Free web hosting is a service which provides users with the ability to store web sites and media on the Internet for no cost. While no monetary cost is involved, some free web hosts require advertisements or links to be placed on hosted sites. Other free hosts require posting in a forum. Forum-based free hosting requires users to either reach a certain amount of posts before getting a free hosting account, or be an active contributer in the forum (make posts often). Most of the forum-based free hosting works on some sort of points system (you get points for each post you make, and these points are used to 'pay' for the hosting)

Most free web hosts discourage using their services for file or image hosting only, with no web page. Because of this, Hotlinking is usually disallowed on free hosts. Another reason why hotlinking is disabled is because it allows other sites to link directly to files on a hosted website (effectively stealing their bandwidth). Some free webhosts will also disallow files over a certain size (for example, 1MB). However, there are free hosts called 'file hosts' which are specially made to host files, and allow large files as well as hotlinking.

Free web hosts will either provide a subdomain ( or a directory ( In contrast, paid web hosts will usually provide a TLD along with the hosting ( Some free hosts do allow use of private domains registered and paid for at a domain name registry. Rarely, a free host may also operate as a registrar, but their registry services are usually more expensive than others.

A few free web hosts have a basic package for free, and enhanced packages (with more features) for a cost. This allows users to try the service for an initial trial (see how it performs compared to other hosts), and then upgrade when (and if) needed.

Most of free web hosts offer a web site control panel such as cPanel, zPanel, DirectAdmin or VHCS for managing the web site. These hosts will also offer FTP to upload your files. Some other features offered by many web hosts include scripting languages such as PHP or ASP, database tools (eg. MySQL), and scheduled processes (otherwise known as 'cron jobs')