Free Hosting—but What’s the Catch?
Established in India in 2012, GoogieHost was born to meet a need in the market—to provide affordable hosting to the average user. GoogieHost has since become a nonprofit organization that offers most of its services for free—or at a low price, if you opt for the paid plans offered in partnership with InterServer.
GoogieHost is host to more than 100,000 users across the globe. Technically a reseller of InterServer.net, its servers are in the U.K., U.S., and New Zealand, and it supports English, Hindi, Spanish, Indonesian, and Italian.
With no ads, free website hosting, free business email, and unlimited bandwidth, GoogieHost’s offer is generous, for sure. But, we all know there’s no such thing as “free.” What’s the catch (there is one!) with all of this generosity, and is it a compromise worth making?
Read on to find out.
Free Features Galore
GoogieHost’s free plans include lots of features that you don’t usually get for free—like a website builder, design templates, and spam protection, as well as an SSL certificate. Plus, with unlimited bandwidth, you have peace of mind that if your traffic increases, your expenses won’t. However, if you need extra security features, that’s when you’ll need to consider using the premium services offered by its partner, InterServer.
Unlimited Subdomains and FTP Accounts
GoogieHost is a free host, so you won’t get a free domain name, but you do get unlimited free subdomains. This means you can build multiple websites on various subdomains, for no additional monthly fee.
Free Email Accounts
GoogieHost offers free professional email addresses. That’s a great feature, perfect for those starting out and not ready to pay for a professional email with Google (or a similar provider)—especially when you want to keep your expenses down.
No Ads on Your Website
When you opt for a free hosting provider, you’re often forced to place advertising on your website. Refreshingly, GoogieHost doesn’t expect or even try to put up ads on your site, which means that your website will only ever display the content you put on it.
Unlimited Hosting of Website Files
GoogieHost claims you can host unlimited website files, but you’re really capped at 1000 MB of SSD storage. Yes, it’s a little misleading, but 1000 MB is more than enough for most websites, and SSD means it should perform up to ten times faster than traditional HDD.
Ease of use
As GoogieHost’s target market is new website owners, as you’d expect, most features are simple to use. This is largely due to the proven combo of cPanel and Softaculous, rather than anything groundbreaking provided by GoogieHost.
cPanel, if you’re not familiar with it, is an online control panel for managing your website. The panel is designed to assist and support your user experience and it’s widely trusted in the hosting industry. It’s where you’ll create new email accounts and sub-domains, install scripts, and so on. Basically, it will make your life easier, once you understand the interface.
Free Website Builder
GoogieHost has a great website building feature that allows you to build your website professionally—no need to hire a developer or learn to code. You’ll also have access to around 100 web templates, making it possible to create a website in minutes.
Create an Account
In order to test the account creation process, I tried to sign up for a free account with GoogieHost. Unfortunately, every time I went through the process I got an error message stating that only one free account is allowed per customer.
I didn’t have an existing account with GoogieHost, so it was very strange. I tried with multiple email addresses, using a VPN, and in incognito mode—and received the same error message every time.
Whatever I did, I was unable to sign up for the free account. Of course, this was disappointing and meant I wasn’t able to set up a test WordPress website, test the speed, or do any of the usual tests I would normally do.
Few Complaints from Users
If I were cynical, I might think the 99.9% uptime guarantee was more of a marketing ploy than a bona fide service-level agreement (SLA). I mean, if your plan’s free, you’re not going to get any compensation in the event of excessive downtime, are you?
However, considering it’s a free host, it’s great to see a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and aside from scheduled downtime, GoogieHosts’ reliability is good, and this seems to be the consensus from most users.
Helpful Support with Fluctuating Response Times
The type of support available to you from GoogieHost depends on what service you have opted for. If you have the free service, you have limited options. You can head to GoogieHost’s forum to find assistance or you fill out the online contact form.
The community forum was a bit of a flop in my experience—I submitted a question, but despite waiting 48 hours for the moderator to approve and publish it, as far as I’m aware, it never was.
If you purchase the premium service from InterServer.net, there are a few more options available to you. You have access to live chat, email, or the forum for help.
GoogieHost doesn’t charge for its service—that’s part of its mission. As you’d expect from a cost-focused host, all of the add-on prices are reasonable and GoogieHost even offers a 99% discount on InterServer prices as an introductory offer.
If you’re ready to make a purchase (such as SSL certificate upgrades or domain names), GoogieHost only accepts PayPal, unless you’re based in India.
Cancellations & Refunds
As I wasn’t able to sign up for GoogieHost, I can’t comment on the cancellation process. However, canceling your account with both GoogieHost and InterServer can be done entirely from your control panel.
Of course, GoogieHost is free, but if you do choose to try InterServer’s premium hosting services, they do have a money-back guarantee.