Monday, 28 December 2009

Free WebHosting, what they don’t tell you

I’ve advertised the free web hosting service “Free web hosting. R0.00 per month with 2x MySQL DBs and php” on and I’ve recently started using their free service.

The advertising offers: no banner ads, 250MB storage, 100 GB transfer bandwidth, php, 2x mySQL databases, no hidden costs, no restrictive terms, free addon domain, free site backups.
See here for comparison of free vs $4.84 per month offering: Compare plans.

BUT: here are some of the pains that I (and others on their forums) have experienced:
1) Installing Joomla using kickstart (from JoomlaPack) was impossible for me – I reached the file count limit (6,000 files) and the unzip process failed with no decent explanation. 
I even tried ftp’ing the files one by one, but of course that file count limit kicked in again!
2) The Fantastico installer for Joomla didn’t work :( – something about… try again later.
The solution was found on the forums: backup your entire site into a zip file (same file as JoomlaPack used), then use the 000webhost’s ‘site restore’ feature.  This then bypasses the file count limit.
3) Connecting to the MySQL database using a database tool like SqlYog does not work – in fact it’s disabled “due to security and server performance reasons” – as stated in the FAQ.  So, I’ll need to use the phpMyAdmin tool.
4) “Web site is under review” message – I don’t really want my web site to be down periodically (for 2 to 4 hours)!  This is a message that was posted while I was debugging a problem on my web site:

Website Under Review
You see this page, because the system administrator of is currently checking this website for malicious content. This redirect will be removed once we will finish manually checking all files on this account. As far we check over 100 websites, it can take about 2-4 hours to complete. If you are the owner of this website, you will get email confirmation once it's done. If you are a visitor - please come back later. is a free web hosting provider and all free hosting providers suffer from abusers. Around 5% of users signup here just to start hacking or phishing website or make other damage. So, in order to survive, we must monitor what our users are hosting.
We are sorry for any inconveniences, but checking all content manually, it is the only way to provide you with the most secure and reliable service. If you have found any illegal website on our network, you can report it here.

5) Are there any more surprises on their way??? Please comments - mmmm, and please don’t… please don’t give me the “You get what you pay for” whipping!  I know, I know ;)

Update on 15Jan2010:
The answer to point 5 above is yes, yes, yes… more surprises:
5) The wonderful and powerful JoomlaPack cannot do its magic of backing up the site… it seems because the backup file is larger than 2MB – I don’t remember seeing a file size limitation on their free services offered page, nor on their FAQ page… seems like these people are having similar problems too: 2MB maximum size of a file?
6) Ok, plan B: use 000webhost’s own backup tools in the control panel… BUT, after starting the backup I got an error:

Backup generation failed. Backups usually fail if your disk usage is more than 100MB or your MySQL database size is more than 50MB. Anyway, you can still download files by File Manager or FTP and export MySQL database by phpMyAdmin.

Any my usage was: (from the 000webhost ‘Account Information’):

Usage 107.5 / 1500.0 MB
Your current disk usage is 107 MB of 1500.0 MB.  You are currently using 7% of your disk space and still have 1392.5 MB left.  Disk usage is updated every 24 hours.

So, what’s the point of offering 1.5GB of disk space if you can only backup 100MB of it????  WTF!
Doesn’t this “100MB rule” conflict with their guarantees:

What are your guarantees?
4. All data is backed up at least once every 7 days (just like paid hosting companies do!) and stored on an offsite server. You're also free to back your data up from cPanel whenever you wish.

Oh, I suppose I shouldn’t worry since I “can still download files by File Manager or FTP and export MySQL database by phpMyAdmin.” 
Come on – be real… now it seems like I’m stuck and will need to either:
reduce the size to below 100MB OR live without backups OR upgrade to Silver plan OR ftp the files off 000webhost and find a non-free host service ($5.84 per month – if you pay monthly (incl. free domain registration and renewals = R44 – not bad… compared to other similar services for R100 pm). Risk free, money back guarantee.
Use coupon    2009off    or   WHTop   and get $2 off per month! – so now it’s down to $3.84 paying monthly = R44 monthly.


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