Recent changes to the way that Google and Yahoo do business has meant that two primary providers for free web hosting have all but disappeared.
Google Sites is the newer version of free web hosting that has been made available to Google users, but it lacks much of the creative freedom of its predecessor, Google Pages. The Pages format allowed users to upload HTML pages, rather than using the somewhat sterile and mostly unchangeable stock pages of Sites. As a result, a web site hosted on Sites is still free, but appears in a more cookie-cutter format that instantly identifies it as a Pages site.
The other free hosting option to recently go under was Yahoo’s Geocities. One of the original free hosting sites, Geocities was born in the 1990s, but was largely suffering from a glut of abandoned pages and a severe slowing of new sign ups. As a result, Yahoo decided to pull the plug on the service earlier this year, completely removing every page from the face of the internet. GeoCities did offer stock drag-and-drop pages for those who wished to display a simple page, but it also allowed users to upload custom HTML files, which gave people the option to host a professional-looking site for free.
Today’s free hosting options are severely limited, but thankfully, the cost of paid hosting has continued to drop to the point that many users of the old free services have decided to take the plunge and commit to a paid hosting program. Many of the available options are now as low as a few dollars a month, and offer more than the free hosting sites ever did, including discounts on domain purchases, free email addresses, and the ability to upgrade as the site grows in popularity, even adding options like an online store or media hosting.