Church Sites Part 2 Free Hosting

Be sure to read the previous post about domain names.

One of the things that can get pretty confusing when it comes to church websites is “hosting.” Basically, hosting refers to a digital home for the guts of your website. This is where your files, images, sound files, etc., are stored. Think of the hosting service as your website’s house, and the domain as it’s mailing address.

When I first got into the web business, hosting was a major expense. There was no such thing as a cheap hosting provider, and there were no free hosting providers. There were services you could use that let you have a page on their website (I actually ran one of these), but not free hosting of your own site.

These days, there are tons of inexpensive hosting providers, but the quality and features they provide are extremely varied. There are also a few commercial hosting providers that give non-profit-organizations (NPOs) free hosting accounts. You have to apply for it and prove your NPO status, but once you do, it’s free.

You can google or bing “free church website hosting” and you’ll find a ton of these providers. As for advice, the only one I’ve any experience with is DreamHost. I first heard their service a couple years ago when one of my good friends told me they were hosting their church that way. Of course, DreamHost has a solid reputation as a hosting provider even without the free stuff.

Anyway, you can get hosted for free, just be careful and choose wisely! Oh, and be sure they support the system requirements for WordPress. I’ll explain more about that in the next post.

10 Replies to “Church Sites Part 2 Free Hosting”

  1. Herb, our church has been using for about three years now and it has done a decent job for how we’ve used our website so far. It costs us $9.95/mo and includes the domain registration and hosting. The main selling point for us (since there were no techies among us) was how easy it was to get registered and up and running literally in less than an hour! Mainly we have used the website as a bulletin board that gives basic information and then points the vistor to our facebook page. Do you think there is a better option in the free – $10/month range? Or much better options for just a little more investment?

    1. I’m not sure what “back-end” you’re using to manage your content. Another host may or may not provide that same back-end. I do know that Dreamhost shows WordPress as one of the features for NP accounts, which means you can install it using your site’s control panel. But, as far as “functionality,” you could easily do what you are currently doing on Dreamhost with WordPress. $10 a month is not a lot of money, but I’m sure you could use the $10 you’d free-up.

      One thing of note: going “free” is not always good. While I’ve heard nothing but great things about Dreamhost, you need to look into what level of customer service you’d be losing or gaining by such a move. I honestly don’t know.

      Finally, there are some good hosts that offer the same thing that Dreamhost is offering, but at $5 or less – if you just feel like paying something ensures better value –, for instance.

      1. I would agree with Herb on this the money you spend on hosting can be better spent on other ministry things. I have been passing the Dreamhost provider on for a few years now when I am asked about web hosting for a church. The free hosting does just about everything you will want or need unless your a large church with the budget for the bells and whistles.

        It’s unlimited bandwith, unlimited space, talkes with google, comes with e-mail through either dreamhost or google. If you go through google you can use the calender functions for scheduling and even host the calender on the website. You can build your own website if you have someone to, or you can use Joomla or one of the other installers to they have to install and set up your site. They also as herb mentioned have WordPress and several other applications you can have installed. They do the install for you so you don’t have to know were things go, it’s a one click install. You can even host streaming media on the site.

        *NOTE* joomla is very detailed and you will have to pay for the templet or have someone make one.

        Dreamhost has excellent tech support as well, through phone and email. I have worked with other providers and have not found them as responsive as dreamhost is even paid ones. The only thing they don’t provide support for is external apps like wordpress and joomla once they are installed. For those you will need to get help from the user communities. I have found that both of them are very helpful and will provide information quickly, and have lots of the information you might need already out there if you are willing to just spend some time looking for it.

        I know of some churches that pay $400 or more a year for hosting their website, media files, and domain name. Even at $120 a year what could you do with that extra money to help someone or to reach out to someone in your community. Websites are great for communications and getting the word out there about who we are but they do not replace building relationships. I believe that if there is a company that will provide us with free hosting and great tech support like DreamHost then we should us it so we can use our financial resources elsewhere to better reach out to those in our communties.

  2. I set up a church site with dreamhost and wordpress. It worked great, but there were times when I would hit the file size limit, specifically with videos. It took a long time but I found instructions for a .htaccess override and it worked but it was a pain.

    If you plan on hosting video on your server, the dreamhost account may give you trouble. Other than that it works great and its free!

    1. you also need to be mindful of he server performance… pay attention to your stats to see if you are getting a high bounce rate… could be an indication people are giving up before your site loads.

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