Google web hosting through sites.google.com is advertised as being free, but what do you actually get? We look at what you can expect from free Google web hosting and whether it is the right solution for your needs.
Free Google web hosting is great if you want to put up a small website such as a personal site or a starter website for a church, club, community group or small business. They have plenty of templates that you can choose from, making it easy to start your own website if you are new to all of this.
Google Web Hosting Templates
The Google Web Hosting templates are imaginative and well designed. They include different features: for example the Project Wiki template allows members of a team to access and update the site easily, so that all members of your team or group can contribute. You can also include a calendar for your big events which has many uses for a project or sports team website.
Another template is the Classroom site template which allows a teacher to post information for students and parents. For example you can post information about upcoming field trips, all the details of assignments that are due, and a lot of other information which you would otherwise have to hand out to kids or parents. There is also a contact form so that parents and students can easily email you.
Other Google Web Hosting templates include the company intranet (internal website for a business) which has a more business-like design, as you would expect. Again there is a calendar for upcoming events and a section for news. There is also a family site template with a more informal design and plenty of space for posting photos.
Google Web Hosting Storage is secure and you can choose to make your site public (so that it is viewable by anybody in the world with an internet connection) or private, so that you can choose who to give access to.
Like most free web hosting services, there are limits on what you can do with a free Google web hosting account. This is not something that you would use for ecommerce sites with a shopping cart, or where you could store huge video downloads, etc. It is mainly designed for small personal or group sites.
Google Web Hosting – Premier Edition
If you need to upgrade, there is a Premier Edition that gives you access to 10GB of storage, which will be enough for most sites. You can also have email storage and free voice calls through your Google Apps Premier Edition account.
If you are likely to want to develop many sites or offer a commercial service there are advantages to owning your own domain. You can do that through Google Apps which allows you to point your Google site design at your own domain.
If you choose to use the free service, to some extent you are at the mercy of Google. If they have objections to your site, they could close it down. Of course, this is not likely to be a problem if you have a site that is legal and ethical. However it is something to consider before you commit to using any free hosting service such as Google web hosting.