Want Free Domain Hosting? Here’s What You Lose!

You want the cheapest web hosting. Who doesn’t? So you look at which web host has the lowest total cost – namely the cost of hosting + the cost of domain registration. There are many, many hosts that give you a free domain on signup. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Free domain hosting always comes with a catch.

There are no free domain + hosting plans

That’s why some web hosts like Hostgator don’t automatically offer free domain registration. In a way, they’re actually being more honest with you than other providers. For example, the top Hostgator coupon for 78% off only applies to the shared hosting price. Not the domain registration costs.

Domain Registration is a Non-Negotiable “Direct” Cost to Web Hosts

Many hosting costs are indirect, and web hosts can afford to provide them for free – at least in the short term. That’s why you see these amazing discounts that allow you to host your site for almost nothing.

But domain registration costs are non-negotiable. These are paid directly to a 3rd party, and also includes an ICANN fee. As far as I know, Cloudflare is the only domain registrar that sells domains “at cost” as shown here:

Cloudflare sells domains at cost
Cloudflare Sells Domains at Cost Price

So you see – even the cheapest hosting with free domain registration can’t possibly go lower than this price. Any more than that, and the web hosts will be running at a loss. So when a web host offers you a free domain, what does it mean?

No Free Domain Hosting: Cost is Built In

The most famous web host that offers free domain registrations is Bluehost. You can see here, that their prices start at $2.95/m. Now compare this to Hostgator’s hosting that starts at $2.64/m, but doesn’t offer a free domain.

That’s a difference of $1.37 per month that Bluehost is charging over and above Hostgator’s plans. The two web hosts are comparable in price, so why the difference in cost? The answer is obvious – domain registration!

Here’s a quick comparison between the two. You can see that with the added domain registration cost, the pricing for the two web hosts is virtually the same!

Hostgator and Bluehost Pricing
Hosting Cost Domain Registration Fee Total Cost
Hostgator $2.58/m $1.07 $3.65/m
Bluehost $3.95/m Free $3.95/m

This means that no web host is going to give you free domain registration for nothing. Because no one wants to go at a loss. They can compromise on other resources – hard disk space, bandwidth, or CPU cycles because it might not cost them much directly. But domain registration fees are set in stone. Here’s a more complete comparison between Hostgator and Bluehost plans.

Even 000webhost.com, which famously offers “free” web hosting, doesn’t give you a free domain as shown here:

No Free Domain Hosting with 000webhost.com
No Free Domains with 000webhost.com

Another famous hosting provider that offers free web hosting is InfinityFree.net. But look closely at their product page, and you see this:

InfinityFree.net Also Doesn't Give Free Domains
InfinityFree.net Also Doesn’t Give Free Domains

This is proof that if you’re looking for truly free domain hosting without any catches, you’re going to be disappointed. It doesn’t exist.

Best Option: Purchase your Domain from Cloudflare

If you really need to get the absolutely cheapest deal, then you should separate your domain registration from your hosting service. This has the added perk of allowing you to freely move between web hosts when you want to migrate.

As mentioned above, Cloudflare makes the promise of offering domain registrations at cost. That’s about as honest an answer as you’re going to get. You won’t get it cheaper anywhere else. So purchase your domain name from Cloudflare, and then find the cheapest web hosting you can find. Just keep in mind one thing – hosting isn’t truly free either.

If you choose a company like 000webhost.com with free hosting, you’re going to get a severely dysfunctional product. Here’s a list of things you lose when you opt for “free” web hosting. So as a long term solution, get a “normal” web host like Hostgator, and purchase the domain name separately. It’ll turn out to be cheaper for you than anything else on offer.

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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