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One of the first things you need when creating a new Web site is a place to put it. Fortunately there is a plentiful supply of companies willing to host your site for free. Why do they do this? Because they have plans for how it will benefit them as well. But it can be a good deal for you too.

A common way free Web hosts make their money is to run advertisements on your site. These may come in the form of a banner ad that runs across the top of each page, or a pop up window that appears whenever users access your site.  Some sites will give you a bit of control over the type of ads that run, and most promise not to display pornographic or similarly objectionable ads.

A few free Web hosts don't run advertisements on your pages, but have other ways of making a profit.  One method is to sell you add-ons. These can be features for your site, such as shopping cart software, a special Web address, or elimination of the ads on your pages. Such companies are coming up with new revenue generating ideas every day. Most of this stuff is no big deal to amateur Web site builders. Especially since paid hosting often costs $20/month or more.

When choosing a company to host your site for free, the key considerations are the type and location of the ads they run, the amount of Web space allotted to you, the free add-ons they offer, and whether or not you are restricted to using only their site-building tools. 

Choose a type of ads that doesn't drive you crazy and won't drive your visitors away. Pop up ads can be especially obnoxious. If you want add-ons such as a message board as part of your site, you may be able to hook them in directly from your free Web host. If not, you can get them elsewhere.

The use of custom site-building tools is an especially important issue. While you might find such tools a big plus at first, they  tend to restrict what you can do with your pages. Their use also means you don't have a copy of your Web site in your possession. This makes it harder to move the site somewhere else in the future if you find it necessary. For these reasons, many site builders prefer Web hosts that allow ftp upload of files.

Remember to check out a few sample sites before you sign up for any service, and read the terms of use. That will tell  you if commercial sites are allowed, and any other restrictions you may have to comply with.

Are you ready to search for free Web hosting?

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