Free web hosting has become an important element in the growth of the Internet over the past several years. The number of firms in this market has expanded rapidly and continues to grow, as have the range and sophistication of the services they provide. The Open Directory seeks to identify and provide accurate and informative links to as many of these hosts as possible.
However, all firms that provide 'free hosting' do not qualify for listings in Hosting/Free and its sub-categories. For our purposes, 'free web hosting' consists of providing space for English-language hypertext and related documents on computers that can be accessed via the Internet to individuals or organizations at no out-of-pocket expense and without requiring the purchase of any other product or service as a pre-condition.
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which provide web-space to their subscribers as part of an overall service, are listed in the Regional/ hierarchy.
- Hosts that provide service in languages other than English are listed under World/.
- Hosts that provide only minimal 'free hosting' as an inducement to purchase their fee-based services will not usually be listed here, although they may qualify for inclusion in other hosting categories:
- Submissions from 'co-branded' or 'private-label' hosts will only be accepted if they provide substantial original content.
- Submissions from 'affiliate' or 'referral' agents and those with redirected URLs will not be knowingly accepted and will be deleted when identified.
The following template is used to describe sites listed here:
- Target audience
- Used only when needed to clarify to whom a listing is aimed or particularly appeals; for example, to distinguish between particular interests in the Arts_and_Humanities, Culture_and_Heritage, Cars,_Trucks_and_Cycles, Special_Interest and similar sub-categories.
- Available web-space
- Stated in megabytes (Mb), and followed by any known relevant information such as bandwidth limits, type of Internet connection, or access to secure servers.
- The type and frequency of required or 'forced' advertising; and, if known, whether advertising placed by the user (site-owner) is permitted. Some hosts will share the revenue produced by forced advertising with the site-owner and this is indicated when possible.
- The method by which site files are transmitted to the host for publication on the Internet. Most typically, this is done using the user's web browser addressed to a 'file-manager' program on the host's site. Less frequently, files are transmitted using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program, which is more flexible but somewhat more difficult to use. Some hosts make both methods available and a few require that files be transferred via e-mail.
- The availability of e-mail accounts, graphic libraries and similar features are indicated here.
- CGI and scripting
- The extent to which CGI (Common Gate Interface) scripts and related factors such as Microsoft FrontPage extensions, SQL (Structured Query Language) and database access are supported are indicated here.
- Sample URL
- A sample URL (Universal Resource Locator) is usually provided to give some idea how the hosted site's web address will appear in printed materials.