Who doesn’t love walking around grocery stores snacking on free samples? Whether you’re meandering through one of those warehouse giants or an upscale, local shop, the small bites give you a taste of some of the delectable flavors you could enjoy for a small fee. Once you get your fill wandering around the store sampling the variety of meals, you’re more likely to leave with a few tasty purchases.
The same concept is at play in the world of web hosting — free trials and introductory periods enable site owners to test a provider’s network, infrastructure, and customer support to make sure the host is a good fit to run their online presence. Although some hosts offer more flexible month-to-month plans, most require customers to pay for a full year of hosting up front. Web hosts hope a successful test run means you’ll stick around and sign up for a longer plan to take advantage of additional perks. Here are the best web hosting free trials to consider whenever you find yourself in the market for a new host.
Best Web Hosting Free Trials (With Domain Name)
And so begins our tour of the best free trials that require credit card information. First off, don’t fret about having to fight to get your refund — the web hosts we list in this article are trusted companies that honor their money-back guarantees and process refunds promptly, with no questions asked. Worst-case scenario, you get your money back (minus any setup fees or domain registrations) and get to look for another hosting trial; best case, you don’t have to lift a finger to move into a more permanent, reliable, and well-supported hosting experience once the trial expires. Plus, the vast majority of hosts will prorate your refund if you choose to leave after the money-back guarantee.
In shared hosting packages, the free domain registration is nearly as ubiquitous as the 30-day money-back guarantee. And it makes sense — if you need hosting, you’re probably looking to start a website and will need a domain name anyway. If you already have a domain, this perk typically covers a hassle-free (and cost-free) domain transfer. However, buyer beware: if you register a free domain name and cancel your plan, the host will deduct the cost of a domain from your refund. You will still own that domain name, though, so you’ll be able to use it with your next risk-free hosting trial.
We’ve listed our three favorite shared hosting free trials that offer affordable long-term plans, a free domain registration, and excellent domain management tools below, but we want to give a special mention to InterServer for just barely missing the cut. Instead of a truly free trial, the company charges only a penny for your first month of hosting and $1.99 for the first year of your domain name registration.
- FREE domain registration and transfer
- Unlimited disk space, domains, and MySQL databases
- $200 toward Google AdWords and Bing advertising
- Unlimited bandwidth and email addresses
- FREE online store and website builder
- Get started on iPage now.
- FREE domain name registration and site-building tools
- Get up to unlimited domains, emails, and bandwidth
- Up to $200 in offers with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
- 1-click WordPress install and WordPress’s endorsement
- 24/7 customer support and online tutorials
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- FREE domain name and seamless site transfer
- Includes 1-click installer with over 310 apps
- FREE SSDs for shared business hosting plans
- Easy installs for WordPress, Joomla, and PrestaShop
- FREE data backups and complimentary SSL certificate
- Get started on InMotion Hosting now.
Best “WordPress” Hosting Free Trials
WordPress aficionados of all shapes and sizes have tons of great options to sample in the hosting world — which is good, considering WordPress-specific hosting can vary wildly from one provider to the next. Some plans simply offer the generic one-click installation of the ultra-popular content management system, while others have engineered powerful cloud-powered environments built for speed and scalability.
Given that WordPress is the platform of choice for nearly a third of the internet, attracting customers is a highly profitable and highly competitive venture. With the Software-as-a-Service industry seeing between 40% and 60% of free trial users converting into paying customers, free trials of all shapes and sizes seem to be a worthwhile tool for hosting providers.
Most WordPress users will be best served with one of these next three options, which balance WordPress performance with customer-friendly pricing formats. InMotion Hosting offers customers a legendary 90-day money-back guarantee, making it one of the longest risk-free trials in the industry, while Bluehost comes recommended straight from the WordPress core team.
- WordPress pre-installed with NGINX and PHP 7
- FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
- Optional automatic plugin, theme, and core updates
- Features a FREE drag-and-drop WP page editor
- Premium themes and plugin subscriptions
- Get started on InMotion now.
- Recommended by WordPress Core since 2005
- FREE SSD storage and SSL certificate
- FREE domain registration and email
- Automatic installation and updates
- 63% discount exclusively for HostingAdvice shoppers
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click installs for WordPress
- Turbo Server, SSD speed boost, and optimized caching
- A2-optimized WP plugins for performance and security
- SSL certificates, PayPal integration, and 24/7 support
- FREE HackScan and KernelCare
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Premium WordPress customers looking for managed hosting, more computing resources, and services tailored more specifically to businesses, developers, and web agencies, may prefer to look at these three options for free-trial web hosting with WordPress. Flywheel offers a truly free trial by allowing potential customers to spin up a demo site and only pay once they’re ready to publish. WordPress-approved DreamHost and WP Engine both offer much longer money-back guarantee periods than the industry average at 97 days and 60 days, respectively.
- High-touch managed hosting optimized for WordPress
- FREE speed boost via built-in CDN and custom FlyCache technology
- One-click sandbox environment for staging
- In-house WP expertise and support available 24/7
- FREE security scans and malware removal
- Get started on Flywheel now.
- Preconfigured and fully managed option available with DreamPress
- Multiple caching layers with Varnish, Memcached, and OPcache
- 1-click install and automatic updates
- WP-specific firewall for security
- Pre-installed SSL/TLS certificate
- Get started on DreamHost now.
- 20% OFF your first payment for HostingAdvice readers
- FREE Genesis Framework and StudioPress themes
- Fast, scalable, and secure WordPress
- FREE SSL certificate and CDN ready
- Upgrade options for geotargeting and edge security
- Get started on WP Engine now.
Best “Windows” Hosting Free Trials
Even for beginners who probably don’t know the difference, web hosting is naturally predisposed to Unix-flavored operating systems. The open-source operating system powers more than two-thirds of all sites online, often under Linux, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and Ubuntu branding. Linux-based operating systems are typically easier and more cost-efficient for hosting providers to run because the licensing fees are much smaller.
Developers and organizations who rely on programming languages such as ASP.NET or C++, however, need to use servers running the Windows operating system to run effectively and at peak performance. These services are typically a few dollars per month more expensive than their Linux counterparts, making a free trial all the more valuable.
We’ve already told you about AccuWebHosting’s free trial for Windows shared and their option for free Windows VPS hosting, so here are three other options from well-known hosts that rely on risk-free money-back guarantees.
- Strong Windows hosting to launch your ASP.NET site
- Install apps with a single click via Plesk
- FREE domain and unlimited bandwidth included
- Award-winning support from the HostGator team
- Support for ASP.NET, PHP, Python, and MVC
- Get started on HostGator now.
- ASP.NET, ASP, MSSQL, Silverlight, and MVC6
- FREE RAID-10 storage and SSD caching servers
- Unlimited storage, websites, transfer, and email
- Automated weekly backups and FREE Cloudflare CDN
- NO contracts and your price is guaranteed for life
- Get started on InterServer now.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 with 24/7 security monitoring
- Recommended for ASP.NET, ASP, and SQL users
- Unlimited MySQL or MS SQL databases
- 1-click installs for 50+ FREE apps
- FREE domain from the #1 registrar with annual plans
- Get started on GoDaddy now.
Best “VPS” Hosting Free Trials
A virtual private server, or VPS, offers site owners a sweet spot between crowded shared hosting and high-powered (and super expensive) dedicated servers. The added resources and flexibility are extra appealing to developers, agencies, and small businesses that require high availability, fast page loads, and room to grow.
Even more so than free shared hosting services, though, companies offering free VPS hosting are largely considered scams. You know the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”? Meet free VPS plans. Services are promised and rarely delivered as the companies dangle free VPS plans while requiring you to refer the company to others, click on ads, and enter personal data the companies can later resell.
For VPS solutions, you’ll be much better served by signing up for a free trial with a trusted host. Sure, you’ll have to enter your credit card number (usually — don’t forget AccuWebHosting’s free trial for Windows VPS), but the hosts below give you ample time to request a refund or cancel service without paying an arm and a leg.
- $0.01 for the first month using code HOSTINGADV
- Then $6 monthly with no contracts, no price changes
- Latest versions of PHP, MySQL, Perl, Python, and Ruby
- 7 operating system options for Linux or Windows users
- Full root access and choice of datacenter included
- Get started on InterServer now.
- Managed or unmanaged virtual servers available in Windows or Linux
- Cloud hosting instances with hourly or monthly billing
- Instant upgrades without downtime
- FREE around-the-clock monitoring
- Automatic nightly backups available
- Get started on Hostwinds now.
- High-speed hosting that's faster than AWS, Rackspace, and Digital Ocean
- FREE backups, CDN, root access, and DDoS protection
- Up to 16 processors with all-SSD storage
- Choice between cPanel or Plesk Onyx control panel
- Real-time monitoring and 100% uptime guarantee
- Get started on Liquid Web now.
Best “Dedicated Server” Hosting Free Trials
Free trials at web hosting’s top echelon can be quite challenging. Configuring and deploying a dedicated server often requires a lot of individualized, manual attention from the hosting provider, even with their highly automated systems. Orders for dedicated servers often come with high degrees of customizations, meaning hosts understandably don’t want to do all the setup only to take it all down a few weeks later. Plus, dedicated hosting is usually a more permanent solution when compared to shared or cloud services — you’re looking for top-notch power, reliability, and room to grow.
However, cautious site admins and business owners may want to make sure the specific hardware performs as advertised and is worth the larger budgetary investment. Here are three companies with the resources and processes in place to support free trials and money-back guarantees on dedicated servers:
- RAID 1 mirrored storage
- Minimum 3 IP addresses per plan
- Modern hardware, built and maintained in house
- 24/7 expedited support from a dedicated team
- Sign up today to save at least 27% on your first term
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- FREE server management and security updates
- Launch Assist™ gives you 1-on-1 time with a sysadmin
- 99.999% network uptime via Smart Routing™ technology
- Tier 1 network with redundant bandwidth at two datacenters
- Up to 44% OFF for HostingAdvice readers
- Get started on InMotion now.
- Enjoy total control via cPanel and CentOS
- Managed services and updates with support available 24/7
- Extensive security and mirrored storage for data protection
- Save 20% your first month by ordering today
- More discounts available with long-term plans
- Get started on iPage now.
Web Hosting Free Trials — No Credit Card Required
In the world of web hosting, free trials are largely broken down into two categories: those that don’t require a credit card or other payment information to get started, and those that do. We’ll call that latter category “risk-free trials” because, while you’ll have to pony up some money up front, you’ll have at least 30 days to test the hosting services and request a full refund.
Free trials are an age-old tactic for businesses to attract new customers — but they don’t always work. Certain types of businesses, especially those with offline, in-person presences, are predisposed to more success with truly free trials, while online companies that rely on recurring billing and payments typically require prospective customers to enter their credit card information when getting started.
The truly free trials that don’t require payment information are, of course, more appealing to customers. How many times have you typed in your credit card info to take advantage of an appealing introductory period, only to forget to cancel your account within the allotted time and get charged anyway?
Truly free trials that don’t require payment information can be rather hard to find. We’ll dive into the deep pool of risk-free trials and money-back guarantees in a bit, but here are some of the best free trials we’ve uncovered — from big names like GoDaddy, WordPress, Shopify, and others — that don’t require your credit card number.
|#||Host||Service||Trial Period||Get Started|
|19||GoDaddy||Website Builder||30 Days|
|eCommerce Store||30 Days|
|20||AccuWebHosting||Windows Shared Hosting||90 Days|
|Windows VPS Hosting||30 Days|
|21||Flywheel||WordPress Hosting||14 Days|
|23||Shopify||eCommerce Store||14 Days|
|24||Volusion||eCommerce Store||14 Days|
Other free trial options: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and AccuWebHosting all offer free plans for life. Upgrading to a premium plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee for WordPress, Weebly, and AccuWebHosting, and a 14-day refund policy for Wix. Look here for more free web hosting options.
Test the Hosting Waters With Risk-Free Money-Back Guarantees
From Bing Crosby to Janet Jackson, crooners around the world have sung about how “the best things in life are free.” While that may not hold true for long-term web hosting solutions, free trials and leveraging money-back guarantees are the best way to ensure your hosting happiness. Don’t let supplying your credit card number at signup deter you from trying out hosts that don’t offer truly free trials. Companies like InMotion Hosting and DreamHost give customers a full three months to inspect and test every feature of their service and still be able to request a full refund.
Free trials are a great way to open your mind to new companies and products — but please be wary shoppers and remain vigilant to any potential scams or shady upsells. Although the hosting providers we’ve highlighted here are highly regarded and well-respected industry veterans, smaller and sometimes international hosts aren’t as upfront about the conditions of their free trial. The Federal Trade Commission lays out the steps you can take to protect yourself.
All that said, however, happening onto a free trial that exposes you to a company or product that helps your company or online presence scale quickly and easily is a score that’s tough to beat. You’ll certainly want to shop around for the best options — just like with the free food samples at the grocery store.