Building and maintaining a website doesn’t have to be expensive. You can create a basic website for less than a hundred dollars. If you do not need anything fancy, the only expenses are for the domain name and website hosting. However, if you have no budget at all, or want to test the waters before creating a full-fledged business website, you may be tempted to use a free domain for the purpose. But…
Are free domains safe? Free domains are not safe to use for creating a website for an established business or for serious projects. Not only do they look unprofessional, but there are also many associated risks. Firstly, your domain registrar can shut down your domain name at any time. Additionally, information confidentiality is not guaranteed, and you will have very limited web hosting options. When you start with a free domain, you may not find it easy to migrate to another domain later. And if it is a trial service, you may end up paying outrageous prices once the trial period expires.
However, if you are not going to use free domains for any serious business use, then you can use them for learning purposes or to create an online presence for yourself.
To understand the pros and cons of free domains better, let us take a closer look at what free domains are.
What Are Free Domains?
The domain name is your website’s address on the internet. So, if someone wants to find you online, they will type your domain name into the browser. Doing so will direct them to the website host that stores your website information.
Usually, you need to purchase your domain name from a domain registrar, like Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc. However, there are certain domain name providers like Freenom and Dot TK that don’t charge any money for a domain name.
The domains registered through such domain registrars are called Free Domains.
Nevertheless, they are not very popular. Let’s find out why.
7 Risks Associated With Free Domains
Before you decide to go with a free domain, you should be aware of the following risks and limitations.
Recommended Further Reading: How To Register A Domain Name (and Why You Shouldn’t Get It For Free)
1. Free Domains Look Unprofessional And Affect A Website’s Credibility
Using a free domain is not considered to be a good business practice. Potential visitors may regard it as spam and be wary of visiting a website with an unconventional domain extension.
If you want your business website to have a serious and professional image, free domains can ruin your prospects. Since free domains are often associated with malware distribution, your business image may be impacted.
2. Free Domains Can Be Shut Down At Any Time
When you sign up for a free domain, read the terms and conditions carefully. You will most likely notice that the domain registrar has mentioned that the domain can be shut down at any time.
If they suddenly pack up, you will lose all of your website visitors without prior notice. Unless you have backed up all the details of the website, you may lose your content forever too. Additionally, all the time and resources that you invested in setting up a website will also be wasted.
3. Free Domains Are Prone To Hacking
Free domains have limited or no security. So they are highly prone to hacking and phishing attacks. This can adversely affect your data confidentiality.
If your website is hacked, you may be unable to recover it. Not only will you lose access to all the data you uploaded, but your website may also end up being used for unethical purposes.
4. Free Domains Offer Limited Web Hosting Options
Free domains can usually be hosted only with Web Hosts providing free web hosting. Such Web Hosts offer limited storage space for your files. You may also have to settle for a poorly designed template due to space constraints in this case.
Unless you upgrade to a paid plan, you will have access to limited HTML pages. This can pose a problem if you wish to expand your website or add more pages in the future.
Related Further Reading:
- How To Host A WordPress Site The Correct Way!
- How To Make A Website Without Writing A Single Line Of Code
- Why Is Web Hosting So Expensive? – 6 Main Factors
- Are .io Domains Safe? (Truth About Its Safety And Reliability)
5. Your Information Is At Risk
Free domains are notorious for unethical practices. If you are not paying anything, the domain registrar is most likely making revenue in other ways. This could be by selling off your address, personal information, or business information to other companies.
Since you will not be the legal owner of the website, you cannot hold them accountable for what they do with your data. You automatically permit them to use your information as they choose when signing up for the service.
6. Irrelevant Advertisements
Free domains often earn revenue through paid ads. You cannot restrict or choose the content of these ads.
There is nothing you can do if they are offensive, irrelevant, or inappropriate. So, your visitors may form an unfavorable impression of your business when such ads appear on your website.
7. Can Be Expensive To Migrate Or Keep After The Trial Period
If you sign up for a free trial, you will most likely be charged exorbitant prices after the trial period expires. This can throw your budget off-track.
Similarly, if you decide to migrate to a paid domain in the future, you may find it difficult to move all the existing data. So, a free domain can turn out to be an expensive choice in the long run.
Safety issues aside, you will also be compromising your SEO positioning when you choose a free domain. Search engines like Google give priority to recognized TLDs like .com, .net, and .org in their rankings. A free domain extension like .tk can compromise your search engine rankings, even if you have stellar content.
Similarly, you may also find it difficult to earn additional income through advertisements on your website. Free domains are notorious for being used by spammers and hackers. Since most advertisers avoid such sites, don’t expect to get a Google Adsense membership easily.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Are .biz Domains Any Good? Should You Use Them? (SEO Impact?)
- Are Long Domain Names Bad? (Pros, Cons and SEO Impact)
The Better Alternative For Free Domains
As you just saw, there are many issues associated with free domains. However, if you are in a financial crunch and cannot afford to buy a .com TLD, what do you do?
Fortunately, there is an alternative. Certain web hosting services offer free domain names with web hosting. So, when you opt for such services, you will be eligible for a free domain name. This reduces your safety risk, and it is a win-win situation.
Of course, the catch is that your domain name isn’t exactly free. However, your website needs hosting anyway. So, getting a reliable and recognizable domain name along with hosting will reduce your financial burden to an extent.
Related Further Reading: Does Web Hosting Include Domain Name? Yes And No – Here’s Why
The Bottom Line….
There are more negatives than positives for free domains.
Free domains do not have a good reputation because they have always been targeted by hackers and spammers. Additionally, when you choose a free domain, there are several risks involved. Your information confidentiality is not assured. The service provider can stop the service and cause you to lose your website without any warning. Free domains are also subjected to irrelevant and inappropriate advertising that will present your business in an unfavorable light.
Some domains are offered for free for a limited time. If you opt for these offers, you may end up paying huge amounts to retain the domain name after the trial period. It can also be challenging to migrate to another domain if you want to expand your website later.
Hence, you will be compromising a lot when you opt for a free domain. Unless it is for learning purposes or a personal project, avoid free domains. It is certainly not the best option.