Free Hosting Solution
I started out about a year ago in search of a website solution that I knew was out there but had not found. The main objective, how cost effective could I get a custom URL and hosting solution? A key component I wanted, was to use an FTP client and have the files hosted on the same server as my html files.
I started out looking for a hosting service that was totally free, so without ads or banners. There are countless services out there that make you advertise their service on your site with banners and such, but it was harder to find one that worked good without those banners; I think those make any site look cheap.
After a while, I started working with Award Space and setup a test site. It worked pretty decently, but some files couldn't be hosted on the servers, namely compression and archive files (.zip/.rar/ect.). I wanted to use this type of file format to share code samples and completed code. I generally have those files hosted on dropbox because I share them with others on forums and blogs but want to keep everything in one place; so, I kept looking.
About a month and plenty of research later, I came across U Host All. I started up an account and started testing. Everything seemed to work and from what I can tell is an easy solution that I was looking for. It offers free hosting; an FTP and I could keep all my files in one location. It provides some technical support which is valuable when it comes to server-side issues. In all my testing, I ran into two issues in the past 6 months; one was a simple file naming issue, and another was when they changed the FTP servers and I needed my account to be reset to be able to log back in with FTP. Both issues were resolved within a business day and I couldn't be happier with that result. There are sales emails that you get for “payment” on free accounts, but one email rule takes care of those if you do not want to deal with them. I personally keep them because I want to see what they offer free accounts to entice them over to the paid service. My only complaint is the servers are a little older. That comes into play with naming files and file extensions. It was easy to adapt back to a format that I had to use before, and it isn't a big deal. Newer software can recognize a space (%20) in a file name and capitalization of file extensions, but older software has an issue with it; for example, “mypicture.jpg” and “mypicture.JPG” is seen differently. There are some gripes about the Control Panel (cPanel) from other users online, but I found it to be simple and as intuitive as other cPanels I've used. There are all the basic functions like DNS, file manager, email, MySQL, Sub Domains, Redirects and it operates just like any other hosting service. There are even custom error pages that you can use, which was a nice touch for a free service. U Host All also provides click-and-build package; however, I didn't play with it, I like to make my own site from scratch. There is 1 FTP allowed for free accounts, however that was plenty for what I was doing and generally the case for smaller sites or personal sites. There is a online file manager as well if someone didn't want to use FileZilla, SmartFTP or similar FTP client. There is unlimited storage and bandwidth so even if you have large files or a lot of visitors, your site will keep up. U Host All provides a MySQL with free accounts you can use WordPress style applications.
I created two sites with U Host All, whileriding.com and this one that I use for my personal blog and projects. Both have worked as I desired, and only cost me roughly $15.00 a year if I used a custom URL. The only cost has been for whileriding.com and that is through namecheap.com, the hosting has been 100% free and functional.
I would suggest giving U Host All service a try if you want to create a site for the first time or even if you want to save money. Starting a business is costly enough, and with this you can get a web presents for very minimal cost. You get the same functionality as higher end hosting such as GoDaddy, 1&1, Bluehost or Namecheap (my personal choice for my sites). There are upgrades you can add that will offer email, more FTP users, and more MySQL abilities. I believe I found a free hosting service that offers someone the ability to create a site with a custom URL for only the cost of the URL each year, which is not easy to find. I have commonly used 1&1 for my customers over the years, but companies like Namecheap and others have upped their game as well. I am currently trying namecheap.com for hosting and domain services and have been very pleased so far.