In the world of free web hosts, there are very few decent services to choose from. The one that seems to be the most popular by far today though is 000Webhost.com. 000Webhost is run by the paid/premium web host “Hosting24“, which uses 000Webhost as it’s “free trial” program. The hosting plans feature pack is nothing short of incredible for a free hosting company. With 100GB of transfer and 1.5GB of storage space, what could possibly hold you back?
As an experiment, we decided to host a WordPress blog with them. Our plan was to load it with multiple add-ons, third party scripts, and throw as much traffic as we could at them. In theory, it would be nothing short of a miracle if the site lasted a day, since it was free after all. Free hosting services don’t like you to use all their resources like that; they want to save it for their paying customers.
The first issue we ran into was with the automatic installation program. When you sign up for 000Webhost, you are given what they call a CPanel. We believed it to be a clone of the actual program, but just as well we wanted to try out the features anyway. Just like CPanel, there is a “Fantastico AutoInstaller” program to use, and it has WordPress available. However when we tried to install WordPress, we got this message:
“We are upgrading autoinstaller at the moment. We do not have exact date when it wil be finished. However, you can upgrade account and immediately start using another autoinstalled that has 50 scripts ready to install in one click!”
There’s something wrong with this picture. This is obviously a ploy to get people to buy hosting plans from hosting24 (that’s what happens when you click their link). We know this because we’ve been tracking this error message for the past 4 months, from January 2010 to April 2010. If they were planning on resolving this issue, it would have been done by now.
So we had to install WordPress the old fashioned way, through FTP. No big deal really. We uploaded the program and it took just shy of a half hour, which isn’t great but it could have been worse. Then we set-up the MySQL database & ran the 5-minute-install without any trouble.
Next we had to install our add-ons, and that’s when we started having a little trouble. While using WordPress itself to download & install multiple add-ons at once, we saw intermittent times where both the web server and MySQL server would not respond for a few minutes. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. This issue lasted for about two hours, and then the servers were working fine again.
Now that we had all of our data uploaded (including some forum posts), it was time to send traffic to them. The easiest way we though of to do this was to simply purchase traffic from one of the SEO boards, as they sell cheap traffic all the time. Now this traffic isn’t going to probably pay much attention to the site or click on anything, but what it would do is suck up all the bandwidth pretty quick as the pages would still be loaded.
We bought 10,000 visitors, spread them out over 5 days (2000 visitors/daily), and divided them among a few different posts. The visitors started coming about 3 days after we purchased them, and for about 36 hours or so things were running quite smoothly. We tracked both our web server and SQL server with a PING program from our computer and it resulted with an up-time of about 97%, which was acceptable. But then we started noticing that our visitors had stopped. We also got an e-mail stating: “Your account has been temporarily suspended due to SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY, please contact an administrator”.
Using the forum board, we were able to contact one of their administrators via PM. We didn’t explain to them the experiment that we were doing as we felt it would compromise the results. What we wanted was to be treated like the common user. The administrator took a look into the log file and told us that in order to use that much bandwidth, we would have to purchase hosting from hosting24. Apparently, the amount of data transfer posted on the “features” page is only where the system automatically caps it. If an administrator sees a large spike in bandwidth though, they will manually suspend your account.
We did get our account back after telling the administrator just who we were and what we were doing, and we didn’t have any issues after that. But the lesson learned here is that if you have a site that has a lot of traffic, you can’t really milk 000Webhost for all their worth. But for a personal website or small blog it should be alright.
If you have a used 000Webhost and want to share your experience please submit a 000webhost review/comment below.
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