Anyone who wants to have Internet visibility, either for business or personal reasons, must find a "host" for their virtual personality or extensions. In short, they need a place to park the information that they want to make available to other people online, and there are web hosting companies that will let them subscribe to this service, for a fee or for free. Aside from having to open the wallet, there are a few other substantial differences between these two types of web hosting servies:
Period of Stay - free web hosting services will rarely close an account except in extreme cases of inactivity, general clean up and maintenance of the servers, or a complete disregard of the terms and conditions of the free web hosting provider. Paid web hosting services will remove accounts that are active if the subscriber does not pay the subscription fee, although sometimes they will give a grace period for payment. Note that web hosting fees may not include domain name registration fees, and a website may also lose accessibility if that is not paid even if the web hosting services are active.
Terms, Conditions and Limits of Services - paid web hosting subscription would be afforded better services in these areas, as well as looser terms and conditions regarding their content. To compare it, imagine the difference between being a guest in someone else's home and renting an apartment. This is not to say that free web hosting cannot give the essential functions of giving Internet visibility, only that it will be in a much smaller scale than a paid website, and with far more limits, especially in terms of software and applications available. However, novice website builders could start off with a free site (the applications that these sites do provide are easy to use), and move on to paid sites when the need arises.
Privacy Issues - being a "guest" subscriber in a free web hosting site also means that the owner of the site can place advertising paraphernalia on the site (banners, pop-ups, link buttons), after all, this is how they will generate income from the subscriber's site. Paying for a host for the website will ensure that only the content that the website owner approves will be put there. And if any one else should wish to advertise at the site, then the owner will be the one with the income and not the web hosting provider.
Web Address - Free websites are generally sub-domains of the main web host's domain. The address of a free website will normally look like http://yoursubdomainname.their_web_address.com, while the address of a paid subscriber with their own domain name registration would be http://www. your_site.com. However, this could entail extra expenses if the domain name has to be registered separately (although there are web hosting services that offer hosting and free domain name registration packaged together).
Size - free websites are a lot smaller than paid websites, and that will limit the amount of content that a website owner can upload to the server. Images and graphics take up a lot of space, and for image dependent content, the free website is not really a viable option.