Back then Yahoo Geocities existed, which had a simple website building tools, good enough for my purpose back then. I believe it didn’t have advertising at one point, but then over time they embedded ads in the oddest spots of the sites and there was no way to control its placement unless I signed up for a paid account. So I moved on to Angelfire.
I’m not sure how it is now, but back then Angelfire was a pretty “good deal” for a free site. I think it had 25 MB space of free space, which was more than enough for me back then. The ad space was comprehensive (one banner on top).. and it didn’t have pop ups. It also had ftp access, which satisfied my need for experimentation when I started learning about file transfer. It also had cool “Lycos Gear” tools that you could use such as “Guest Gear” which is a Guestbook that users can leave comments on.
Eventually I wanted find out if it was possible to have a free host without the advertisement. After a long and hard research, I came across Byethost.com. At the time it was fairly new, promising no advertisement on free accounts. We just had to fill out their application, describe what our site is about, and wait for their approval. Back then you’d get 250 MB free free space, 2 MySQL databases, PHP support, FTP access, and huge amounts of bandwidth, much more than a typical free host would offer. After approval and using for awhile, I was very satisfied.
There was only one draw back for a short period of time when they needed advertising support and mistakenly had or unaware that some of the banners had adult advertisement, which probably hurt my chances of job opportunities because I was using it as my portfolio site!??? When I upsettingly reported it to them, they were cool about it and immediately took it off, and my site was ad free again.
Eventually, they seemed to have evolved at a successful rate, allowing public sign ups without requiring approval for an account, increasing their features significantly for free accounts, and even offering paid hosting if you want even more features. I’ve stayed with Byethost for several years, and never came across anything better in terms of features for a free price plus no ads. The ads seen on my main site and soon to be seen on my portfolio are something I put in myself, including Google Adsense.
As for performance, the speed while? is OK. It might be a little slower than if you were to pay for a commercial quality server, but I can’t complain. Also if you login to your cpanel, (to manage your website), in Internet Explorer (at least version 7 or below), you’re guaranteed tons of pop-up ads during your session. You still get pop up ads when you use Firefox, but their popup blocker seems to work better so you may get none or very few. Also, currently, if you don’t create a custom 404 page yourself, if a user goes to a page that doesn’t exist on your site, they will be redirected to a page filled with banner/image advertisements and pop-ups that might put them in an infinite loop of having to close the pop ups, or ultimately crash their browser.
Other than that, Byethost has been pretty good to me. Their support forum is very helpful. It is a separate system so you have to register to post. If you forget your password for both cpanel and help forum and for whatever reason the new password isn’t sent to you or you still can’t access either, just email them at their official email address. Usually when I have a question and post it in a forum, an admin would respond within 24 hours and the community is also able to help out adding in their input. So overall, I would recommend Byethost as a free web hosting provider. If there is anything better than what is described on Byethost.com offers for free, please let me know. I would consider looking into it and sending Byethost suggestions for improvement.