Many get seduced by the free domain deals. Often you are offerred a free domain name when you buy a hosting or sometimes absolutely free (usually, in exchange for ads on it).
There’s a good Russian saying that “free cheese is only found in a mousetrap”. Keep this in mind when opting for any “free” domains.
They are not that expensive to buy. $10 a year – are you really going to be looking for a free one to save 10 bucks?
At the same time, domain names are very important. Your name is like your address in the world wide web. It’s sort of like an adress of your store in real life.
Think twice before you decide to try and open a website on a free domain that you do not really own. If your website becomes popular one day – you woun’t want to have to move it to another domain. Its often a painful procedure.
Imagine you have started a small business and opened a grocery store somewhere. Year goes by and your place gains popularity. You’ve got repeat customers, advertisement is working, business is going well. But then all of a sudden your landlady comes and says your place is making too much noise, neighbours have started complaining, and she wants you to move out. And there is nothing you can do because you don’t have any long-term contracts as you opted for cheap but questionable deal. So you move to a new place and have to start almost from the scratch. Noone knows where you’ve gone.
Similar situations take place with people who start their web business on free domains and hostings. They think, since they’re not sure if their project works out its just natural to try on a free domain.
My advise – only start on a free domain if you’re sure nothing will work out 🙂
Of course, there are different kinds of deals with free names, but many if not most of them sure have some kind of catch. Sometimes, its inability to move your domain to another hosting provider for a year or more. Don’t kid yourself, there is no charity on the net. Someone offers you to register a domain for you for free – read terms of service carefully before you agree.
You may try and find a free hosting, but be sure to buy a domain name. Switch hostings every day if you want, but you have to have one domain where search engines and people know they can find your site.
A common situation is when a website grows to be too popular and the free hosting no longer fits. The company says: you are using up too much resources, you can either switch to one of our pay plans or we close you down. You make some inquiries and come to find out you could buy a hosting plan twice cheaper in the other company, but you don’t own a domain name and your current provider woun’t let you go. So you’re stuck.
The most important aspect is your website popularity is tied to your domain name. Domains get Google’s PR, they get inbound links, they win positions in search results, they grow older winning trust… If one day you want to move to another domain name, you want to keep all those good things you’ve earnt. For that, you will need a proper 301 redirect set up. Free hostings often do not provide such things, so when you move – you loose almost everything you had.
In general, when you pay for something, you usually get some guarantees in return. But when you’re given something “free of charge”, those guarantees are absent, or some additional strings are attached.
You may still get lucky and experience no troubles, but what’s the point of taking this risk? Again, domains are so cheap these days – pay $10 a year and be the ligitimate owner.