS, there are some great templates to start from.
You’ll probably want to focus on sites built with a web styling toolkit like Bootstrap, as it’s easiest for beginners and has a ton of examples and documentation. You can also get entire templates for free from sites like StartBootstrap.
If you need to make something custom, even if you don’t know much HTML, it’s relatively easy to open these templates up and change the words, restyle something, or add and remove sections. You’ll want to use a code-focused text editor like Visual Studio Code.
Free Static Hosting
The main thing you’re paying for when you host a website is the server cost. Somewhere in the world, a computer must be running and set up to listen to any web requests your users make.
This process costs money, but for most people, their website doesn’t have millions of views every day. That server might be sitting idle for minutes at a time before another user scrolls by. In that case, paying even $10 a month to host a small website can actually be a waste of money.
There are services available to make hosting cheaper. If you’re just serving HTML—not running WordPress or anything else that needs to do server-side processing for each user—your website may just be “static content.” Most webpages are static, and if you’re serving static content, all your server needs to do is let people download the files for your website.
There are a number of companies that provide this as a service, including Google and Amazon, because it’s cheaper and easier to run hundreds of similar websites off of one big, cost-effective server. If you don’t fall under the free tier, you may pay a small amount for the data used.
Github Pages is first up on the list because it’s entirely free, often overlooked, and perfect for this use case. The only stipulation is that Github Pages’ terms of service only allow non-commercial use, so you can’t use it to set up an e-commerce website, an online business, or sell anything.
However, it’s fantastic for hobby projects, as it’s intended to be used by programmers looking to set up project pages or portfolios. It provides a bunch of good templates, though you’re free to upload any HTML you want, including client-side web apps built with services like React.
It’s pretty easy to use—you’ll need to create an account, create the site repository, and upload your content through Git, which you can do from the Github Desktop app. You can even configure a custom domain to point towards it
RELATED: How to Set Up a Simple Free Website With Github Pages
Google: Firebase & Google Sites
Being such a large company, Google actually has two services that fulfill this niche, but targeted at different audiences. The first is Google Sites, a free website editor intended for people new to hosting websites.
It’s entirely free but limited by being extremely basic; you can’t even use custom HTML, and you’re locked to their editor. It works well for things like hobby projects, online portfolios or resumes, or internal company sites. If you’re using it for the latter, you can lock it down so it’s only visible by other users on your GSuite plan. If you’re not, you can publish it to the internet, even under a custom domain.
RELATED: What Is Google Sites, and When Should You Use It?
Firebase is another service from Google that’s aimed at developers but is fairly easy to use. You’ll need to use your command line to install the Firebase command line tool, but once it’s set up and linked to your account, all you need to do is run “
firebase deploy” in the console, and it will sync all the local files to the cloud and update your website.
Firebase isn’t entirely free, but you get 10 GB per month of bandwidth on the free tier, which is more than enough for simple sites. If you go over, you can upgrade to a paid account and pay Google Cloud’s standard rate for data.
RELATED: How to Host a Static Website for Free on Google’s Firebase Hosting Platform
AWS S3 Buckets
Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is a service mostly intended for system administrators and software developers looking to run their apps on top-tier cloud hardware.
While it’s the most complicated option on this list for new website owners, and is not meant for beginners, it is technically the best option as it has a very generous free tier. One of their philosophies is pricing based only on what you used, and in this situation, you can host a website from their storage service and only pay for bandwidth used to download your site.
How it works is pretty simple. AWS has a cloud storage service called Simple Storage Service (S3) which can be configured to host websites from. You upload your HTML and other assets to the “bucket” you created and configure the settings to turn on web hosting. You can even hook up a custom domain.
Optionally, you can hook up a “Content Delivery Network,” or CDN. This will speed up your website a lot by caching requests to it, but it also has the benefit of providing you with an entire terabyte of free bandwidth. Without the CDN, you will only get the standard 100 GB for all of AWS, though that’s already more than most people will need.
RELATED: How to Host a Static Website on Amazon S3
Is “Free Hosting” from Paid Services a Scam?
There are some paid services that will offer a whole free tier instead of a limited time free trial. Generally, you’ll want to watch out and read the fine print in these cases, as most of the time they’re designed specifically to get you to spend money in the future. But, if you’re not hitting the limits for free tier usage, you might be fine using one.
000webhost has a “cheap web hosting” option that’s entirely free, but obviously quite limited. You get one site, a little bandwidth (a third of Google Firebase’s free tier amount), and basically nothing else. No email, custom domain, or even SSL certificates—which are literally free from LetsEncrypt.
So, it’s clear what the point of this is: annoy you enough to spend $2 a month for a better experience. Still, if you want to run something like a simple blog, having “100% free” WordPress hosting is pretty good, even if it does end up costing you $2 later on.
Another service similar to this is Wix, which offers a free tier with the main catch being that you won’t be able to use a custom domain. Like 000webhost, it’s also quite limited, but does come with nice templates and an easy-to-use UI for building your page.